Manny Pacquiao, Brandon Rios Continue to Make Most of Small Controversy

| by Alex Groberman

Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios will square off this November in what is one of the two or three most interesting fights scheduled for the end of 2013. Despite the fact that both are coming off losses, and even though there is no title at stake, the names involved are enough to sell the bout to a decent-sized boxing audience.

That being said, there is a noticeable lack of buzz surrounding the proceedings. It’s not anyone’s fault, really, it’s just the way things turned out. When you have a guy who is perceived to be on the decline and another with little in the way of mainstream support, it’s hard to create genuine hype. There is a reason, after all, why this thing is going down in Macao – and it ain’t the American tax system.

Because there are so few storylines surrounding Pacquiao-Rios, every little thing is magnified. Regardless of whether something is a legitimate beef or a total non-issue, it’s treated the same. That’s why there has been so much focus on this Alex Ariza nonsense.

You will recall, after a lot of years of butting heads with him, Freddie Roach decided to fire Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach. The news was mildly surprising initially, but then made a lot of sense when folks thought about it. Shortly after being given the boot, Ariza went to work for Rios. Pacquiao, meanwhile, brought back his old strength and conditioning coach, Justin Fortune.

Again, none of this is front page of ESPN-worthy. It’s all pretty standard. Unfortunately, it’s all we have.

For his part, Ariza seems to insist that he and Pacquiao are fine – despite everything that’s happened.

"As far as the personal thing, I still consider [Pacquiao] a friend," Ariza told Ring’s Ryan Songalia

And Rios, although he hears the crisicsm, doesn’t seem to care much.

"Yes, I got f**king Alex Ariza,” he told Doghouse Boxing. “It's not my fault Manny Pacquiao fired his ass."

At the end of the day, does any of this really matter? Of course not. But given the lack of interesting stories regarding this bout, people will continue to grasp at straws from now until November.