MACAU - Manny Pacquiao says he’ll be the least surprised if Brandon Rios decides to run instead of going toe to toe with him during their fight slated on Sunday at the Cotai Arena.
The eight-division world champion doubts if Rios will live up to his vow to go all out in the fight from the opening bell, saying he can only hope for it.
“Mabuti nga kung papasok siya ng papasok. Kaso baka tumakbo,” said the hard-hitting Filipino southpaw.
Asked why he thought so, Pacquiao only smiled and raised his right eyebrow as if telling the writer that the answer is obvious.
“Basta hundred percent na tayo. Reading ready na!” Pacquiao said, his mind obviously focused on nothing else but the fight.
“Basta handa ako,” he added.
Asked if his almsot one-year layoff will be a factor in the fight, the Sarangani congressman declared that he has kept himself in condition by playing basketball.
“Araw-araw naman akong nagba-basketball. Kaya walang problema dun (long fight break),” he said.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s chief of staff Haplas Fernandez, brother of his trainer Buboy, explained why his boss fears that Rios will run during the fight.
“Maniwala ka pag tinamaan ni Manny ang bodega (stomach) hahapdian yun, kaya tatakbo. Mahihirapang huminga yun,” said Pacquiao's childhood friend.
The younger Fernandez also believes that Rios may be strong and aggressive, but he hasn’t fought someone in the caliber of Pacquiao.
“Nakita mo na ba yung record niya? May nakita ka nang ka-level nina (Antonio) Margarito, (Oscar) Dela Hoya o (Ricky) Hatton?” said Haplas, who also predicted that Rios might give up in the fifth or sixth round as he can no longer withstand the flurry of punches that Pacquiao will unleash.
“Pero siyempre. Pinaghandaan pa rin natin kung anuman ang bago o tactic na ilalabas nila… hindi tayo nagpapaka-kumpiyansa,” added the Gensan native.