Philippines superstar Manny Pacquiao has revealed he has "probably two and a half years" left before he retires from the ring, but he will make the most of his twilight years beginning with victory against American Brandon Rios in November in Macau.
Pacquiao will meet Rios in the "Clash of Cotai" on November 24, the 34-year-old's first fight since his devastating knockout defeat by Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas in December. That came hard on the heels of his loss to American Timothy Bradley last June, which ended in controversy after most observers thought the Filipino had won on points, only for the fight to be given to Bradley.
"I need to prove that I can still fight. The last two fights, I lost. I need to recover from that.
"This is a big opportunity in Macau and it's going to be a very good fight because Rios likes to fight toe to toe. Of course, we always have to pray to God that nobody gets hurt," said Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), who arrived in Macau on Thursday.
"This is a good opportunity for boxers like us to fight in Macau. It's a new market. We want to market boxing in China. I don't know whether I will finish my career in Macau, it's up to my promoter. But I'm happy to be fighting in Macau because this city is very close to the Philippines and there's no jet lag," he said.
Pacquiao will focus on his first fight outside Mexico, the Philippines and the US in a non-title welterweight (147 pounds) contest over 12 rounds at the Venetian CotaiArena.
"I saw him [Rios] fight before. I have confidence for the fight. Part of my confidence comes from experience and I believe I am stronger than him and of course, I have God," said Pacquiao, who is a devout Christian.
"It's difficult for me because I haven't fought since last December, but what I need to do this time is to prepare and to start working out and get back the condition I had before. I need to prepare for the fight for at least three months. I will stay in the Philippines because there's no time difference between Macau and the Philippines.
"My training with Freddie [Roach] will last about six weeks, but before that you have to start training. Next month I will begin … my training in General Santos [the Philippines]," Pacquiao told the Sunday Morning Post.
The first and only world champion from eight weight divisions, Pacquiao said he would start by building his stamina and doing gym work.
"I usually do one hour of running in the morning and in the afternoon I will do two hours in the gym. That's normal for me. I won't do anything different compared to last time. I stay in shape everyday by playing basketball, another sport I love," he said.
Pacquiao has the memory of his two successive defeats behind him, saying he had no excuses and adding he was in "my best shape for those fights".
"It's part of the sport, sometimes you lose and sometimes you win. I can still fight for another two, or two-and-a-half years. I will be 36 or 37 [by that time] before I can retire," said Pacquiao.
A congressman from Sarangani province with high political ambitions and a great humanitarian, donating millions to the poor, Pacquiao said boxing remained his number one priority.
"Also aside from boxing after my fight, my priority is my job as a congressman. It's a different world. I'm enjoying it and I love to serve people," he smiled.
Rios, who also attended yesterday's press conference to announce the fight, was confident of an upset victory.
The 27-year-old from Oxnard, California (31-1-1, 22 KOs) is a former WBA lightweight champion, but has never fought the likes of Pacquiao before.
"I'm nervous speaking in front of you all, but I am not nervous about the fight. Come November 24, I am going to be 100 per cent ready mentally and physically. I am going to show the world about me and show everybody who said bad things about me that I am going to be just a punching bag. I'm going to prove them wrong," said Rios.
Rios' coach, Robert Garcia, a former IBF junior lightweight champion, said Rios could be the next superstar in the division.
"The whole world will be watching. I would like to thank Pacquiao for giving us the challenge for the fight. He's one of the best of all time," said Garcia.
Pacquiao will cover 53,000 kilometres, as he continues to promote the November fight, travelling to Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Connecticut, New York and finally Los Angeles.
Tickets for the Pacquiao-Rios fight will be the most expensive in Macau history, priced from HK$880 to HK$9,880 for ringside seats.