Punching bag. Guinea Pig. Pushover.
Those are among the kinder terms being hurled at Brandon Rios these days by a legion of critics that seems to grow daily in both number and ferocity. That’s what happens when you’re about to go toe-to-toe with one of the most beloved boxing stars in history.
A Mexican-American brawler who seems to thrive the harder he’s hit, Rios comes into the fight as a 9-2 underdog, although his youth and brutal intensity will be enough to make things interesting, if not shock the boxing world. Rios called me two days before leaving for China to talk about why he’ll defeat Pacquiao, explain the origins of his blood lust, and offer a few choice words for those mouthy critics of his.
Jeff Royer: This fight is a huge opportunity for you. You could really make this your time. Can you talk about what this means to you?
Brandon Rios: It means a lot. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time now. I think two, three years ago I wasn’t ready, but I’m ready for a big opportunity now. I’m ready to show the world what I can do. I’m ready to show the world that Brandon Rios is on the next level.
JR: You’re going to be fighting in Pacquiao’s backyard, and you said yourself that if this is a close fight, it probably goes to him. So that said, what do you need to do to win?
BR: What I’ve got to do to win the fight is go out there and beat him convincingly, beat him like 10 to 12 rounds convincingly and show the world that I’m the champion, that I am ready for the next level. I’ve got to go to China and go the distance.
JR: You’re a brawler, and you’re going to be testing his chin. Do you think he’s ready for you?
BR: Honestly, I don’t know if he’s ready. I know I’m ready. I’m ready for Pacquiao to come and give me whatever he’s got. I think I do best when I have a guy in front of me who’s willing to trade with me. I do the best work then.
JR: What does Pacquiao need to do to beat you? Can his speed do it?
BR: To beat me, he better come with a [expletive] hammer and some loaded gloves, because I’m ready. He better come ready. He better knock my ass out, because I’m ready.
JR: Do you think you have some strengths that he’s underestimating?
BR: I think so. I think my youth, and I’m just a physically strong guy. I can take a punch pretty well. I come to fight all the time and I bring my A game all the time.
JR: You’ve got plenty of skeptics who think you shouldn’t even be in the ring with Pacquiao in the first place. Why do you think some people are so quick to write you off?
BR: Because everybody sees me as a punching back, like a tune-up fight. I’ll tell you one thing, I’m no punching bag, I’m no tune-up fight. Everbody’s going to see. Supposedly, I’m easy to hit, but honestly, when’s the last time people seen me come out of the ring all [messed] up? That’s why everybody’s taking me lightly, because they listen to these [expletives] that don’t know [expletive] about boxing. They listen to them and they think, ‘Oh, they’re right. That critic guy was right. He said it perfect.’ It’s OK, though. I’ll let them keep writing me off. I’ll just go in there on November 23 and prove them all wrong.
JR: Either you let them get in your head, or you use it as fuel.
BR: Honestly, it’s great. I like it. It gives me energy to train harder and it gives me motivation to prove to these guys that they’re [wrong] and shut them up, show them that, don’t ever [expletive] doubt me again. I love it.
JR: Win or lose, this is going to be a career payday for you.
BR: I’m not thinking about the payday. To me, I really don’t care about the payday, honestly. What I care about is fighting one of the best out there. I want to beat him so I can prove all the critics out there wrong. I belong with the top guys, and I just want to show the world that I belong with these guys. So it’s not really about the payday for me.
JR: It’s clear that boxing is important to you. You named all four of your kids after boxers. Why are you so passionate? Why do you fight?
BR: Why do I fight? Because it’s what I love to do. It’s my passion. I’ve always been a troublemaker at home. It’s just what I love. I love seeing a guy get hurt. I love seeing people bleed. It drives me. It makes me who I am. I love hitting guys and I love seeing people hurt. I love to see them hurt in the ring. It doesn’t bother me. Outside the ring, too. When I was outside on the street, I used to get into a lot of trouble. I used to break people’s jaws. Did I have sympathy for them? [Expletive], no. I love it. It was a high for me.
JR: I think you’re a guy that I don’t want to get in a fight with.
BR: Ha. Why would I have sympathy for someone who’s trying to hurt me? If they’re a kid, yes, I have sympathy. But grownups? They already lived life.
JR: On the day after the fight, after whatever happens happens, what do you want everyone to be thinking about Brandon Rios?
BR: After the fight, I want everyone to think Brandon Rios is the [expletive] boss. He’s a beast, he comes to fight and he’s always ready. That’s what I want. Because when I’m done with boxing, I want to be remembered as a fighter like Arturo Gatti, those type of fighters that people are still talking about today. That’s what I want to be remembered like.
Click here for more interviews and behind-the-scenes action leading up to the Pacquiao-Rios fight.
Click here to order.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.