By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Pac-Man returns to face Brandon Rios on Saturday
Will Saturday’s showdown between Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) and Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) mark the end of “The Pac-Man?” Will Rios, the rugged Californian of Mexican-decent, send Pacquiao into a miserable retirement? Pacquiao-Rios will headline an all-important HBO Pay-Per-View event from the Venetian in Macau, China.
This fight is significant because, Pacquiao will be fighting in desperation to prove that he is still one of the most amazing fighters in the world. “The Pac-Man,” will be fighting for his life on Saturday. He will be fighting to prove that he has fully recovered from his one-punch knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight last year.
Pacquiao is arguably one of the greatest success stories in the last 10 years having retired Erik Morales, Marcos Antonio Barrera, Oscar De La Hoya, and Ricky Hatton in violent fashion. Pacquiao tarnished Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, and David Diaz en route to becoming the most popular fighter in the world. However, as great of a career Pacquiao has, the reality is that he hasn’t recorded a knockout victory in four years when he stopped Cotto (TKO 12) in 2009 and hasn’t won a fight in more than two years when he last defeated Marquez (W 12) in their third fight in 2012.
Manny will be fighting a young, previously undefeated, and a former world champion in Rios. He is an all-action, straight-forward slugger. If there is anyone that can test Manny inside of the boxing ring, it is Rios. He will let the world know whether Pacquiao has fully recovered from his knockout defeat to Marquez by landing the first significant punch on Saturday. Will Pacquiao stagger backwards? Will he fall? Will Pac-Man rage forward and attack Rios the way he did against everyone else? Either way, Rios will have 12, 3-minute rounds to what Marquez did in seven rounds last year.
Pacquiao is the better boxer of the two. His ability to move from side-to-side, in-out, forward-backwards is very confusing for his opponents. Pacquiao is very difficult to time and counter, which is why his knockout defeat to Marquez was shocking because, Marquez timed Pacquiao perfectly coming in. Pacquiao’s blend of hand-speed and power fighting from out of the southpaw stance is unique and fun to watch. Pacquiao is a more explosive puncher than Rios, but is he as durable? Rios has proven throughout his young career that he loves to both give and receive punishment. His two fights against Mike Alvarado and his battle against Lamont Peterson helped put Rios on the map as one of the most exciting fighters in the sport.
Pacquiao should beat Rios. Pacquiao should emerge victorious in front of his Asian followers, but there are many questions hovering over Manny’s head. A terrible Typhoon recently swept through the Philippines. A lot of people are in desperate need of help and it is up to Pacquiao, as their Congressman, to assist his people. His trainer Freddie Roach recently got into a physical dispute between Rios’ trainer Roberto Garcia, Alex Arizia, former friend and physical trainer for Manny. In addition, Pacquiao’s business advisor Mike Kontz has been hospitalized twice in China.
Rios has literally no pressure heading into the fight with Pac-Man. Rios isn’t expected to win, he is only expected to test Pacquiao. Rios is enjoying the biggest fight of his career on the biggest stage of his life. A victory against Pacquiao will spell the end of a legendary story and the birth of perhaps a new legacy.