Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao and Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios will face off on November 23, but the implications of this bout stretch far beyond the immediate future for Pacquiao.
Rios is not a fantastic fighter—though he's quite good, don't get me wrong. But a win could give Pacquiao a shot at a career-defining fight. Making quick work of Rios would mean that Pac-Man would finally have the chance at the foe who he's been connected to for nearly his entire career—Floyd "Money" Mayweather.
Promoter Bob Arum gave an interview with Australia's 1116 SEN Radio regarding the potential bout (via Boxing Scene), and he didn't discount the chance of it happening. Actually, he hinted that the megafight could be in the works.
"If Manny demonstrates that he's back and there's a public outcry, we should be able to get it done," Arum said.
There has been talk of this fight for years, so "public outcry" appears to already be fulfilled. Now it's time for Pac-Man to prove himself.
Pac-Man has a fine training regimen that keeps him in tip-top shape for his fights, but he'll need to crank it up yet another notch for his bout against Rios. Ensuring a decisive victory against a much younger opponent will help him to show the boxing world that he's still in the shape necessary to take on the sport's best.
Pacquiao certainly has the talent to defeat Rios, but Bam Bam won't go down easily. Rios boasts a quick jab that helps him to fight exceptionally well on the inside, and his bulldog mentality will help to exploit any weaknesses that Pacquiao might show if in a bind.
Countering Rios' strengths on the inside will be paramount to success for Pacquiao. He'll need to be able to get out of sticky situations and use his flurry of jabs and quick feet to get back in control of the fight.
Winning is obviously the goal for any fighter, but a win for Pacquiao means so much more. The Mayweather-Pacquiao discussion has been going on for years now, but the possibility of a fight is now more real than ever.
This win would help Pacquiao to define his career. No matter how much more he accomplishes, fans and analysts of the sport will be forced to wonder "what if" in regards to the fight that never happened against Mayweather.
A convincing, knockout victory over Rios would make the fight a possibility if Arum is indeed true to his word, and that fight would easily be one of the biggest fights in recent history—possibly the biggest since the 2002 Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson match.
Should Pacquiao handle Rios with ease, then Mayweather would be wise to pick up the fight if he hasn't already booked another one. There have been rumors of a potential bout against Amir Khan in the future. Boxing Scene opines that Khan could be training for a potential fight against Mayweather, and the video they posted suggests that Khan is training rather vigorously.
Regardless, nothing is set in stone just yet. For Mayweather, a fight against Pacquiao would be surely more enticing than a fight against Khan.
Pacquiao needs to defeat Rios. If he doesn't, then his career and legacy will always be considered incomplete. This fight against Rios is simply a stepping stone to the ultimate fight of his career—a fight he's been seemingly preparing for since the idea first surfaced.