This time, it at least resembled a two-sided coin.
A week after the debut of HBO's documentary series for the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight ran more like a 30-minute homage to the Filipino champion, the second installment of the series was presented as if it were under the equal-time mandate that governs political season on network TV.
Meanwhile, the broadcast's intro provided a stark reminder that the reality foisted by the two men preparing for a multimillion dollar fight at a Chinese resort was far from that being experienced elsewhere in Pacquiao's home nation, where scores remain in peril in the aftermath of a gargantuan typhoon.
"I want to help them," said Pacquiao, who's both a national sports hero and a significant political figure in his homeland. "I want to dedicate this fight to them. I'm praying for you guys. May god bless you."
The series finale will air on HBO Thursday night, with the weigh-in to be carried live on the network a day later on Friday. The fight will be carried on the cable giant's pay-per-view arm beginning Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
One Man's Trash...
Occupying a prominent role in the second installment—albeit not a speaking one—was Pacquiao's former conditioning coach, Alex Ariza.
"When he first came into camp, he did a good job," Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, said of Ariza. "But then he wanted to do everyone else's job, and that couldn't happen anymore."
Roach said the final straw occurred when Ariza became more vocal during fights and began shouting instructions to Pacquiao in the ring, which prompted the trainer to talk to the fighter about the situation. Pacquiao said he wouldn't tolerate "quarreling" in his camp and gave Roach authority to handle Ariza as he would any employee.
"I hired him," Roach said. "So I'll fire him."
Conveniently enough for Rios, when the chance at a Pacquiao fight came around it provided a chance to add a weapon to his arsenal. He immediately hired Ariza, whom broadcast narrator Liev Schreiber said was now playing a similar conditioning role in the Californian's camp.
"Why put a good player on the sidelines," Rios said. "I don't know how things went down between him and Manny and I don't give a f*ck. That's in the past. I'm looking to the future."
The Corners Are at Odds, Too
Speaking of the guys outside the ring, the respective trainers for the Nov. 23 fight—Roach and counterpart Robert Garcia—upped the ante a bit when it came to their own piece of the rivalry.
Garcia claimed the addition of Ariza and the compilation of fighters like Rios, Nonito Donaire and Mikey Garcia at his facility in Oxnard, Calif. had given him a team he labeled as "unbeatable."
"I'm not saying we'll never lose a fight," he said. "But I think what I've created now with a young, hungry team is better than anything else in boxing world."
Needless to say, Roach, a four-time winner of the Boxing Writers Association of America's premier award for cornermen, wasn't ready to concede that his Wild Card gym had taken a back seat to the new kids on the block. And he certainly didn't appreciate the lack of respect being shown.
"(Rios) is cocky. He's got a big mouth. He's like a little kid sometimes. He's doesn't think before he speaks," Roach said. "I want to show Robert Garcia who's the best trainer and who has the best gym."
Do As I Do, Not As I Say
While Pacquiao was empathizing with the Filipino people and Roach was being labeled a son of his fighter's hometown of General Santos City, the cameras showed Rios to be largely the same vulgar loudmouth in front of his kids as he is in front of his teammates.
"That's one of the reasons I love him," said Rios's wife, Vicky, who's given birth to three of the fighter's five children. "He's the same way both inside the gym and at home. He does swear a lot at home, and he swears around the children."
Rios maintained nearly the same F-bomb pace in episode two (11) as he had in the original (13), but Vicky shrugged it off as simply par for the vocabulary course in their union.
Cameras managed to catch at least a few poignant moments, including Rios gently cradling his almost two-month-old daughter and looking on proudly as his two-year-old girl recited her ABCs.
"I've stopped telling him about (the swearing)," she said. "It doesn't do any good. The more I tell him, the more he does it."
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained from HBO's 24/7 Pacquiao/Rios, which aired on Nov. 16, 2013.
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