MACAU – Manny Pacquiao will put his boxing career on the line when he enters the ring for Sunday’s bout against Brandon Rios. He also will be representing a nation stricken by disaster.
It’s a lot to handle, but Pacquiao was a picture of serenity and confidence as he smiled and waved to a mostly Filipino crowd attending the weigh-in on Saturday at The Venetian casino in Macau.
The WBO international welterweight title is the official prize, but for this fight is about so much more for Pacquiao.
Coming off consecutive losses — the most recent a devastating knockout at the hands of Juan-Manuel Marquez almost a year ago — Pacquiao has been written off by many as a fading star whose days as the world’s pound-for-pound champion are gone for good. It’s been four years since he stopped an opponent, and favorable comparisons with Floyd Mayweather Jr. seem like distant memories.
Long-time trainer Freddie Roach has upped the stakes by saying Pacquiao should retire if he does not perform up to expectations in Macao.
If that pressure was not enough, Pacquiao must also deal with the turmoil back in the Philippines, which is struggling with the impact of this month’s devastating typhoon.