A few weeks ago, Freddie Roach did an interview in which he insinuated that Manny Pacquiao could knock Brandon Rios out. It wasn’t controversial, and it shouldn’t have been a big deal. It was just a trainer hyping up his fighter, nothing more and nothing less. However, when it was pointed out that in reality there was absolutely no chance of Pacquiao finishing his opponent off early this November, people got a little testy.
Again, saying that Pacquiao can’t knock people out anymore isn’t an indictment on him as one of the two best fighters of his era. It’s simply an observation rooted in the evidence. And the evidence is what he has done over the past three years: win fights by decisions. If you haven’t knocked anyone out since 2009, and you’re facing off against a guy who has never been knocked out, common sense says you won’t win by knockout. This should not be a controversial statement. And yet, for whatever reason, it was.
This week, Pacquiao and Bob Arum participated in a Q&A with reporters about the upcoming Rios fight. One member of the press specifically asked Pacquiao, point blank: Will you knock Rios out?
Pacquiao was surprisingly honest in his reply.
“I will not go for the knockout in this fight, but if I have a chance to finish early, why not?” he said. “I am not thinking that I need to knock him out. In training if I focus on a knockout I will get careless in the ring on the night of the fight. So what I need to do is focus in training so I am ready to get in the ring on the night of the fight.”
It’s hard to say whether or not Pacquiao was suggesting that going for the knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez is what cost him, but his answer is a good one either way. He won’t go for the knockout because recent history tells us he won’t get it even if he does go for it. So why get hasty and all sorts of careless chasing something that’s out of your reach anyway?
Pacquiao will probably beat Rios next month. He’ll probably do it in as impressive fashion as one can against a guy who is as aggressive and hard to stop as Rios is. But he won’t knock him out. And if Pacquiao can accept that, fans should be able to as well.