Even though he’s set to take on a man many once proclaimed as boxing’s pound-for-pound king, Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) couldn’t be any more confident heading into his Nov. 23 bout against Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs).
Rios’ optimism isn’t that surprising considering the fact Pacquiao is no longer the feared fighter he once was. For Brandon, a win against Manny would easily help him, and a majority of the boxing community, forget the result of his last outing: a unanimous decision loss to Mike Alvarado — who he bested during their first fight. And it would also significantly improve Rios’ marketing power, meaning bigger fights and purses in the future.
Brandon will move up to the welterweight division (147 pounds) for the first time to face Pacquiao, but he doesn’t think that will hinder his performance in anyway. In fact, Rios thinks the move to the 147-pound division will make it easier for him to showcase his true abilities.
“I’m moving up in weight, so I don’t have to kill myself,” Rios said. “I’ll have better muscle tone and better everything. But you know what? I’m going to be ready. Pacquiao is no joke. I’m getting ready for the best Pacquiao ever. But like I’ve been telling everybody, it’s my time. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. I’ve been promised Pacquiao or [Juan Manuel] Marquez for the longest time. Now, I’ve got Pacquiao, and I’m going to take this opportunity to go out and to dominate in every way that I can to come out victorious.”
Pacquiao will be a 3-1 favorite heading into their Nov. 23 encounter at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China, and there’s a good reason for that. On paper, Pacquiao is clearly the better fighter as he hits harder, fights smarter, and is the faster athlete.
That doesn’t mean you should count Rios out.
Given Pacquiao’s devastating knockout loss to Marquez last December, and the gradual decline of his skills which has been going on for a few years, it’s extremely difficult to predict how much Manny has left in his tank.
It’s highly unlikely Pacquiao’s chin will ever be the same after the 2012 loss to Marquez, and that might just end up playing to Rios’ brawling style.