Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios: Would Win Restore Pac-Man to Superstar Status?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 08:  (R-L) Manny Pacquiao throws a left at Juan Manuel Marquez during their welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao has his mind back on his business.

He is getting back in the ring in late November with an eye toward regaining his past glory in the boxing ring. He will take on hard-punching Brandon Rios (31-1-1) in Macau, China (per Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports).

Pacquiao, a Filipino native, is a huge name throughout Asia. The fight will be the first available to Chinese viewers on pay-per-view.

While the venture has the potential to change the parameters of the way high-profile boxing matches are sold, it's all about regaining traction in his career for Pacquiao.

While there are no doubts about his popularity and charisma, Pacquiao has been tagged with losses in his last two fights.

The first was a split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley last June that most observers felt was a brutal outcome, but the second was a sixth-round knockout suffered at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez.

These last two losses make this fight pivotal for Pacquiao (54-5-2). While there is no three-strikes-and-you're-out rule in boxing, if Pac-Man were to lose a third straight fight at the age of 34, it might be pointless for him to continue with his boxing career.

However, if he were to take on the hard-charging Rios, 27, and knock him out or beat him decisively, that would elevate Pacquiao to a level where he would be ranked among the best fighters in the world once again.

Pacquiao almost certainly has designs on fighting Floyd Mayweather before either fighter hangs up his gloves for good

An impressive win over Rios could be enough to put him on track for that fight once again.

There are no guarantees that Pacquiao would get that fight, but a solid win would at least put him in the discussion for it once again.

Pacquiao was not completely off his game in either the Bradley fight or his fourth fight against Marquez. Bradley did very little offensively, and Pacquiao was the fighter who was dishing out most of the punishment.

Pacquiao also was faring quite well against Marquez until he got careless late in the sixth round. After suffering an early knockdown, Pacquiao had basically turned the fight around. He registered his own knockdown and was getting the best of Marquez in the sixth round as he delivered a series of hard punches.

Shortly before the end of the round, it was as if Pacquiao believed Marquez could no longer hurt him. That temporary loss of respect for his opponent caused Pacquiao to wade in and look for a knockout shot of his own.

Before he could throw that punch, he was in Marquez's wheelhouse. The Mexican fighter threw a perfect straight right hand that landed directly on Pacquiao's chin. He was knocked out before he hit the canvas.

Rios is an aggressive fighter who will come straight at Pacquiao. If Rios can avoid taking punishment, he could prove to be a very dangerous opponent. He has knocked out 23 fighters

Pacquiao has to show he can avoid absorbing big hits. His hand speed and aggressiveness have not been in question in his last two fights; his ability to avoid a big shot is now an issue after getting knocked out by the powerful Marquez.

Rios is a good fighter, but he has not proved to be a great one. He lost a decision to Mike Alvarado in March. Alvarado got revenge after suffering a technical knockout to Rios in December.

Rios should be available for Pacquiao to hit. Rios likes to stay in the pocket and is willing to eat a couple of shots in order to deliver one of his own.

Pacquiao has always been the same kind of fighter who is not afraid to mix it up with his opponent if it will allow him a chance to deliver hard and damaging punches of his own. His experience and skill set should give him a nice advantage in this fight.

But Pacquiao must show he can avoid Rios' hard punches. If he can, he should be able to punish a fighter who is not overly evasive.

A big win in this fight should put him back among the best fighters in the business and return him to superstar status.

Anything else could prove quite damaging.