Earlier this month, it was announced that Manny Pacquiao's next opponent would be Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios—not the fighter most expected, but an understandable selection nonetheless.
Rios is 31-1-1 in his professional career and is coming off his first loss, a rematch against Mike Alvarado in Las Vegas. He's vowed, according to Tempo.com, that he's "hellbent on sending Pacquiao to retirement."
In a word...well...no. No, he will not beat Manny Pacquiao; no, he will not make a Hall of Famer retire; and no, he won't even prove to be much of a competition for Pac-Man come November.
Even after two straight losses, one of our generation's greatest fighters will prove way too much for a fledgling boxer nicknamed after a prehistoric infant.
Here are three reasons why.
According to Tempo.com, Brandon Rios has undertaken "the mother of all training camps" in preparation for this fight. But Manny has something more than his immaculate physical condition aiding his arrangements.
He has a mental edge.
Pacquiao has never been caught off guard, per se, in his entire career. Every fight he lost, he lost because his opponent was superior or had a better game plan. So it's not like he ever would have overlooked his fight with Rios and come out flat.
But given the context surrounding this fight, Rios is sure to see Manny's absolute A-game.
Pac-Man hasn't won a fight since 2011, dropping his last two bouts to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez. The enduring image of his last trip to the ring was a state of unconsciousness (see image above), a genuine dread that he would never wake up from the canvas.
Moreover, his cocksure rival, Floyd Mayweather, returned from absence recently without a modicum of rust, toying with Robert Guerrero for a full 12 rounds.
Manny wants to hush back-room rumors of his demise and quiet the faction that's calling for him to retire from his craft. This may not be a title fight, but for Manny's eternal legacy, something more important than a belt is at stake.
Pacquiao could come to the gym ready to play the Utah Jazz, and still, probably, come out on top against Rios. But given all that's going on, he's going to instead show up ready to play the Miami Heat.
And that doesn't bode well for anybody.
At first, Rios was a curveball choice for Pacquiao's next fight. Aesthetically, however, the more it was considered, he appeared to be the perfect fighter.
Rios is a straight-line puncher who loves to attack; that kind of high-volume punching is sure to draw a nice number and is a great boon for fans.
It just might not be so great for Rios.
A mere 27 years old, Bam Bam doesn't have the experience to protect himself against a savvy fighter like Pacquiao. Manny's taken some irreparable hits over his long career, but his experience has indoctrinated him with patience and poise.
Rios will be overzealous to exploit his youthful advantage over Manny, throwing punches left and right at the creaky vet. That might be playing right into his opponent's game plan, though, leaving him open to a vicious counter—and that's something Manny has never been shy to throw.
Pacquiao is unlikely to bat an eyelash at the stage and spectacle surrounding this fight. Yes, they'll be fighting at a massive Chinese arena, and sure, they'll be headlining an HBO pay-per-view.
Yet Pacquiao has been there, done that and has had wild amounts of success.
Rios won't be quite so acclimated to the jitters. Lest we forget that he, too, is coming off a loss in his last fight—a rematch with Mike Alvarado that was probably the biggest bout of his career.
And not that Rios fought poorly that evening at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (he lost by a close unanimous decision), but he certainly didn't suggest he could handle a better fighter on an even bigger stage.
Rios' nerves could manifest in a number of toxic ways. Most likely, they tie into the subhead listed above; they'll make him eager to throw big punches, leaving himself open to a counter.
And once again, just to be thorough: That's probably the biggest mistake he can make.
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