COMMENTARY | Ever since the bout was first announced, there was a silent understanding among many that Brandon Rios' chances of victory were directly related to how far Manny Pacquiao has deteriorated as a fighter.
Well, now that the fight is just days away, there's a feeling in the air that Rios' chances of scoring the mega-upset are next to zero.
We haven't seen much of Pacquiao in training and there's no way to know whether his face-first knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez last December will weigh heavily on his mind come this Saturday, November 23 in Macau, China. There is the assurance, however, that Manny is Manny--and that, alone, may be enough to dissuade the doubters from putting their money where their mouth is.
"Am I confident for my fight with Rios? I am more than confident," Pacquiao said shortly after his arrival in Macau earlier this week. "Rios is bigger than me. Remember Goliath was bigger than David, and yet, David needed just one stone to fell the giant.
"I enter this fight stronger than ever," Pacquiao continued "I have the strength of my country and my people coursing through my body. I fight for them, not for me. I fight for their glory, not mine."
Yes, talk is cheap and many a faded warrior has talked a big game, but the reality behind any pre-fight analysis of Pacquiao-Rios has to be based on the fact that a Manny Pacquiao anywhere near top form will likely make mincemeat out of Rios.
Stylistically, Rios is the perfect type of opponent for Pacquiao. He'll be right there in front of the eight-division former world champ, with virtually no mobility and relatively weak defensive skills, looking to engage at all times. In a toe-to-toe war, Rios has a chance of grinding down and beating Pacquiao, but Pacquiao is not the type of fighter who will dig in, walk forward, and exchange punches inside the pocket. The Filipino icon will be darting in and out of Rios's range, firing off punches at all angles and scoring with spectacular, judge-influencing shots.
Remember, for all his legitimate toughness, Rios is still the fighter thrown off at times by the mobility of a defense-minded Mike Alvarado and befuddled by the awkward style of Richard Abril. Rios is an A+ fighter when fighting on his own terms, but has yet to show himself capable of adapting to and overcoming uncomfortable stylistic match-ups. In Manny Pacquiao, he'll be dealing with one of the most awkward and troubling styles in the sport.
In order for Rios to win, he has to present an added facet to his game and/or prove himself capable of thinking on his feet. He has to somehow force Pacquiao to a close quarters war of attrition or hope that time and recent defeats have taken their toll on Manny's will and drive.
But counting on a diminished Pacquiao as a key ingredient to victory is like counting on winning the lottery to pay your light bill. His knockout loss was eye-catching and ugly, but Manny Pacquiao was not destroyed by that one punch in a fight he was, in all likelihood, on his way to winning.
Manny fights with the weight of a nation on his shoulders and carries the pride of his people into battle. He will be ready for this fight and as close to 100% as humanly possible.
That's bad news for Brandon Rios, who is a real, world class fighter, but nowhere near talented or versatile enough to stand much of a chance against the Pacquiao we've all come to know.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Source: Ring TV
- Sports & Recreation
- Manny Pacquiao
- Brandon Rios