MACAU – Until the end, Brandon Rios was convinced he was no punching bag to Manny Pacquiao.
Despite the one-sidedness of his loss against the man he said is "one of the best fighters in the world," the proud American bragged of having withstood the power of the Pacman and ended up staying on both feet by the end of their 12-round welterweight match.
More than Pacquiao’s dreaded punching power, the 27-year-old former world champion pointed out the Filipino’s quickness and awkwardness were the ones that made the difference in an entertaining fight witnessed by a soldout crowd of 13,101 at the Cotai Arena here.
“He never hurt me one bit. I’m not hurt, I’m not stunned,” said Rios, who showed up at the post-fight press conference wearing dark shades to hide the obvious lump on both of his eyes.
“What got me was his speed and the awkwardness. He was faster than I thought he was,” he pointed out. “His best punch was his quickness.”
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s longtime trainer, earlier tried to play a mind game with Rios and his camp, telling the whole world the American will be turned into a punching bag by the Filipino on fight day.
The scorecards of the three judges lent credence to the claim as Rios lost by scores of 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110.
The Oxnard, California native event went down in the opening round, but it was ruled a slip by referee Genaro Rodriguez.
Still, Rios insisted he felt good and never backed down against Pacquiao.
“He got me a couple of times with a straight left but I never got rattled by him,” said Rios, who has never been knocked out in a pro career that boasts a record of 31-2-1, with 22 KOs.
Rios, whom Pacquiao admitted had hurt him sometime in the fifth round, later raised the 'punching bag' issue once again, posing the question to mediamen just as he was about to leave the podium.
“So how many people here think I’m a punching bag?” he asked as laughter filled the room. Rios later acknowledged one at the far end of the press row, saying “there’s one out there.”
Good thing, he didn’t see Roach at the other side of the dais as the trainer raised his hand in reply to Rios’ question.
But Rios was game enough to approach the five-time Trainer of the Year, exchange pleasantries with him, and shake his hand before leaving.