The final presser ahead of Saturday's Manny Pacquiao comeback fight, from having his chin tested and bested by Juan Manuel Marquez last December, occured on Thursday at the Venetian Macao in Macao, one day after a brouhaha erupted in the hotel gym which featured ex Pacman coach Alex Ariza kicking Pacman trainer Freddie Roach.
Yes, what is often a perfunctory exercise was imbued with a sense of anticipation--would Ariza be barred at the door by old promoter Bob Arum, who has had to endure the strength coach's barbs for a long spell?...would Ariza show up in a gi, making Bruce Lee noises?....would Roach announce his un-retirement from boxing, and challenge Ariza to a bout?....would a sanctioning body sanction that bout as a title fight?
Arum, the promoter of the event, said that this card "shows how the world is really a small place." He brought Rios' trainer Robert Garcia to the mic. Anyone expecting fireworks wasn't disappointed, as he lauded Pacquaio's record. He then referenced the Wednesday scuffle, and plugged Elie Seckbach's version of the video. He said he doesn't know what HBO will show of it. He said most reporters are putting pictures up that make his team look bad.
Arum joked that he asked his wife Lovee to call their pal Judge Judy to weigh in, and decide who was in the right, and not.
Roach (seen during Wednesday dustup, in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) came to the mic next. He slammed Garcia, saying that Seckbach is Garcia's friend. "How dumb is that?" he asked. He pivoted off the scuffle quickly, and said Manny is ready to rock.
Arum welcomed Rios to the mic. "Sunday's gonna be a big problem, they think I'm no problem, I'm gonna be a big problem," he said. When he trains properly, he said, he is a beast. "I think this camp is the best I've ever been," he stated. He followed Garcia's directions all the way, he said, and the results will show. "I'm nobody's punching bag...I'm a monster when it comes to that ring," he said.
Arum next talked up the Filipino people. He said that those people are sturdy, "there's no quit in them, they're the best workers and people in the world," in reference to the horrific typhoon which walloped that nation two weeks ago. Pacman, he said, will rep the country in stellar fashion on Saturday night.
Pacquiao went to the mic, and thanked God for the strength, and Arum and the press. Pacquiao said it will be settled in the ring, and said trash talk before the fight isn't a good example for people who like boxing. People need to forgive each other, and this is nothing personal, because it is the fighters' job to entertain people. He dedicated this fight to the people affected by the typhoon.
To start, Arum said the card which will screen on HBO PPV on Saturday night, and then greeted the people of NY, sipping their coffee. He plugged the upcoming Sylvester Stallone-Robert DeNiro film "Grudge Match," and a rebate offer, and Zou Shiming.
The promoter played up the promise of the sports' growth in Asia, and said boxing will be a "major sport" in the region. He said this promotion will be a mighty catalyst for that propulsion, and people will look back on it as momentous.
Arum welcomed HBO sports president Ken Hershman, who said this event demonstrates boxing's global appeal. He plugged the "surprise footage" which will spice up the Thursday 24/7 finale, and lauded Manny, making his 15th appearance on HBO PPV, and Rios, who he said has been in some of HBO's most exciting fights.
All in all, a more mellow event than some anticpated. Rios holding his cool was probably key, as some folks could have followed his lead if he decided to ramp up the heat. Neither Roach not Garcia was backing down in the least, which I thought interesting, as both decided to employ the "the best defense if a good offense method" of coping with a PR backfire. Roach chose not to dignify Ariza' existence, probably a smart move if you're of the mindset that the S & G coach likes all forms of publicity, even the negative type. Garcia interestingly directed a challenge to the 24/7 staff and their editing choices, though I don't see it'd be possible for them to leave out the best bits. All in all, nobody draped themselves in a flag of sportsmanship glory during the fight before the fight in Macao. Slurs were thrown, and while I think we should be careful of tsk-tsk-ing excessively, as if we're all the most righteous and holy, and we should understand tempers flare, and mistakes get made in such an environment, at some point it might be best for people to own up to their part in the conflagration in classy fashion, following the lead of Pacquiao and, believe it or not, Rios.
Also, here is some fresh video, with Roach and Pacquiao talking about the fracas, the myriad potential distractions, and how Manny has looked and felt in training. You should, by the way, bookmark the Boxing Channel and make it a go to site if you haven't already, with correspondent Marcos Villegas embedded in Macao.
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