It’s official. After the longest hiatus of his career, Manny Pacquiao – former seven-weight world champion Filipino boxer, actor, music personality and politician – is coming back to the ring. Pacquiao’s (aka “Pac-Man”) next opponent is WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs), whom the Filipino legend will box at The Venetian in Macau on November 24.
Five months ago Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez, and before that he lost to Timothy Bradley – adding up to a rare two bout losing streak. As these two are scheduled to fight in September, it was assumed Pacquiao would face the winner. A match between Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather was another hoped-for bout that fell through.
The 27-year-old American Rios (aka “Bam Bam”) has developed an aggressive reputation in the ring – more punches, less shielding – a tendency that promises to be an interesting answer to Pacquiao’s “elite offensive arsenal”.
"People know what Rios brings to the table," Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum told ESPN. "People want to see a real fight, and that is what you get with Rios. We're building a business in Macau and China and these are the kinds of fights — real action fights — that they want to see."
Rios, who is also coming to Macau following a defeat by Mike Alvarado in a March rematch, will need to pack on a few pounds of muscle to qualify for the bout, which is set to be fought in the welterweight category. Before losing in March, Rios previously knocked out Alvarado in the seventh round last October
“The two fights with Alvarado were both very close fights and either guy could have won either fight," Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz told ESPN. "We looked at styles and Rios has the better style for Manny. He'll come forward and throw a lot of punches. Whether it goes five rounds or 12 rounds, it is going to be entertaining for the fans, and that is what Manny wants. Rios was Manny's choice after Marquez and Bradley turned it down."
Pacquiao, who is steering clear of fighting in the U.S. for tax reasons, earned U.S. $26 million in his last bout. He is expected to earn a similar figure in Macau, where Rios will purportedly earn more than Robert Guerrero did (U.S. $3 million) from his recent bout with Floyd Mayweather.
In an effort to hype the match, the fighters will hold press tours in New York, Los Angeles and at five cities in China. The highly anticipated bout will be featured on HBO via pay-per-view in the United States, as well as China where the fight will be the nation’s first major pay-per-view event. Chinese viewers will be charged around U.S. $4 or $5.
"We have a whole program of how to market pay-per-view in China, and we're gonna go on a barnstorming tour of China,” Arum said. “In the United States, we market essentially only through cable and satellite systems, but in China, where they have about 1.4 billion people, it's all on the Internet, on iPhones, iPads and computers. If this thing works like we expect that it will, the boxing business will never be the same."
Editor's note: The text has been updated from the original version.