Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios square off at Beverly Hills Hotel

Mark Taffet, an HBO executive, on Thursday said it best when he declared that the Nov. 23 welterweight showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios “has to be a great fight.”

Seriously, there is almost no chance this won’t be a terrific fight when the two square off at the Venetian Resort in Macao, China on HBO pay-per-view.

The interested parties were on hand Thursday at a news conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was a respectful event, with the fighters doling out praise to one another. Robert Garcia, Rios’ trainer, noted how well everyone treated each other during a long press tour that culminated with the stop in Beverly Hills.

But, Garcia said, “On Nov. 23, inside the ring, Brandon Rios and Manny Pacquiao will not be friends. I guarantee that. They are going to beat each other up. Brandon is going to be trying like he’s never tried before.”

Rios, of Oxnard, knows he has a tough task ahead.

“Fighting someone like Manny Pacquiao, he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters out there,” Rios said. “He ain’t no joke.”

Rios, a former lightweight world champion, is 31-1-1 with 23 knockouts. He can crack with the best. As can Pacquiao, who is 54-5-2 with 38 knockouts. Pacquiao loves that combination.

“This is going to be an exciting fight,” Pacquiao said. “I know he (Rios) can give a good fight.”

Pacquiao, 34, has lost his past two fights. At least according to the judges. In June 2012 he had obviously defeated Timothy Bradley at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, only to have the judges somehow score Bradley the winner via split decision. Six months later, in December at MGM Grand, Pacquiao was knocked cold in the sixth round by Juan Manuel Marquez.

Rios’ past two fights have been against Mike Alvarado. Rios, 27, stopped Alvarado in the seventh round of a hard-hitting thriller in October at Home Depot Center in Carson. Alvarado boxed more in the rematch and took a unanimous decision over Rios in March at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email Snailmail