For the first time in his professional boxing career, Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs), will head into a fight with two consecutive losses on his record when he squares up against Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) on Nov. 23, at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China.
While some in the boxing community feel Pacquiao’s decision to forgo opportunities against Juan Manuel Marquez, who brutally knocked him out last December, and Timothy Bradley, who enjoyed a controversial decision against Pacquiao prior to that, for a bout against Rios was a smart move; that might not necessarily be the case.
Rios is a proven puncher, and it’s impossible to tell if Pacquiao is fully recovered from the devastating knockout he suffered at the hands of Marquez.
Still, Pacquiao thinks Rios is the perfect matchup for him at this point his boxing career.
“It’s going to be a good fight because Rios loves to fight toe-to-toe,” Pacquiao said during a recent press conference. “He loves action in the ring, so what we have to do is to train hard and prepare a hundred percent, physically and mentally. And of course we always pray to God that nobody gets hurt.”
While Pacquiao’s camp is confident their decision to pick Rios as the former WBO welterweight champion’s next opponent was the right move, “Bam Bam” disagrees. Brandon is certain Manny is ripe for another loss, and he plans to make the most out of the rare opportunity to add a win against one of boxing’s most recognized stars to his resume.
“I’ll be ready. I’ll be in 100 percent ready; mentally and physically,” Rios said. “On November 23, you’ll see a new superstar rise and that’s going to be me. I’m going to show the world and everybody who doubts me, everybody who talks bad about me, who say I’m a punching bag. They are going to find out something different.”
Rios might not be the toughest test available for Pacquiao right now, but the two fighters clearly matchup well. If Pacquiao bring his A-game come fight time, he should be able to dominate Rios much like he did Ricky Hatton in 2009, that is, if he doesn’t collapse on the canvas the first time Rios hits him with something big.