By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Eight division world champion and "Fighter of the Decade" Manny Pacquiao, in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN's Dyan Castillejo and this reporter who are here to cover the "Fists of Gold II" fight card for the giant broadcast network said "boxing is my passion. I love boxing and we will rise again."
In the interview at his suite in the plush Venetian Resort Hotel, Pacquiao told us he is " excited about the November 24 fight" against the aggressive Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios.
Asked about how he feels fighting in the Venetian, Pacquiao said "its not new to me. I've been here before and I'm used to it."
Pacquiao who took the opportunity to preach to us said "I'll do what we can" but emphasized that "without God we can do nothing."
He said the long layoff from his stunning 6th round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last December 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas "won't hurt because I exercise everyday playing basketball and volleyball" even as he revealed he does some boxing.
Pacquiao didn't make any predictions about the Rios fight but disclosed "I need to start light training next week, in the month of August because I had a long layoff. I need to get back in the best condition of my boxing career."
The two term congressman from the lone district of Sarangani where his charming wife Jinkee who is with him in Macau, is vice governor, said " I missed boxing. I missed the boxng ring,the gloves because its been all basketball."
Pacquiao reiterated "my success in boxing is a gift of God. We all have different talents and we must take care of it and do what we can to take care."
The devastating southpaw puncher and a hero to millions in the Phiippines and around the world said he is looking forward to the Rios fight and said he "likes his style because he keeps coming forward" and expressed the hope that Rios "doesn't try to run so we'll have a great fight and the fans will enjoy."
Following a press conference alongside Rios and with trainers Freddie Roach and Robert Garcia and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, Pacquiao will be at special ringside to watch undefeated mandatory challenger Milan Melindo strive to regain the WBO/WBA flyweight championship titles that Brian Viloria lost to Mexico's Juan Francisco Estrada and support two more promising undefeated fighters in Genesis Servania and Dave Penalosa.
The entourage will embark on a long promotional tour through three Chinese cities, Singapore, New York and Los Angeles before Pacquiao returns to Manila.
Pacquiao said he plans to train in his hometown of General Santos City. He said he hasn't spoken to Roach about when the trainer will join his training camp although Roach had earlier indicated he would probably be in the Philippines one month before the fight.
Pacquiao wished all three Filipino boxers on today's Top Rank card "good luck and God bless you and take care of you."