On November 23, 2013, Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring to fight rising star Brandon Rios. This will be Pacquiao's first fight since he was infamously knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez, marking his second consecutive defeat.
If Pacquiao is hoping to make the dream of a superfight with Floyd Mayweather a reality, he must dominate Rios.
Since his controversial victory over Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12, 2011, Pacquiao hasn't been the same. After Marquez took control in the later rounds and won on the fan's scorecards, it's as if Pacquiao's confidence was what lost.
With a controversial split decision defeat to Timothy Bradley and a stunning knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao has suddenly become human.
Even still, the pipe dream of a clash between Mayweather and Pacquiao remains alive in boxing fans. The two best pound-for-pound fighters of our generation—and a case could be made that there isn't a close third—have flirted with the idea for years.
The only way to make it happen is for Pacquiao to defeat Rios in the most dominant fashion imaginable.
Dream is Still Alive
Some have written a potential Mayweather versus Pacquiao fight off as something distant from reality. The fact of the matter is, Pacquiao still wants to the fight done.
As can be seen above, Pacquiao made bold statements about Mayweather, Marquez and his recent woes in a recent interview with ANC in the Philippines.
"For us, Mayweather is cocky, boastful," said Pacquiao. "I can prove to him I can still win. I lost to Marquez but it's just a lucky punch, just part of the game. I was not dominated. If he wants to fight, let's fight."
Mayweather isn't entirely opposed to the idea, either.
According to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, "Pretty Boy" Floyd claimed that he would fight Pacquiao if he signed with Mayweather Promotions. This may sound easy enough, but Pacquiao has a well-documented allegiance with Bob Arum.
Unfortunately for Pacquiao, Mayweather didn't get the nickname of "Money" for no reason.
If Pacquiao were to sign with Mayweather Promotions, there would likely be a greater sense of financial security. Furthermore, Pacquiao would likely be subject to random drug testing, thus accepting the most significant stipulation in Mayweather's requests.
With that being said, none of this has relevance if Pacquiao is unable to convincingly defeat Rios.
There are few in the world who will tell you that Timothy Bradley actually defeated Pacquiao during his controversial split decision win. With that being said, Pacquiao wasn't dominant during that fight, and many were thrown off by that fact.
He wasn't too impressive in his fight prior nor his battle after, either.
If Pacquiao wants to pressure Mayweather into fighting him, he'll need to prove that there is still some power to his punch. Winning by an unconvincing decision wouldn't do the trick here, as Pacquiao needs to be the fighter that garnered world fame.
He needs to dominate Rios with his class combination of power and finesse.
With a dominant victory over Rios, Pacquiao can make the claim that he is at the level necessary to compete with Mayweather. Should he suffer his third consecutive defeat or put on a lackluster performance in victory, that dream will be all but erased.
This may be the biggest fight of Pacquiao's illustrious career.