Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Both Fighters

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2013

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Both Fighters

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    Manny Pacquiao hoped his return to the ring in November would be against the man who knocked him unconscious last December in Las Vegas.  But when Juan Manuel Marquez spurned the Pac-Man's request for a rematch this left him with few viable options.

    In recent weeks speculation centered on both Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado who recently engaged in a two-fight series in which each man won once.  Rios knocked Alvarado out in the seventh round of their first bout last October. Alvarado evened the score with a narrow unanimous decision in March.

    According to reports it'll be Rios (31-1-1, 23 KO) who has secured the fight and the opportunity to make a huge name for himself by defeating the Filipino icon. "Bam-Bam" is an exciting action fighter who can punch and is willing to trade with his opponent to land his punches. That provides some drama given the way Pacquiao lost his last fight. 

    The fight is obviously full of danger for the now 34-year-old former welterweight champion. Read on for a complete breakdown of the big fight. 

Fight Info

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    Main Event: Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO) vs. Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KO). 12 Rounds, Welterweights.

    Undercard: TBD

    Where: Macau Venetian Resort, Macau, China

    When: November 23, 2013

    TV: HBO Pay-Per-View

Boxing Ability

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    Pacquiao: Manny Pacquiao in his heyday was an absolute buzzsaw in the ring. He would attack, attack, attack and most fighters struggled to even remain in the fight, much less mount an offensive attack of their own. The most dangerous thing for an opponent to do is allow Pacquiao to get into his this type of groove.

    When he does you'll see quick, short punches from all angles that can land from virtually anywhere in the ring. This was the type of action that was missing in all his fights leading up to the fateful fourth bout with Marquez in December.

    At the time of the stoppage it appeared he was beginning to settle into just that type of rhythm, which led many to conclude he still had it in him. But his plans were cut frighteningly short by a massive right-hand counter that ended his night.

    Rios: Brandon Rios is one of those guys who just loves to fight. He's not at all shy about eating a few solid punches from his opponent in order to get his own shots off. His activity level is one of his greatest strengths.

    There is very little about Brandon Rios that screams boxer. This guy is a straight-up slugger and loves to brawl. He has good pop in his punches and can make for a very exciting fight against virtually anyone besides Richard Abril.

    He has the ability to test Pacquiao's chin early and often. And that will make for a compelling pay-per-view contest.

    Advantage: Manny Pacquiao, despite two knockdowns against Marquez, is still the better boxer until proven otherwise. But that comes with a pretty big caveat. If the "old Manny" shows up, he will absolutely be able to match Rios shot for shot and should have enough to overcome his younger foe.

    If the Pacquiao who fought Bradley shows up, he could get outworked by Rios who throws a ton of shots in virtually every round. It could even put him in danger of getting caught and stopped.

Power

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    Pacquiao: At a first glance, it may appear that Manny Pacquiao has the advantage in power coming into this fight. He has scored a knockout in 38 of his 54 career victories and has stopped guys such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.

    But Pacquiao hasn't shown a tremendous amount of power in recent years as he has been more content to see his opponents cross the finish line in the 12th round. The Pac-Man has not stopped a fighter inside the distance in what will be well over four years by the time he steps in the ring with Brandon Rios.

    The last man to see his night end early at Pacquiao's hands was Ricky Hatton, who was blasted out in the second round in one of Manny's career-best performances.

    Rios: Brandon Rios on the other hand has stopped 23 foes inside the distance thus far in a career that has 31 victories. This might also appear more impressive than it would without delving deeper into the numbers.

    Rios most impressive victory to date was his seventh-round TKO of Mike Alvarado last October in the 2012 fight of the year. But he hasn't faced anyone else of the caliber that he'll be seeing on a Saturday night in November.

    Advantage: Tough call here. Historically Pacquiao has not had trouble stopping world-class opposition inside the distance. But it's been four years since he last accomplished the feat. He's older now, a step slower and seemingly less threatening than he was in his peak.

    Brandon Rios is younger and definitely fresher, but he will be making his first foray into the welterweight division. He's spent much of his career at 140 pounds and below, so it'll be interesting to see how he carries the added weight and if his power will transfer.

    We're gonna guess he'll carry it well and will enter the ring with a slight power advantage over Manny Pacquiao come fight night.

Defense

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    Pacquiao: For much of his career, Manny Pacquiao has subscribed to the old adage that the best defense is a good offense. And up until recently that served him just fine.

    The Filipino icon's defense has largely been built upon the idea that if you're too worried about what you'll catch if you let your hands go, you won't let your hands go. Pacquiao rarely gave his opponents an opportunity to think about what they were going to throw at him because they were too busy trying to duck, dodge and roll the punches coming from all angles.

    As his offense has slowed down in recent fights, he's become easier to hit. But easier is not the same thing as easy.

    Rios: Brandon Rios on the other hand subscribes to the notion that the best defense is trying to hit the other guy before he hits you.

    Putting it simply, as a slugger Rios has no problem getting tagged, at will if necessary, in order to land his own power shots. That was why his first bout with Mike Alvarado was so compelling.

    And the kid has a good set of whiskers and a ton of heart to back it up. Just don't expect him to engage in a tactical war. Bernard Hopkins he is not.

    Advantage: Gonna say Pacquiao here and not necessarily because of what he does but what Rios doesn't do. At this stage in his career, Manny needs to be more conscious of getting hit and he will focus on that more than Rios. That kid just doesn't care if you punch him in the mouth as long as he gets you back.

Game Plan

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    Pacquiao: Manny Pacquiao will definitely want to be aggressive but cautiously aggressive. If we learned anything from the Marquez fight, it's that he can be hurt and dropped with clean, hard punches. Now that's not at all to say that any old fighter can accomplish the feat, but that he should keep it in mind.

    Look for him to try and swarm Rios early on in the fight and make an impression that he's back at top of his game and he's suffered no lingering affects from the knockout. Swarming is what made Manny Pacquiao great and propelled him near the top of the pound-for-pound ranks.

    And it's something he'll need to find again—and be effective with—to beat Brandon Rios.

    Rios: Brandon Rios is afraid of nobody and will not be intimidated or caught off guard by Pacquiao's style. He's going to come forward all night long and attempt to seize the mantle of aggressor from his opponent.

    Rios likes to throw punches in bunches and all of them have the meanest intentions. He won't take a round off or be bothered if his opponent is able to land on him. That's part of his mental toughness and makes him a very dangerous fighter for Manny at this stage.

    Advantage: At this point in their respective careers, Brandon Rios knows who he is as a fighter. Does Manny Pacquiao?

    Rios is a straight-ahead attack dog and that has led him to 31 wins in 32 career fights. He gets the edge here.

    We simply don't know what we'll get from Manny Pacquiao at this point or whether he'll ever again be able to harness the skills that made him great.

Early Prediction

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    This just screams of danger for Manny Pacquiao.

    Brandon Rios is young, physically and mentally strong, tough and out to prove something to the world. He is coming off a loss that he hotly disputes and feels as if he can beat anyone in the world if given the chance.

    Manny Pacquiao is now 34 years old and hasn't appeared to be much more than a shadow of the fighter who took boxing by storm in some years now. The frustration of a controversial loss to Bradley and a devastating knockout against his bitter rival Marquez must have had some impact on him.

    Fighters get knocked out all the time, but the severity of that punch makes you wonder if Pacquiao will ever be the same. That's not a knock on him but just a legitimate concern given the circumstances.

    The desire to stage a fight outside of the United States, reported in the past to be for tax reasons, makes you wonder whether he is still fighting for glory or just money.

    We know the answer to that question for Brandon Rios.

    Thinking outside the box—and granted this is still at a very early stage—go with Brandon Rios to defeat Manny Pacquiao by TKO in the late rounds on a November Saturday in China.