MACAU, China -- "You know what the funniest thing about a fight card in Macau is?"
"It's the little differences. Fight week in a casino in China is a lot like fight week in a casino in Las Vegas, but it's just a little ... different."
For folks following fight-week proceedings on HBO and online, any divergences between this Saturday's card, headlined by Manny Pacquiao's welterweight tussle with Brandon Rios, and the usual Vegas fare are likely to be minimal at most. The final prefight press conference, scheduled to kick off at 8.30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, is somewhat earlier in the day than usual; the weigh-in, slated to take place at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, is perhaps a smidgen later. But the HBO PPV broadcast kicks off at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday night, as always; the main event is billeted to kick off around 11:15 p.m. ET or so, as is normally the case.
On the ground in Macau, though, where local time is 13 hours ahead of New York and Washington, D.C., the distinctions are somewhat more noticeable. The press conference is late at night; the weigh-in is very early on a Saturday morning. And the fight card itself will get underway bright and early on Sunday.
Not that Brandon Rios professes to be bothered by any of that.
"I've been here already for one week, and I already got used to the time difference," he told a small group of reporters, all of whom had been in Macau for approximately four hours, in his suite at the Venetian Macao on Monday. "Actually, today was the first time I woke up at the right time, not waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning like I was before. I woke up at 7, 8 o'clock, right before training at 9, and I feel great."
As for fighting in the morning instead of late at night? That, said Rios, shouldn't pose a challenge, either.
"If you're a fighter, you don't care what time you fight, as long as you have an opponent in front of you," he said. "I don't care who I'm fighting, where I'm fighting or what time it is. As long as he's in front of me and he's ready, that's all that matters."
Besides, as trainer Robert Garcia pointed out, it isn't as if Rios is the only one facing an unusual schedule. Pacquiao will be fighting at the same time -- it would be an unusual and unentertaining spectacle if he weren't, after all. And in fact, the start time potentially makes for a seamless segue for Rios, whose fight-week training schedule is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. each day in on-site facilities that the two camps must share.
"When I got here, they asked me what time we wanted to train," Garcia told reporters after they had spoken with Rios. "I said around noon, and they told me, 'Sorry, you can't train at noon, because Freddie Roach took 11 to 4. Five hours? So I figure that's kind of on purpose, to [mess] with us a little so that we have to train either early or late. Five hours? Who the [heck] trains for five hours? 'Oh, he's got two fighters on the card.' So do I. I've got Evgeny Gradovich, too. We're going to train him and Brandon together, at the same time. But I don't let that affect my fighters or my team. We're waking up early anyway. Around that time [on Sunday] Brandon will likely be walking to the dressing room anyway."
Garcia smiled. "Hey, they can get away with things like that. Maybe after this fight, we'll be the ones who can do that."