Manny Pacquiao, Brandon Rios Camps Brawl Ahead of Saturday’s Fight

Pacquiao Rios Teams Battle

The well-documented fracas between the camps of Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios on Wednesday morning at The Venetian Macao has already gone viral on the internet. Half a dozen videos of this shameful moment have surfaced everywhere, recorded from different angles and different audio qualities, composing a complex mosaic of dumbassery, racial slurs, Bruce Lee-style dropkicks, and other delicacies.

But in the background of that testosterone-fueled territorial dispute, a distant silhouette continued his morning workout on a treadmill, aloof and distant, without even bothering to stop to see what the fuss was about.

That was none other than Brandon Rios, one of the principals in this coming Saturday’s much anticipated bout against Pacquiao. And while one can argue that by stopping his training session he would have been functional to Freddie Roach’s goal of disrupting his routine and upsetting his preparation, it is also true that Rios had more than one reason to stay away from the donnybrook that erupted when Roach (Pacquiao’s trainer) demanded the immediate exit of Rios and his entourage from the training facility, including his trainer Robert Garcia and his strength coach Alex Ariza, who had worked with Pacquiao until Roach had him fired a year ago.

It all began when Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs ), a Top Rank fighter just like Manny, was scheduled to appear in a card headlined by Pacquiao facing Antonio Margarito at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in 2011. Rios, already being trained by Robert Garcia, was part of the Margarito’s entourage, and during the pre-fight build up both fighters appeared on a video that featured them mocking Roach’s pattern of speech, slurred by the effect of the Parkinson’s disease suffered by the trainer.

That video found its way to YouTube, and soon enough both fighters were wrapped in a cocoon of controversy. Margarito suffered a backlash of his own in the form of a gruesome beating by Pacquiao later that week, but Rios’ mocking characterization of Roach was the one that made the most headlines, and it all but guaranteed Rios at least one awkward question in every interview for the rest of his life.

Rios’ answers for those questions, however fine-tuned by his PR team and the passing of time, did very little to regain some of the respect he lost with that unfortunate characterization. And dealing with the aftermath of the Roach-Ariza pissing contest will not be any easier.

But aside from the specific details of this altercation and how his image may be affected by it, a bigger question looms for Rios: will he be able to fulfill his promise as a boxer and become a major draw at the box office? Is his maturity level up for the task of becoming a factor in his division, especially if he beats an icon in Manny Pacquiao?

Brandon Rios
Rios can handle himself in the ring but will he be able to handle the spotlight if it ever gets brighter Chris Farina Top Rank

As a fast and powerful volume puncher with lots of stamina, it appears that all Rios has to do to earn some respect as a fighter and as a person is to grow out of that oversized hat and flashy outfit and start behaving like the true champ he wants to be. But his indiscipline goes beyond his mockery of handicapped people on camera. It reflects on his numerous failed trips to the scale, which has already cost him his title once (and a chance to regain it in his next fight), and in his general childish behavior in circumstances that call for better judgment.

One of those situations is something as simple as sticking to his own schedule to avoid conflicting situations such as Wednesday’s brouhaha, a pointless delay in abandoning the training facility that his opponent was scheduled to use at that time. Had he left at 11, as scheduled, none of this would have happened.

This sort of immature territorial dispute is what led to this debacle in the first place, with Garcia cornering himself on a defensive position, Roach escalating his verbal attack to include racial slurs against Mexicans, and Ariza graduating from disgruntled employee to black-belt cross-kick master with a flair for punting unsuspecting handicapped people with no warning.

And even though Roach, a former boxer (and a tough one at that), would be the first one to cringe upon hearing the word “handicapped” being used to describe him, it is undeniable that the sight of Ariza going karate kid on his former boss is the one image that will stay in people’s minds after this otherwise forgettable contest of machismo.

Rios is in a good position to be the fighter who will trigger Pacquiao’s retirement if he manages to win convincingly on Saturday. Replacing him as a fan favorite will be a much more difficult task, especially if his entourage continues to make him look like he’s the most mature, focused and serious member of the group.

Which unfortunately he is not.

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Diego Morilla
Diego Morilla is a boxing writer since 1992. His work has been extensively featured in some of the most prestigious boxing media outlets in Latin America and the U.S., including, The Ring, Latino Boxing,, Lo Mejor del Boxeo,, HBO Sports and newspapers such as El Mundo, Primera Hora and El Vocero, among others.

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