Tomorrow night, in Macau, China, in the confines of the Cotai Arena, the world of boxing will be given the pleasure of watching 2 warriors in the ring. One of the legends of the sport, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, will square off against, the hard punching, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios. The fight will technically be for the WBO International Welterweight Title, however, this fight will be about a lot more than just an international belt. This fight will define 1, if not both, of these 2 boxers and will either be the end of the road for 1 or the start of rising career for the other. It could even more cement the legendary status of 1 or it could be another disappointment in a tough long road of fights for the other.
There is not much that can be said about Manny Pacquiao that has not been said and is already known already. He is 1 of the legends of the sport. The Filipino southpaw is a 10 time world champion in 8 different weight classes, the only person to do that, and even as he approaches his 35th birthday next month, he is still rated a most boxing experts top 10 pound for pound lists. He will come into the ring with a record of 54-5-2 with 38 KOs, but it is not the overall record that people question. When talking about the Manny Pacquiao of today, they question his age, previously mentioned that he is about to be 35, they question if he can still KO people, his last KO was in 2009, which was 8 fights ago, they question if his chin can still take a punch.
No matter if you are just a fan of the sport or the biggest Pacquiao supporter, in the back of your head; you still have to wonder if he is the still the same Pacquiao after getting put to sleep in his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. We have all seen the pictures of Pacquiao out cold, whether it is on a kids bed, on the ground next to Jordan, or lying across train tracks. All jokes aside, some boxers never, especially ones his age, never recover from getting knocked out like that. Pacquiao is known for throwing punches from all angles, dazzling his opponents with his quickness and high volume of punches. It will be interesting to see if he can continue to do that against a fighter that will come forward without fear and all heart, Brandon Rios.
If you have not seen Brandon Rios fight before, you have missed out on a lot, including a couple fights that both could have been named fight of the year in 2012 and 2013 against Mike Alvarado. The young 27 year old Mexican-American by way of Kansas living in California, comes into this fight with a record of 31-1-1 with 23 KOs. The questions concerning him are completely different than the ones surrounding Pacquiao. After his last 2 fights, his chin is unquestioned, he has age on his side, and even though he could not knock down Mike Alvarado, everyone knows he throws ferocious punches. However, the people who follow the sport also knows that he is not the most technically sound boxer. He has shown improvement, but he is not on the level of a Manny Pacquiao.
Brandon’s style is similar to a bull in a china shop. He is going to come forward, he wants to throw punches and he actually seems to like to get hit. He does not want this to be a technical boxing bout, he want this to be a fight and a hardcore one. I have not been the biggest fan of Rios since he got a gift victory against Richard Abril, a fight 95% of non-Rios fans agree he lost. However, he has gained my respect with his last 2 wars against Mike Alvarado. This is his chance to breakout on the big stage and possible be the new star of Top Rank. He knows the opportunity that is being presented to him and he is the type that you will have to kill him to take that chance away from him. He is the type that his corner would have to save him from himself because he will not quit.
The most interesting part about this fight is seeing which type of Pacquiao steps in the ring. If he is his usual self, he can dance around the ring, hit Rios from a every angle, and move in time to hit him again when Rios lunges in. If he is a step slow, it may be a replay of the Marquez fight, a fight he was winning, where he is out-boxing Rios, but then gets caught and is done. My take on the fight is I have seen what happened to Tyson as he got older, I saw what happened to Roy Jones as he got older, and the fact of the matter is, when you get KO’d later in your career, you are not the same. Because of that, I am picking Rios by 6th round stoppage. Both fighters like to come forward and at this point in their careers, I trust Rios’ chin more than Pacquiao’s.
In this fight, a few questions will be answered. Is Pacquiao done? Is he still the Pacman of old? Will he be a step slower than usual? Will that lost step be all Rios needs to catch him? Is Rios even ready for this type of big time stage? Is this going to be the breakout moment of Brandon Rios’ career? Most people can agree that Rios is the type of fighter that is tailor made for Pacquiao; however, that was the old Pacman. Does this version of Pacquiao make Bam Bam pay for coming forward relentlessly? This very well could be another Mayweather vs. Canelo type teaching lesson or it can be the crowning of a new Lion of the sport. There is only 1 way to find out, tune in to the fight and watch the drama unfold in front of the entire world to see. Enjoy the fights.