Manny Pacquiao will look to break a two-fight losing streak when he returns to the ring on Nov. 24 (Nov. 23 in the U.S.) at The Venetian in Macau, China, to fight Brandon Rios in a 12-round welterweight bout, Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz exclusively told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.
The bout will be distributed on HBO pay-per-view in the U.S. Significantly, though, Koncz said it is going to be sold online in China in something of a test run for the American equivalent of $5 or $6.
Pacquiao had also been considering Mike Alvarado, but Koncz said the choice to go with Rios was made because of the style matchup. Rios is a straight-ahead fighter who loves to get into a slugfest and it should make for a sensational television bout.
"Rios isn't going to get in there and dance around and run around," Koncz said. "He's going to come to fight. He'll move straight forward and try to brawl with Manny, and that's the kind of fight that will be very entertaining for the fans. Anyone who knows these two guys knows there's really no other way for them to fight."
It will be Pacquiao's first bout since Dec. 8, when he was knocked out late in the sixth round by a crushing right hand in his fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao was interested in a fifth bout with Marquez, but Marquez didn't have the same interest.
Marquez will fight Timothy Bradley Jr., a bout now tentatively set for Sept. 14 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. However, Floyd Mayweather Jr. said he also plans to fight on that date, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and if he does, Top Rank will move the Marquez-Bradley fight to another date.
Pacquiao remains one of boxing's biggest stars, both at the gate and via pay-per-view. He's extraordinarily popular in Asia. Casino operators throughout the region were hoping to land a Pacquiao fight. He appeals to many of the high-rolling Asian gamblers, who would come out in bigger numbers than they traditionally do for a Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas.
Top Rank promoted a small show on April 6 at the Venetian Macao. The casino win on the night before the fight and the night of the fight was nearly 70 percent higher than normal. That win figure for two nights was more than some Las Vegas casinos win in a year, according to Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
He said casino officials wouldn't allow him to leave without committing to another fight.
"We had a party and they insisted I bring another fight there or they said they wouldn't let me go," he said.
As a result, Top Rank will bring a show to the Venetian on July 27. After that show, it will take Pacquiao on a barnstorming media tour throughout Asia to promote the Rios fight.
Major League Baseball Advanced Media will distribute the online pay-per-view in China, Arum said.
"This is what I've been talking about for a while," Arum said of bringing the pay-per-view to computers and mobile devices world-wide. "Can I guarantee it's going to work? No, but this is a massive country and they're very online savvy. If we even get a small percentage [to buy], it will change the parameters of boxing forever."
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said Pacquiao plans to prepare for the fight in General Santos City in the Philippines in order to avoid distractions. He said he was glad to see that Koncz and Arum opted to go for Rios over Alvarado.
"Rios is a good fighter who fights well in the pocket, but he's more hittable," Roach said. "I want to see Manny with a good performance. I think he can knock this guy out, and this guy is one of the new generation of fighters coming up. It's a fight that if he wins it, would keep Manny in the pound-for-pound Top 10 and Brandon Rios made some remarks about me a couple of years ago, so seeing him get knocked out by Manny would be some sweet revenge."
Zou will headline the July 27 card in Macau against Jose Ortega, Arum said. Also on that card will be an IBF featherweight title fight between Evgeni Gradovich against Maurcio Javier Munoz; a flyweight title fight between Juan Francisco Estrada and Milan Melindo and a heavyweight bout between Andy Ruiz and Joe Hanks.
Arum said he's also planning to do a show in Singapore after the Zou show in Macau.
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