Some thought maybe the HBO 24/7 crew would enter the sanitation business, and via editing choices, make either Team Pacquiao/Roach or Team Rios/Garcia look bad in the final episode of the documercial series focusing on the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight and promotion, which debuted on Thursday evening.
They must not be familiar with the principals and track record of that staff; no punches were pulled in the production, and all involved in the heated display came out of it looking exactly as their conduct dictated, for better, or, mostly, worse.
To open, we see planes, and then Brandon Rios talking about digging business class, the food, the movies, the whole nine. He joshes with new strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who was in Manny Pacquiao’s corner for Manny’s last fight, a KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, but was tossed overboard for being a divisive influence, and then hopped on the Rios ship.
Upon landing in Macao, the Cali-based Rios proclaimed himself ready to work. The Kansas native will fight in the largest gambling center in the world. At the Venetian Macao, where he’s staying, Rios works out in a gym in the hotel. And so does Pacman...
Rios has been training at 9 AM, to get used to the early start time Sunday, or, Saturday in the States, when the bout will air.
His trainer Robert Garcia is seen dissing Freddie Roach, who talked trash about his gym being better than Garcia’s. Hmm, get the feeling that their is some bad blood flowing through veins here? Don’t suppose this is a harbinger alert, is it? LOL...
Next, we see Mr and Mrs Pacquaio at home, with Manny coming home to see the family for the first time since the mega-typhoon struck his homeland. The family eats breakfast together and 7-year-old Princess says she will weep if dad loses, and will whoop it up if he wins.
We see Pacman (seen above hearing from Roach during final presser, in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) getting ready for 12 rounds of sparring with three sparring partners. It is his next to last workout. A Filipino, a Liverpudlian and a Chinese boxer will give Manny work.
Next, Rios gets some conditioning in at a track. Ariza is discussed; Rios says he knows his stuff. They visit a youth boxing club near the track. Rios gamely shows the kids some techniques. Then, he does some Skyping with his family back in Cali. "I love you," he says, and repeats to his offspring. Solid stuff from a guy who often shows off a goofball side but clearly has a solid core of decency in him.
Pacman films a public service announcement asking for donations to those hit by the savage typhoon. Then he and Roach do some work. "I can’t wait till we kick their ***," Roach says.
The camp being in General Santos City has been enjoyable for Pacman, he says. "It’s a good break for boxing fans in Asia to watch boxing live," he says. The flight to Macao is 3 1/2 hours long. He studies the Bible to pass much of the time. Roach says Rios is a "young stud" and this fight is risky.
On Tuesday morning, the Pacman crew heads to the gym. Freddie talks about their ride, more than ten years now. He has thought about the end, and when it will come. "This is not a hard fight," the trainer maintains. Manny says "this fight is very important to me, to prove I can still fight," he says. Roach calls Rios "fat" and "lazy" and says he will tell Manny to retire if he loses to Rios.
The Wednesday Rios workout starts late because Rios has been doing press. (Cue re-introduction of harbinger alert theme music....) "I ain’t going nowhere," Garcia says to Roach when Roach requests the gym be handing over to Team Pacquiao at the prescribed time. "Piece of s--t," Roach mutters, and then things take a turn toward Nastyville.
Ariza escalates the issue by mocking Roach’s Parkinson’s symptoms and when Roach steps towards him, escalates it further with a front kick aimed at Roach. We hear Roach say "Mexican emeffer" and Garcia assistant trainer Donald Leary, the recipient of that slur, go ballistic and want a piece of Roach. Ariza then calls a Roach pal a "f----t," slang for a homosexual. "Now it’s personal," Garcia yells at Roach. "C’mon tough guy," Roach says, inviting fellow ex fighter Garcia to do the fistic waltz. Classless Ariza mocks Roach’s Parkinson’s again, pretending to stutter while goading Roach. We see Roach refer to videographer Elie Seckbach, a virtual member of Team Garcia, as a "effin Jew emeffer," again stepping over the line of appropriateness. Ariza, classy to the bitter end, continues to mock the Parkinson’s as Roach leaves the gym. Rios, smartly, continues his cardio.
Roach after says he will stay on message, and getting Pacquiao ready to rumble. Garcia says the spat will motivate his crew even more. "They’re scared, they’re worried," he says. They exit the gym.
Manny shows up, him and Roach chat and process and then get back to work.
Narrator Liev Schrieber wraps it up by noting that the sport is all about butting heads, and violence. He calls that "the nasty realities of the world they’ve all chosen. Boxing is at its heart all about conflict." Violence, he says, "is their most effective method of communication." The final consequence of all the pre-fight drama, "will be revealed Saturday night."
Indeed; who do you like in the Pacquiao vs. Rios fight, readers? What will go down in Macao? Or who...Pacman, again? Or will the Manny who had stellar moments against Marquez in December be mistake free, and use a presumed edge in hand speed, mobility, and accuracy to show Rios he is not an ’A’ grade boxer? Or will Rios be the buzzsaw, undeterred by Manny’s volume, and break down the Congressman, test that chin, and prove that Manny’s days as a marquee attraction and top tier attraction are numbered, or even over? Weigh in, in our fabulous Forum, please.