As Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) begins preparations for his fight against Brandon Rios (31-1-1) on November 23 at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China, the polarizing boxing star can’t afford to look past his opponent.
Pacquiao is coming off back-to-back losses—a knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez and decision against Timothy Bradley—and while Rios is not on the same level as his opponent, Pac-Man has to take this fight seriously and attack the matchup like he is squaring off against one of the top fighters in the sport.
While Pacquiao knows he is the far better competitor in this matchup and will want to start looking forward to who he would fight if he were to beat Rios, it is that kind of mindset that will get the boxing star knocked out once again.
Rios saw how Marquez did his damage to Pac-Man and is looking to copy the game plan, telling Jenna J of On the Ropes Radio and Doghouse Boxing about the fight in November and what it would do for the 27-year-old fighter:
Oh no man, a win over him would put me on top of the world, it would get me out there with the big, big names and everything. I'm already out there. I've just got to keep winning and keep winning is how I got there. I've made it up the ladder to face somebody like that so I'm happy. Manny Pacquiao's still a veteran, he knows what to do, it's not like he's old or new at this, he knows what to do, so like I said this is my time now.
Rios is coming off a tough decision-loss to Mike Alvarado, and with his back against the wall, the American star will attack Pacquiao with everything he has. Not only is Rios fighting for redemption, but he’s also fighting for the chance to become a bona fide superstar.
Pac-Man is 34 years old and has done almost everything there is in the sport of boxing, sans the rumored superfight with Floyd Mayweather. The problem for a star the magnitude of Pacquiao is that he can become complacent and not take his potential fights as seriously as he should, especially against a fighter like Rios who he should beat every time.
Rios has the speed and lateral quickness to give Pac-Man trouble landing his big punches, but it’s the younger star’s toughness that will prove most frustrating to Pacquiao in November.
As the boxing world saw in Pacquiao’s knockout loss to Marquez, the star can get too excited and leave himself open for big counterpunches. The bad news for Pac-Man is that Rios is a great counterpuncher, too.
If Pacquiao doesn’t focus solely on Rios and the November fight, there is a serious chance he loses the bout and is forced to retire from the sport altogether.
That’s an ending no fan of the sport wants to see.