Manny Pacquiao will prove that he is still elite when he takes on Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China.
Although Pacquiao (54-5-2) has been one of the world's best boxers, his recent bouts have have been concerning.
The veteran had a rough 2012. He lost to Timothy Bradley in a controversial split decision last May, and he followed that up by getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao and Marquez had always battled hard, but Marquez won via knockout in the sixth round last December.
Now Pac-Man has to prove that he is still elite.
By the time he steps in the ring, it will have been more than two years since his last victory. He hasn't had a unanimous decision since May of 2011.
However, the 34-year-old will be ready to take on Rios (31-1-1). The 27-year-old challenger also lost his last bout against Mike Alvarado, but his was by unanimous decision rather than a knockout.
Pacquiao will be going up against a less experienced fighter, which works to his advantage.
If Rios can make this a back-and-forth fight, he will have a chance. Don't expect Pacquiao to do that. He tried to do that against Marquez, and that didn't work out too well. Pac-Man will slow things down to set the tone.
According to ESPN.com, Pacquiao wants to get back to fighting the way he was a few years ago.
The experienced fighter was dominant when he focused on using his speed and great footwork. It will be important for him to get back to that strategy against an aggressive Rios.
Pacquiao has 38 knockouts to his credit. His old form allowed him to catch opponents in a vulnerable position. He used to feast on knockouts in the early stages of his career, but now he is so technically sound that he can outlast his opponents.
He has had 11 month since he last got in the ring, so he should be more than prepared to silence his doubters. A decisive victory would be exactly what the Filipino star needs. It would show that he can still be the dominant fighter that he once was.
Two straight losses by Pacquiao have taken some of the hype away from this fight. The hype has been replaced by curiosity, as everyone wants to know if Pacquiao can rebound and knock off a tough competitor.
Fortunately for him, the time off has given him time to regroup. Pac-Man will stick to his plan and get back to his old form. His footwork will be tough for the younger fighter to handle, which will allow Pacquiao to come out on top.
An early knockout would be great for Pacquiao, but he can still prove that he is elite by coming out with a decisive victory. This showdown will be a turning point for Pacquiao as he will show that he is still one of the best boxers in the world.
*All information is via BoxRec.com.
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