On Nov. 23, 2013, Manny Pacquiao will make his long-awaited return to the ring when he faces Brandon Rios in Macau, China. This fight will mark the first time Pacquiao takes the ring in more than 11 months.
If he hopes to stand any chance of winning in his return to boxing, he will need to drop his recent arrogance.
There's no question that he is a legend, but at this stage of his career, he also appears to be in denial. He has lost consecutive fights and used an early advantage in the prior match against Juan Manuel Marquez to overcome a dreadful closing performance.
To this day, many debate whether or not he deserved to defeat Marquez in 2011. In the fights since, Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley and was knocked out cold by Marquez in a rematch.
According to Mitch Abrahamson of BoxingScene.com, Pacquiao described his recent knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez as a "lucky punch."
I'm more motivated now to prove that I can still box and to prove something. It's a lucky punch [by Marquez], but it's still part of boxing, part of the game. I'm excited to get back to the ring.
Before we move forward, let's touch on that gem.
Pacquiao was knocked out clean and fair, being defeated by an opponent who took him to the brink in years past. This time around, Marquez was prepared for the subtleties of Pacquiao's game, anticipating his punches and countering with precision.
Luck is just a word used by those too arrogant to believe they're human.
I'm a firm believer in the saying, "If you don't believe you're the best at what you're doing, you shouldn't be doing it." In a sport like boxing, that's never more evident, as you stand no chance of defeating your opponents if you view them as superior.
With that being said, understanding your weaknesses is just as important as believing in your strengths.
What these comments display is a superstar who struggles to believe that age is finally catching up with him. No one in their right mind should question Pacquiao's greatness, but the only way for him to win at this point is to adapt.
Something Pacquiao seems reluctant to do.
According to Miguel Rivera of BoxingScene.com, Pacquiao claims that he will go toe-to-toe with Rios in what should be a high-octane fight. In earlier years, that wouldn't have been much of an issue, as Pacquiao used to make a living in that manner.
Today, he is 34 years old, coming off two consecutive losses—including one knockout—and preparing for a fight against a younger and perhaps equally as powerful fighter.
Rios is a 27-year-old who once held the WBA Lightweight Championship and has achieved 23 of his 31 victories by knockout. More recently, 10 of his past 13 victories have come by knockout or TKO.
In other words, this young man can pack a punch.
Pacquiao is the superior fighter, as far as history can determine, but his weaknesses were exposed in his past three fights. Rios has more than enough film to watch and an abundance of power to throw Pacquiao's way.
Even still, Pacquiao seems more focused on proving he can still box than on winning the fight by changing his tactics. That mentality could cost him against Rios.
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