From training camp at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, California, we have former world champion Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios and his trainer, “Trainer of the Year” Robert Garcia, and Hall of Fame Promoter Bob Arum. They are here to discuss their upcoming historic battle against Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach, taking place Saturday, November 23 and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® at 9:00 PM east coast and 6:00 PM west coast time. Brandon will be hosting his only U.S. media workout this Thursday at Robert Garcia’s gym – 1451 Pacific Ave., Oxnard, California, beginning at Noon PT. Joining Brandon at the workout will be Kevin Hart, who is starring in the upcoming Warner Bros. movie “Grudge Match” which will also be starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro. Kevin will also be available for interviews at the workout, as will Bob Arum.
BOB ARUM: Hello everybody, I don’t know if it’s morning or night but we just got back from the Philippines last night in time for this conference call with Brandon Rios and Robert Garcia. Everyone is pumped and ready to go. The buzz in Asia is just tremendous. Over 70 media members from all over – mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore attended Manny’s media day, and now we shift the focus to America with Brandon Rios on this conference call and his media day on Thursday.
BRANDON RIOS: Training camp has been going great. It’s awesome. I won’t say it been my best training camp ever, but it’s been great. Now I am just ready to go out there and do what I’ve got to do.
Robert, we understand you are leaving for Macau on November 11 to get acclimated, how do you feel it’s been going so far?
ROBERT GARCIA: Everything is great. We’ve had a great training camp with great sparring partners.. We will leave on the 11th and we have everybody – the cook, sparring partners ready to go.
How is preparation for a welterweight fight?
BRANDON RIOS: It is really great. I don’t have to kill myself to make 140 or even 135 that I was doing before that. I fell really great and I feel really strong. I don’t think the weight will affect me a negative way, I actually think it will help me.
ROBERT GARCIA: You know he seems to be much more comfortable at this weight. Normally three or four weeks out he is usually training to cut the weight and it was hurting his performances in the gym. That seven pounds is not going to hurt him at all. He is going to be stronger and he’s going to be faster because he is not cutting weight like he did when he was fighting at 135 or 140. Now the training is on our game plan and how to beat Manny Pacquiao, not on cutting weight, and he will be better for it when he gets in the ring with Manny Pacquiao.
Does part of you want to go in there and jump on him to see how Pacquiao reacts after the brutal knockout by Juan Manuel Márquez?
BRANDON RIOS: No we cannot do that. We can’t go in the ring and think he’s going to be like that from the last knockout. We don’t know how he is personally. We have to go in there and wait and wait and wait and see what he has because he is still a dangerous opponent. Pacquiao is always going to be dangerous, so I can’t go in there and jump on him to see if he’s done with. I’m not thinking like that. I’m going in there with a great game plan. Robert has a great game plan and his dad is also helping us out. So we have a great game plan going into the fight and I have to follow instructions and stick to the game plan and I think we should be ready.
Robert, what do you think about trying to jump on him?
ROBERT GARCIA: My dad and I have put together a great game plan for Rios and we have been watching the Pacquiao tapes together. That is something that everybody expects us to do and we just might do that. We don’t know what Pacquiao has coming out. But we also have to be smart. We just can’t jump in there and think we are going to be the better guy that night. No, we have to be ready for the best Pacquiao. For him, it’s do or die so we have to be ready for the best Pacquiao. We can’t go in there thinking it’s going to be easy. Our game plan has turned out really good. If Brandon follows instructions and does everything we tell him to do, the sparring partners have been very helpful, so we should come out with good results.
How do you prepare for the time change? Fighting in the morning in Macau?
ROBERT GARCIA: The fact that we are fighting in the morning, it is different and we have never done that. It’s not only different for us but for everyone on the card and is new for everybody. One thing about Brandon is that he always trains at that time anyway. He is always at the gym at 11 and by Noon he is already sparring and doing his work. So that is already something we do, so it could benefit us. When we go to Macau we will do the same thing. We will be training early.
BRANDON RIOS: It’s going to be different, but not really. Once you get in the ring and fight you are not even thinking about ‘Oh it’s going to be too early for me.’ It’s in the morning, but to me, I’m just ready to fight, to get It on. To show the world what I can do when I’m in top shape having the best training camp ever and when I come in mentally and physically ready to show everybody what they can expect from me.
We noticed you and Manny acting friendly while in China on the tour. Are you finding that changing now getting closer to the fight?
BRANDON RIOS: I always have my game face on. Yes, in China we saw each other a lot but didn’t really talk to each other. We showed respect to each other, but that’s it. Right when my manager Cameron Dunkin told me on the phone I was fighting Pacquiao – I had my game face on. So I am ready to fight.
Bob, what have you seen from Brandon’s personality so far?
BOB ARUM: Brandon is somebody who is really a credit to boxing, because he has a great fan-friendly personality and fighting style. You know if you are watching a Brandon Rios fight you are going to see a real fight. He has a big heart and brings a lot of energy into a fight. He complements Pacquiao in this fight. They are both high energy fighters and I think we are going to see a tremendous battle between two guys who love to fight and know, when they get in the ring that that’s what is expected of them.
How is the fight doing? How is the risk factor economically?
BOB ARUM: There is no risk, to be honest. The Macau fight will be sold out. There will be thousands more in Macau watching on close circuit, as in Hong Kong, as in the Venetian in Las Vegas – so that aspect is all covered. The television all over Asia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia is going to set records for viewership. And in the United States, we believe with the campaign we are going to have the pay-per-view figures in the United States will be right there. What we intend to do in Las Vegas at the Venetian on fight week is we are going to have all the radio remotes there. We are bringing in top fighters to talk to the radios there. We are going to do all the things at the Venetian in Las Vegas as if the fight was at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
The last time you faced a southpaw was when you were 19…
BRANDON RIOS: I guess there hasn’t been a tough enough opponent for me to fight. But fighting a southpaw is OK. It’s something different and maybe I need something different. I look at a right-handed fighter then I look at a left-handed fighter, and it’s even better.
How do you feel about those in the media not giving you a chance?
BRANDON RIOS: It’s OK – everybody looks at me as a punching bag. But that’s all right, Robert and I are going in with a great game plan and we are going to shock the world and show them what kind of a fighter I am. We are just ready, man. To be honest with you, I don’t care what people think, if I have a chance or not. I am just going to prove everybody wrong. And that’s good; they are not giving me credit. That makes me train harder and gives me the drive to show them and shut them up.
Do you enjoy being and underdog?
BRANDON RIOS: I love it. I love it when they doubt me and I can prove them wrong. I proved them wrong against Peterson. I did it again against Acosta. I did it with Antillon and I did it with Alvarado. So I’ll be ready.
The fight is billed Pacquiao-Rios. How do you feel about that? Do you feel as if you are the opponent?
BRANDON RIOS: Well, it is Pacquiao versus Rios so no one is giving me a chance. Everybody is overlooking me. I just want to show the world that, hey, he is in there with a live dog. He is not in there with a little puppy. He is in there with a live dog. I am going to show the world that he belongs with the best; he wants to fight the best. This is the guy that has heart and balls that gives everything in the ring, that’s what he wants.
What gives you that perception?
BRANDON RIOS: There is a lot of it man. I have read articles. I don’t need to go out there and keep saying it. The people that ’know boxing.’ Everybody is out there saying it. But that’s OK. I am going to go out there and shut everybody up.
There is also the perception that you were picked by Pacquiao because you won’t box and that you are smaller…
BRANDON RIOS: I am not smaller. At the press conference I believe he was smaller than me so I am not the smaller guy here. If you say that, your eyes are deceiving you because I am not smaller than Pacquiao, Pacquiao is smaller than me.
BOB ARUM: That is a good point that Brandon raises. Pacquiao is a much smaller guy. Brandon towers over Pacquiao; Brandon is much taller than Pacquiao. As far as the weight is concerned, that is one of Freddie’s biggest problems. Manny is working so hard and he is so light that he is going back is eating five meals a day in order to keep his weight. In other words, now he is probably five pounds under the welterweight limit.
So you think Brandon is probably the bigger guy?
BOB ARUM: I don’t think, I know. He is much bigger than Pacquiao. He is taller, his reach is longer and probably today he weighs more, probably ten pounds more than Msnny, right Brandon? You are probably about 152 today?
BRANDON RIOS: Yup.
BOB ARUM: And Manny was 142 when I left him in General Santos City.
What kind of fight do you plan to bring to Manny? He prefers a guy to stand in there with him…
ROBERT GARCIA: I think if we were getting ready to outbox Manny it would be trying. Everybody knows how Brandon fights and nothing is going to change Brandon. That’s what we are going to do. We are going to try to make it into a brawl. That’s the only way Brandon fights and that’s the only way Brandon knows how to fight so there is nothing else we can do. That’s what we have to do.
BRANDON RIOS: You heard it from Robert and he’s the man training me so I’ve go to go with Robert. I have to stick with what Robert says and that’s what’s going to happen.
If you’re not a puppy, what kind of dog are you?
BRANDON RIOS: I am a Pit Bull mixed with a Great Dane, mixed with a Rottweiler, mixed with a Bull Terrier, mixed with everything. That’s what kind of dog I am.
How long has Pacquiao been on your radar? Three years ago you were fighting for a lightweight title when Margarito was fighting Pacquiao…
BRANDON RIOS: He hasn’t been on the radar that long. At that time I wasn’t ready for this type of fight, really. I think Robert has got me to the point where I need to be and he feels that I’ve grown. Cameron Dunkin feels that I’ve grown so I can compete at this level now. I feel like I can compete at this level now. Now I am ready for these types of fights.
Do you feel a rematch with Alvarado is in your future?
BRANDON RIOS: This is what I say and I always tell this to everybody. There is only one guy on my mind right now and that’s Manny Pacquiao. There is only one guy that’s going to be on my mind and that’s Manny Pacquiao. I can’t overlook any opponent because all fighters are dangerous. Every fighter is dangerous. I only look at one opponent at a time and that’s many Pacquiao. After the fight I will sit down with Cameron Dunkin and Robert and go over some great options for me.
Do you feel drug testing will be part of your future fights?
BRANDON RIOS: I’m a clean fighter and I don’t really need drug testing. They said they wanted drug testing for this fight so why not? I didn’t ask for it. If they want drug testing, that’s OK. It’s not like I’m not going to fight him. I’m a clean fighter like I said. If they’re not clean, that’s OK. I am just worried about my camp and what we do and that’s it.
BRANDON RIOS: I feel good and I’m ready to fight Pacquiao. Everything in the gym with Robert is going great and Robert is training me real hard and I’ll be ready.
Will having Alex Ariza in the corner have an effect on the fight?
ROBERT GARCIA: Ariza is not in the corner. Ariza is working with Brandon but not in the corner. In the corner will be my dad, Dr. Anderson and myself. The fact that he worked with Pacquiao before does not mean we are taking advantage or asking any questions about Pacquiao. Ariza doesn’t ever say anything to me about Pacquiao or what we should do against Pacquiao. I don’t ask questions and he doesn’t tell me anything. He’s just doing his job like he never worked with Pacquiao.
How has Ariza impacted the camp:
BRANDON RIOS: I’m already a physically strong guy, but Ariza’s got some good work ethics. He’s making me faster. He’s making me more light on my feet. He’s been great and been working very well, like Robert said. There has not been one mention of what Pacquiao does wrong or anything like that. We don’t need any of that stuff. We just do hard work and get the job done. That’s what we do. Ariza is great at what he does and we have a great workout. Mikey’s using him and I’m using him and we see great results.
Which Pacquiao are you preparing for?
BRANDON RIOS: I’m ready for the Pacquiao that was dominating the game. That’s the guy I’m ready for. I am not looking at his last fight when he got knocked out by Márquez. That could happen to anybody – that could happen to me. We cannot go in thinking Pacquiao is done, he’s old. I’m not looking at that. I’m looking at the Pacquiao that was dominating the game. I’m getting in the best shape I can get and I’ll be ready mentally and physically for this fight. And if he looks old? Great – that gives me more time to warm up. If he’s at his best? Great – then I have to warm up faster.
BOB ARUM: I want to thank everybody for being on the call. I’m glad you mentioned this great triple-header we have on November 9 – Robert’s brother, Mikey Garcia challenges for the 130-pound title against Rocky Martinez; Nonito Donaire in a grudge rematch with Vic Darchinyan; and former U.S. Olympians Vanes Martirosyan against Demetrius Andrade for the junior middleweight title – it’s a terrific offering on HBO. These fighters, both Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios have really been training hard for this fight and I want to address one question – the idea of them fighting in the morning. Remember, on the greatest fights I ever saw took place thirty-eight years ago, in Manila, in the morning, at the same time, when Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali went at it in one of the great heavyweight, one of the great fights, in boxing. I expect a great fight here in the morning in Macau and live Saturday evening, usual time [9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT], in Las Vegas.
BOB ARUM: Let me say this: people say ‘fighting in the morning, how unusual.’ Yea, it’s unusual, but ask your self, when do you have the most energy or the most strength? Is it in the morning? Or is it in the evening? Most people will say it’s in the morning. So that’s why I expect an even greater battle than if the fight was taking place at the usual time in the evening.
BRANDON RIOS: My friend has something to say [impersonates Kevin Hart]: Yea! Yea! Getting ready for Macau baby! Yea!
BRANDON RIOS: It’s going to be a great fight and it’s going to be a great fight for everybody around the world. You’re going to see two warriors go at it and they really do go at it. I want to say thanks for everyone that believes in me.