Pacquiao vs. Rios: Pac-Man Will Return to Winning Ways with KO

Richard LangfordCorrespondent INovember 18, 2013

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 08:  Manny Pacquiao (L) and  Brandon Rios pose at a press conference previewing their upcoming match at Beverly Hills Hotel on August 8, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) may have come out on the losing end of two straight bouts, but this is still a dangerous man.

In case anyone doubts this, Brandon Rios (31-1-1) laying on the canvas for a 10 count in Macau on Nov. 23 should remind everyone of Pacquiao's power.

The doubts are understandable. 

Pacquiao hasn't won a fight since beating Juan Manuel Marquez in a controversial decision near the end of 2011. Since then, he's lost to Timothy Bradley and then Manuel Marquez. 

While these outcomes drive home the point that Pacquiao is not the seemingly unbeatable force he was while rattling off 15 straight wins from 2005 to his loss to Bradley in 2012, they have to be looked at a little more closely than the result to be understood. 

Many people who watched Bradley win a split decision, myself included, felt Pacquiao was robbed after dominating most of the bout. 

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 09:  Manny Pacquiao salutes the crowd after his fight against Timothy Bradley at MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

There was doubting the outcome against Marquez too. A knockout for the ages made that point moot. 

However, it is easy to forget that Pacquiao was having a good fight until that brutal counterpunch. 

Pacquiao and Marquez have been closely matched all four times they've met. Until he left his face open to JMM's right, Pacquiao was enjoying as much success against Manuel Marquez as he ever had. 

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that the 34-year-old Pacquiao is still in his prime, but I will say he is not all that far away from it—which is important to remember when evaluating this upcoming fight with "Bam Bam" Rios. 

Of Rios' 31 wins, 23 have come via knockout. He is a high-volume puncher and often doesn't leave a lot of room for counterpunches. 

This is going to play right into Pacquiao's fists. A big part of the reason why the Pacquiao-Manuel Marquez matchups have been so fantastic is because JMM is such an accomplished counterpuncher. 

Pacquiao is an aggressive fighter and fierce brawler. Seeing Rios on the attack is not going to send him cowering in the corner trying to cover up. 

Over the course of his career, Pacquiao has faced a laundry list of top fighters—many of whom were aggressive fighters with power. These are the fights where Pacquiao is typically at his best. He has a strong chin and excellent power with both hands. 

I expect Pacquiao to come out in good form as he tries to get his career back on track. That statement is backed with confidence inspired by Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, who told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he has been impressed with Pacquiao's training.

GENERAL SANTOS, PHILIPPINES - OCTOBER 09:  Manny Pacquiao takes part in a training session on October 9, 2013 in General Santos, Philippines. Pacquiao will fight against Brandon Rios on November 23rd.  (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)
Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images

Pacquiao will get his career back on track by knocking out Rios in the fifth round.