This Saturday night at the Venetian Resort in Macau, China marks the return of one of boxing’s superstar’s. Manny Pacquiao will be trying to jump start his career once again as he takes on Brandon Rios in an overseas event that promoter Bob Arum promises will be special. Pacquaio, the number two bestselling PPV boxer in the world behind Floyd Mayweather, will be looking to wipe away the last memories that the fans have of him where he suffered a one punch knockout lose to Juan Manuel Marquez in December of 2012. Despite Pacquiao’s wish to return to the ring in April of 2013 he was advised by trainer Freddie Roach to take some time off from the sport of boxing after the brutal loss had fans wondering if he’ll ever be the same again. Saturday night will be the first time Pacquiao has stepped into the ring since he fell to Marquez.
Standing in his way is a hard hitting Mexican brawler from Onxard, CA. Brandon Rios is no push over, he’s no tune-up, and he’s definitely not showing up just for the paycheck. Rios is coming to put pressure on, throw a lot of punches, and to knock Pacquiao out. There is nothing defensive about him. For the second year in a row Rios has a fight that is in the running for the Fight of the Year. Last year his fight against Mike Alvarado won the 2012 Fight of the Year award on tons of media outlets. In 2013, Rios met Alvarado for a second time in another fight that is expected to be in the running for the Fight of the Year. Rios is as every bit as fun to watch as anyone in boxing.
“I want Manny Pacquiao to hit me. I want to feel his power.” Those are the words spoken from the confident Rios. If you know anything about him, or have seen some of his fights, you believe every single word that statement says. Rios loves to get hit. He takes it with a smile then hits back with combinations and hard punches. Saturday night is his chance to shine in the spotlight, and make not mistake about it, he is going to do everything he can to win the fight.
The questions that are on everyone’s minds are mostly that of Manny Pacquaio. It’s not too complicated to figure out what Brandon Rios is going to do Saturday night. He’s going to get into that ring and try to brawl. He doesn’t know any other way to fight. How Pacquiao reacts to the pressure of Rios is what has the boxing fans guessing. Is he done? Can he handle the punches of Brandon Rios? Will one punch knock him out again?
Brandon Rios was picked for a specific purpose. That purpose is to answer the lingering questions that lie behind Pacquiao’s return. His style matches everything that the old Pacquiao would have licked his lips at. Two years ago Pacquiao would have decimated Rios in the ring in every aspect. Rios’s come forward with no head movement style easily falls into the hands of the quicker, angle punching Pacquiao. Rios wouldn’t have had any sort of chance of winning the fight if this were 2011. However, this isn’t two years ago, and this isn’t the same Pacquiao. Or is it?
After suffering two losses in 2012 it’s easy to say that Manny Pacquiao has nothing left. But if you take a look at both of those fights it could be very deceiving. The first fight was against Timothy Bradley. Pacquaio won the fight easily and was robbed on the scorecards of Duane Ford and CJ Ross, who both just happen to not be judging boxing anymore. Most media and judges had Pacquiao winning the fight by a landslide. Although it goes down as a loss on paper it was anything but that. Later in the year Pacquiao would take on Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time. Marquez is a fighter that has always given him trouble. In the fight against Marquez, Pacquiao was well ahead on the scorecards before the one punch KO from Marquez ended the fight. In fact, Pacquiao looked better in that fight against Marquez than he did in the previous three. It may have seemed like Pacquiao’s skills had diminished in 2012 but it was more of the result of terrible judging and one good punch that changed Pacquiao’s entire year.
It’s a new year, new location, and new fight for Manny Pacquiao. A dominate win by Pacquiao where the fans can see he hasn’t lost a beat will skyrocket him back to fame and fortune where a loss at the hands of Rios would most likely end any faith the fans have left in him. For Rios it’s a chance to take advantage of an older, perhaps diminished Pacquiao and show the world that he can be a star.
It’s not going to be easy but I think Manny Pacquiao will be too much for Brandon Rios. His speed, angle punches, and combinations will fluster Rios who will come forward the entire night trying to make it a brawl. Rios doesn’t move his head a lot so I expect Pacquiao to land a lot of punches. I think Pacquiao’s chin will hold up when Rios does find his mark and that hard exchanges will be made on both ends. Rios will put together a spirited effort that will fall short. His only chance will be to land a huge punch that hurts Pacquiao. The interesting thing about that is that we know it can happen. It will be a fun fight to watch that’s worth the buy. Pacquiao wins 117-111.