Manny Pacquiao has lost his past two bouts, so his next scrap, against Brandon Rios in Macau on Nov. 24 (Nov. 23 in the U.S.) is beyond crucial.
I checked in with Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, and asked him for his take on the bout, Rios as a foe and all matters Manny.
-So, Freddie, is this a must-win for Manny?
Yeah, if he loses I will tell him to retire.
What if he loses in a great fight?
If you lose three in a row it's your time. He's up there in age, I've got to keep a close eye on him. It's part of my job to protect him. I will do the right thing, I don't want him to be a stepping-stone.
-And if Manny ever started accepting fights in which he was booked as the figurative stepping-stone?
Would I step down if he is the stepping-stone, I'd have to, yes. I will never go into a fight I don't think we win.
-Is Rios the right foe, though, for Manny to snap a two-fight losing streak?
I believe so. Rios likes to exchange, stay in the pocket, but Manny is faster and hits harder. I think Manny will knock him out. I think it will be a great fight, Rios will talk and embarrass himself, but it will be a great fight.
-Rios got in hot water when a video of him emerged apparently mocking you, approximating the symptoms of Parkinson's, which you battle, back in fall 2010. Do you hold that against him?
It showed what an ass he is. Revenge will be great. That doesn't stick with me so much as other people that have Parkinson's who are not boxers. It was a childish thing to do, him and his trainer. They're a bunch of a-------, can't wait to beat them."
Roach said he doesn't think that trainer Robert Garcia deserves his reputation as a nice guy, necessarily. The video showed former champion Antonio Margarito mimicking Parkinson's symptoms, and Garcia picking up on it, and encouraging Rios to also do an impersonation of Roach dealing with tremors. "I don't think Garcia has ever been a nice guy," Roach said.
Garcia, at the time, apologized but also defended Rios. "He didn't even know Freddie had a disease," Garcia said to Dan Rafael. "He thought it was from 13 losses that Freddie Roach had when he was a professional boxer."
That backstory aside, Roach said that Rios will be active early, then fade.
"He's a pretty good puncher early," the trainer said. "Then he'll fatigue. But it's a very tough fight, we have to be at our best."
Roach said he and Pacquiao both wanted a fifth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Roach admitted he doesn't know why Marquez instead chose to meet Timothy Bradley in September.
"Who cares about that fight? Rios will bring good numbers to the table."