by Kieran Mulvaney
George Foreman - Credit: Will Hart
George Foreman knows a thing or two about fighting far from home. On October 30, 1974, he fought Muhammad Ali in an open-air ring in Zaire in a bout that was dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle” and which concluded with Ali ending Foreman’s heavyweight title reign and unbeaten record with an eighth-round knockout. Perhaps partly because Foreman’s own big overseas adventure didn’t exactly work out as planned, the two-time heavyweight champ emphasizes the difficulties Brandon Rios will face after traveling all the way to Macau, China to take on Manny Pacquiao on HBO PPV on Saturday night.
“It’s going to be rough and that’s all there is to it," Foreman said during a recent conference call with reporters. "You can be there for a month,” he continued, “I have been there [in Macau] for two weeks – it’s just not going to help you. You wake up at the wrong times. You eat at the wrong times. It’s a challenge because like I said, it’s a thing you can’t control. It’s your body. Forget about the mental showdown. It’s a physical showdown. Pacquiao, because he lives in that area, boy it’s probably going to be a shut out if he is on his game at all.”
Pacquiao, of course, is coming off a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in his last fight, and Foreman’s fellow legend Sugar Ray Leonard argues that Rios needs to waste no time reminding him of that.
“What Brandon Rios needs to do is not let Pacquiao forget about what took place in his last fight,” he said during the same call. “Rios has to jump right on top of Pacquiao, because what happens when you get knocked out in the fashion that Pacquiao was knocked out, it becomes like an Achilles heel. But if there is anyone that could block that out, Pacquiao is definitely the guy to do that. This fight depends on who dominates the other, who takes control early in the fight.”
Conversely, Leonard’s archrival Roberto Duran, while agreeing that Rios needs to be assertive, sees Pacquiao as someone who in the wake of the Marquez loss has something to prove.
“Brandon Rios needs to be very careful because I once was knocked out and I came back and won the title, so by no means can you count Manny Pacquiao out – he is a very dangerous fighter,” said the Panamanian legend. “Brandon Rios needs to be intelligent in the ring, protect himself at all times because he doesn’t know where these hits are coming from. Manny Pacquiao is not finished in my eyes and I still believe he is one of the world’s most dangerous fighters. I just give some advice to Brandon Rios – go in and attack and don’t be afraid and don’t hesitate because he can win if he fights intelligently. Manny Pacquiao is still a very dangerous fighter.”
“Pacquiao is not finished even though he was knocked out in a vicious manner,” agreed Leonard. “If there is anyone that has the ability to come back, both physically and psychologically, it’s Manny Pacquiao. So Rios, having to become acclimated to being there, even though he is there now, it does take time. It’s an intriguing fight.”