Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios: Everything You Need to Know for Epic Fight

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterNovember 18, 2013

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios: Everything You Need to Know for Epic Fight

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    Feng Li/Getty Images

    You'd think Brandon Rios would be the fighter with the most to prove Saturday in Macau, China. After all, it's the young slugger's first pay-per-view main event, his first time under the bright lights. Despite 33 career fights, this will be his debut on the world stage.

    His opponent?

    He's been headlining title fights for years, compiling a 16-3-2 record with a belt on the line, and has beaten some of the best fighters of his era, including Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez. Along the way, he's become one of boxing's most iconic stars and a hero to his countrymen in the Philippines.

    And yet, despite his legacy and Hall of Fame career, it's Manny Pacquiao facing all the tough questions going into the fight. The lasting image of the legend, one imprinted on the brains of boxing fans all over the world, is Pacquiao face down in the ring, courtesy of a Marquez right in the sixth round. 

    Can Pacquiao find his way back to greatness after the most memorable setback of his career?

    That's the question that will drive fans desperate for an answer toward this fight. Rios is a brawler, one seemingly made for Pacquiao to dispatch with relative ease, there to help Manny make a statement and score a highlight-reel-worthy knockout. It's a result his battered countrymen, at least, would be all too happy to see.

    Will Manny get back on track? Who do oddsmakers favor? Who will win? Where to watch?

    All those questions, and more, will be answered in the pages that follow. Disagree with my fight pick? Let me know in the comments.

The Fighters

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    Manny Pacquiao

    Age: 34

    Born: Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines

    Record: 54-5-2

    Pacquiao, a Filipino legend, remains one of boxing's most potent drawing cards and a superstar all over the globe. The eight-division world champion has done it all in the fight game, but he isn't quite ready to hang up the gloves. Instead, he's looking to come back strong from consecutive losses and go out on top.

    His first setback, against Timothy Bradley, wasn't a big concern for either the fighter or his legions of fans. He dropped a decision, but most observers felt he was the rightful victor. It's a blemish that can be chocked up to boxing just being boxing, unpredictable and exasperating.

    It's his most recent loss that has fans and pundits worried that Pacquiao is on his last legs. The enduring image from that fight, a brutal knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, was Pacquiao laying face down on the mat, completely out cold. It's this picture he will be fighting to erase from our collective memories.

     

    Brandon Rios

    Age: 27

    Born: Lubbock, Texas

    Record: 31-1-1

    For Pacquiao, a long established pay-per-view star, this is just another big fight. The eyes of the world have been on him before—and he knows how to handle the pressure and the bright lights that are surrounding both fighters in China.

    For Rios, however, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. This is what you fight for—the chance to beat one of the sport's biggest players for a big paycheck.

    Will Rios's career peak with Pacquiao? It's possible. But he made it this far; most fighters never even approach this pinnacle. A win will change his whole life. How he handles that could be a major factor in the outcome of this fight.

The Story

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    Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images

    With due respect to Rios, this fight isn't about him at all. He's the opponent here, the foil provided for the former champion to prove he's still got it. He's a fun action fighter, one I go out of my way to see fight. But against Pacquiao? If things go as promoters plan, he's in there to be a punching bag.

    Every pertinent issue involves Pacquiao:

    1. Does he still have it?
    2. Will his fans come out in legion, despite losses and the recent tragedy in his homeland?
    3. Is China going to be his personal Las Vegas, home to future boxing bouts?

    All of the above will weigh heavily on how we determine the success or failure of this promotion—but the first question remains the most important. Can Manny still fight? Everything else pales in comparison to this, the central question every fighter must always be prepared to answer.

Odds and Prediction

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds: Pacquiao (-600), Rios (+400)

    Here's the bottom line: In Rios's last fight, he lost a clear cut decision to Mike Alvarado. He, in turn, was outboxed by Ruslan Provodnikov, Manny's top sparring partner. 

    That should tell you all you need to know about how this fight should go. Pacquiao, at the top of his game, is in a different class than Rios, who was chosen for the fight mainly for his propensity to bring the action and slug it out. That should play perfectly toward Manny's strengths.

    Rios was brought in to lose and lose spectacularly. It doesn't make sense to expect anything else from him.

     

    Winner

    Pacquiao, knockout, Round 7.

     

    Note: Odds provided by bet365.com and correct as of 11/17/2013 at 5 p.m. ET; subject to change.

The Undercard

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Unlike the Floyd Mayweather vs. "Canelo" Alvarez spectacular earlier this year, the undercard here leaves a lot to be desired, at least to American fans. Chinese spectators, however, will have their eyes firmly on Zou Shiming. The two-time Olympic gold medalist is one of the keys to boxing's expansion in China.

     

    Televised Undercard

    Featherweight: Evgeny Gradovich (IBF Featherweight Champion) vs. Billy Dib

    Heavyweight: Andy Ruiz Jr vs. Tor Hamer 

    Flyweight: Zou Shiming vs. Juan Tozcano

    Junior lightweight: Felix Verdejo vs. Duanaaymukdahan Petchsamuthr 

Where to Watch

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    Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images

    Wednesday

    Final Press Conference

    8:30 a.m. ET  

    Available at www.TopRank.TV or www.InsideHBOBoxing.com 

     

    Thursday

    24/7 Pacquiao/Rios (Episode 3)

    10 p.m. ET on HBO

     

    Friday

    Official Weigh-In Live Stream

    6:30 p.m. ET.

    Available at www.TopRank.TV or www.InsideHBOBoxing.com 

     

    Saturday

    Non-Televised Fights

    7 p.m. ET

    Available at www.TopRank.TV or www.InsideHBOBoxing.com

    Pay-Per-View

    9 p.m. ET 

    HBO PPV ($59.99-69.99)