For more than six years, Manny Pacquiao was boxing's biggest attraction in betting.
The former multi-division champion and No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter appears to have entered the twilight of his career. As a result, he is now a bigger betting risk against the best fighters in the welterweight division.
Following two straight losses—including a brutal KO beatdown at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez last December—Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) is coming at a comparatively cheap price for November 23 when he faces Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs).
Action on Pacquiao has traditionally been an expensive option, but he is currently coming with a minus-450 price at most sportsbooks (wager $45 to profit $10) to beat Rios for the vacant WBO International Welterweight Championship.
Many experts feel that Rios has been hand-picked to get Pacquiao back to his winning ways and that Rios’ fighting style will play right into the Filipino's effective counterpunching technique.
Despite looking like a perfect style matchup for Pacquiao, Rios is an effective puncher who brings heavy pressure and lots of power. If Pacquiao can no longer compete with the top fighters in the world, an upset KO victory for Rios is a possibility.
With a current plus-325 payday, according to the boxing odds menu at OddsShark.com, the Rios option could be the best way to go on Saturday.
With both fighters having a deep record of KO wins, this fight is not expected to go the distance. Over/under options for Pacquiao vs. Rios are set at 9.5 rounds, with the over option coming with a plus-125 payday and the under costing minus-175.
The gamble will be on whether or not you believe that Pacquiao can still compete at a high level. Did the typhoon disaster in his home country deflate him or energize him so close to the fight?
If he returns to form, Pacquiao should be too powerful and technical for Rios to handle. But if his chin fails him again, the 34-year-old former champ could be making his final appearance in the ring against notable competition.
Prediction: Pacquiao by decision