Retirement not on Manny's mind

SINGAPORE - Maybe one day the world will find out if Freddie Roach meant what he said, or was simply trying to goad his best friend into action.

The legendary boxing trainer said publicly that he would advise his man, Manny Pacquiao, to hang up his gloves if he lost his upcoming bout against Brandon Rios.

They remain tight, because best friends get away with such comments.

But Pacquiao is not quite ready to retire.

Pacquiao, the Philippines' hero, and American Rios were at the Marina Bay Sands on Friday to promote their fight on Nov 24 at the Venetian Macau's Cotai Arena.

Asked what factors would make him walk away from a sport where he is already considered one of the greatest, Pacquiao, 34, said: "First, I don't have (retirement) in my mind and, secondly, I have to encourage some boxers in the Philippines and support them so that, when I eventually retire from boxing, there will be another Manny Pacquiao to bring honour to my country.

"I don't feel like I am getting slower... I still believe I can fight more and give a good Manny Pacquiao fight.

"The last fight I had was one of my best fights in my boxing career. My opponent just got lucky."

After two shock losses, many critics claim that Pacquiao, nicknamed the "Pac Man", has slowed down considerably with age.

Others say he is distracted by his work as a congressman in the Philippines.

There have also been whispers about problems in his marital life.

No surprise then that Pacquiao, the only eight-division world champion, feels a need to "restore the public's confidence" in him after the two successive defeats.

The 1.69m-tall boxer lost his seven-year, 15-bout winning streak in a 12-round split decision to Timothy Bradley Jr in June last year in Las Vegas under highly-controversial circumstances.

The judges scored the fight 115-113, 113-115 and 113-115 in Bradley's favour, but many analysts felt Pacquiao should have won, instead.


Later, five World Boxing Organisation Championship committee judges on the review panel unanimously said that Pacquiao - named "Fighter of the Decade" in the 2000s by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) - should have won, but were powerless to overturn the decision.

Pacquiao suffered another defeat last December in Las Vegas, this time at the hands of Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez.

The three-time BWAA Fighter of the Year was knocked out cold with a stunning left by Marquez in the sixth round.

Long rated the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, his upcoming fight, a 12-round welterweight bout, will mark his first bout outside the United States since his super-featherweight victory over Oscar Larios in the Philippines in 2006.

He said: "I really believe that there will be a lot of people coming for this fight; it's going to be a good fight and it's a great opportunity for Asians to watch the fight live.

"I have to watch (Rios') previous fights, study his style and create a new strategy to use in the fight."

Rios, the 27-year-old former lightweight champion, also has a point to prove.

The California-based fighter is coming off a points loss to Mike Alvarado in Las Vegas in March.

"I am very hungry and I want to be the best. To be the best, you have to fight the best and Manny is considered one of the best out there," said Rios.

"I have been waiting for the past two years and it's my turn now. I want that fame and show the world what I can do... I'm not just a straightforward guy who is like a punching bag.

"Come Nov 24, I will be 100 per cent ready."

Tickets for the multi-bout event, scheduled to start at 8am on Nov 24, are priced between $144 and $1,622. Some US$2.4 million ($3.05m) worth of tickets have already been sold, since sales started three days ago for the 15,000-capacity event.

Boxing fans here can catch a "live" broadcast of the event at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre from 9am. Tickets for the local event - which includes a buffet brunch - will be priced at $50 and go on sale from Sept 2.

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