A pay-per-view pedigree has provided Manny Pacquiao the clout to arrange his fight pace as he wishes.
To his credit, Pacquiao has maintained a two-fight per-calendar-year schedule since the Philippines native burst onto the pound-for-pound elite seven years ago. Unlike fellow pay-per-view kingpin Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose inactive periods sometimes extend two years, Pacquiao has remained busy.
That was until Pacquiao’s last fight — now approaching a year. The uncommon distance between bouts is rare for Pacquiao, who will return to the ring Saturday night against Brandon Rios in Macau, China.
The scheduled 12-round welterweight bout will be the first time in his career that Pacquiao has fought only once in a calendar year.
Pacquiao believed he was due for a lengthy break, considering his setbacks last year. After Pacquiao’s controversial split decision loss against Timothy Bradley in June, nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez knocked him out in six rounds six months later.
“The year off has been good and I am very excited to get back in the ring and fight and to do it for the fans,” Pacquiao said in a recent conference call. “I feel very fresh, strong and fast.”
A fresh, strong, fast and successful Pacquiao helps the sport. In his two recent performances, especially the loss against Marquez, he looked vulnerable.
Marquez floored Pacquiao twice, including the fight-finishing punch that sent Pacquiao face-first to the canvas, where he briefly lay motionless after the fight ended.
“That’s boxing — sometimes you win and sometimes you lose,” Pacquiao said. “I am not going to complain or worry about what happened. I forgot already what happened.”
Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) believes Rios is the ideal opponent in his bid to snap the two-fight losing streak. Although known for his pressure and busy volume punching, Rios (31-1, 23 KOs) has never fought above the 140-pound weight class.
“That’s what I want, his style of fighting,” Pacquiao said. “He likes to come inside and I like that style. I don’t like to chase and I’m pretty sure I won’t have to chase him.”
Locals turn out
MO Promotions presented its first local card Tuesday at Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena and one matchmaking strategy perhaps resulted in a healthy turnout.
Approximately 2,000 spectators attended the midweek show and a possible reason might have been the influential presence of popular local fighters on the eight-bout card.
In addition to Miami resident Michael Oliveira, who fought in the main event and lost an entertaining bout against Mexico’s Norberto Gonzalez, the card also featured South Florida-based fighters Yunieski Gonzalez, Hairon Socarras, Steve Geffrard and Vilier Quiñones.
Each fighter brought his respective cheering section. Geffrard’s followers particularly had reason to cheer the Boca Raton resident, who won his first professional bout after two losses.
Geffrard, who won three national amateur tournaments in 2011, scored a third-round technical knockout win over Jamel Burnside in their cruiserweight bout.
Gonzalez, Socarras and Quiñones also won their bouts.
Super-middleweight titleholder Andre Ward returned to the ring Saturday after a 14-month absence and won a lopsided unanimous decision against Edwin Rodriguez in Ontario, Calif.
All three judges scored the bout for Ward, 118-106, 116-108 and 117-107. Ward injured his right shoulder late last year and underwent surgery.