When Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) goes face-to-face with Brandon Rios (31-1-1) on November 23 at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China, the veteran fighter must win in order to keep the possible superfight with Floyd Mayweather alive.
It is too dangerous for Pacquiao to look ahead, but he must ensure that he beats the less experienced Rios and leaves the door open for the biggest potential fight of his career.
While Pacquiao vs. Mayweather wouldn’t have the same aura it had three years ago when both were dominating the sport, there are still plenty of boxing fans that would turn out to see Manny try his hand at taking down the undefeated Money.
Despite the lack of hope that this fight would ever come to fruition because of Pacquiao’s two losses (including a devastating knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez) and each man working for different companies (Manny for HBO and Money for Showtime), promoter Bob Arum has reignited the speculation and rumors surrounding the possible megafight.
According to Ronnie Nathanielsz of Boxing Scene, Arum spoke with the Evenings with Mark Fine show in Australia and stated frankly that there is a very real possibility that this blockbuster bout could happen sooner rather than later.
If Arum is speaking truthfully and scheduling a fight for the second half of 2014 between Pac-Man and Mayweather is a possibility, the urgency of Manny winning against Rios has gone through the roof.
Not only does Pacquiao have to earn the decisive win (a decision victory doesn’t prove he belongs in the same ring as Mayweather right now), but it also must come in the most definitive way possible; Pac-Man has to knock Rios out.
If Pacquiao could prove without a shadow of a doubt that he is still an elite fighter by dominating Rios and avenging his losses to Bradley and Marquez, the boxing community will once again support the possibility of a superfight.
Droves of fans came out to watch Canelo Alvarez square off against Money and get beat, and there is little doubt that Pac-Man is a better all-around fighter than the young Mexican. As long as Pacquiao ends his fight with Rios on a positive note, fans would pay to see the high-profile matchup.
Pacquiao can’t look past Rios, but instead must use the motivation of having the superfight talk brought back from the dead to fuel his fire in November’s main event.