LOS ANGELES — Three months ago, Brandon Rios was down and despondent after the first loss of his professional career. Mike Alvarado had won the rematch between the two boxers, and it had Rios concerned for his future.
"I remember that night in the dressing room he was like, 'I lost my undefeated record. Now I'm not going to get a big fight,' " Rios' manager Cameron Dunkin said.
"I thought, 'I have to start all over again,' " Rios recalled. "I didn't think I was going to be right there on top again. I was really disappointed."
Fast forward to Thursday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Top Rank held the final news conference for the Rios-Manny Pacquiao November pay-per-view bout in Macao, and clearly Rios was wrong.
But with his attitude, it's no wonder Rios was able to pick himself up and get ready to fight again. Sure, he was low for a few days, but then he wanted to get right back in the ring.
"He called me, and we talked, and I told him I was going to pitch him for fights," Dunkin said. "He said, 'Get me a rematch with Alvarado. I don't want to go backwards.' "
The third match between those two may not be happening just yet, but the bout with Pacquiao will do just fine.
But what ended well didn't necessarily begin well. Dunkin said that Top Rank was initially thinking of pairing Pacquiao with Alvarado, and gave Rios' camp the runaround. But Dunkin and Top Rank president Todd duBoef were able to work out a deal despite wanting significantly more money than Alvarado.
"I pitched my guy for the fight because Brandon was begging me for it, wanted it," Dunkin said. "Todd duBoef, though, I think he did a great job."
Just getting the fight was a victory of sorts for Rios because Dunkin said the boxer has been clamoring for a big-name bout for the last two years. And though the last Alvarado matchup was significant, Dunkin said it "wasn't, you know, anything like this."
"This" being a ballroom adorned in Chinese decorations — not to mention a ceremony that began by weaving eight people through the crowd in a Chinese dragon. And, of course, "this" includes a tour that spanned more than 22,000 miles in two weeks.
But it's also what Rios wanted all along. His trainer, former IBF super featherweight champion Robert Garcia, said Rios got emotional when they first received word from Dunkin that the fight was confirmed for November 23.
"Brandon was very happy because not only is that a big fight, but he's going to be able to bring a lot for his family," Garcia said. "He's got kids, he's got a wife, so it's going to help him out."
The only other time in the process Rios' feelings have gotten the best of him was when the tour began. The 27-year-old said he was speechless when he first saw Macao with Pacquiao – something that never happens.
"I actually got emotional because it was reality," Rios said. "I was right there next to him, and it was really happening. It wasn't on paper anymore."
Even though it will be Rios' first time fighting overseas, the Oxnard, Calif., native exudes a confidence that explains why he's not worried about the fight.
"It is my first rodeo, but you know what, I've been boxing all my life – since I was 8 years old," he said. "Once I start training, and change my attitude and my mentality and everything, I won't be nervous." Indeed, nerves are not a factor even though the fight is more than three months away because Rios is well aware of what a victory could do for his future.
"He's looking past Manny – after beating Manny, what comes after," Garcia said. "And it's unbelievable what can happen after that."
That doesn't just apply to the boxing ring. After getting shuttled across the globe for thousands upon thousands of miles, Rios has started to get used to the perks of being a celebrity.
"I love that fame, the way I was treated," he said. "The fame, the experience, everything. I want that."
And there is no better way to keep it than a victory over the legendary Pacquiao.
"I want to be on top of the world," Rios said. "I have to."
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