This Saturday when the bell rings in Macau, China, Brandon Rios will be in for the fight of his life. Facing the always dynamic Manny Pacquiao, Rios will be forced to figure out a way to defeat the legendary fighter.
The real key to victory will be Rios' ability to absorb Pacquiao's power punches.
To everyone who thinks I'm an easy opponent for Pacquiao, a walking punching bag, this is my fight, I want it. I'm ready. I'm young. I'm not going to let it slide through my fingers.
Acknowledging that he's being looked at as nothing more than a "punching bag," Rios must embrace that punching bag philosophy if he wants to win this fight.
Over the course of his professional career, Rios has thrived on being able to take punishment in tight pockets. By standing in the pocket and absorbing blows, the 27-year-old fighter can counter with precision and controlled fury.
This unique ability offers the perfect formula to beating the power-punching Pacquiao.
When you watch Pacquiao on tape, you notice right away that he possesses incredible speed and a one-of-a-kind ability to deliver punishing combinations from every angle.
Although Pacquiao is clearly the more established fighter in this matchup, Rios still believes that he can defeat the former champion, regardless of his disadvantage in speed.
You can always defeat quickness. There's ways to counter it. When I fought Acosta I did counter his punches a lot, and I practiced a lot for that quickness. There's different ways to cut the ring off in a smarter way and be prepared for that.
A volume-puncher by trade, according to CompuBox, Rios threw around 80 punches a round in his October 2012 bout with Mike Alvarado.
That consistent volume of punches is a perfect way to bother a 35-year-old Pacquiao coming off a brutal knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
Being able to sustain Pacquiao's constant barrage of punches throughout the fight, Marquez was able to stand in the pocket and counter with a devastating right hand.
With a chin made of granite, Rios should be able to put himself in a similar position on Saturday.
Ultimately, if he has any chance at winning this fight, the question comes down to this: Which version of Manny Pacquiao will we see on Saturday? The dynamic, polished championship fighter or a shell of his former self?
Regardless, the game plan for Rios will have to remain the same. Absorb as much punishment as he possibly can and attack Pacquiao with as many punches as he can throw.
No matter who wins this weekend, Rios vs. Pacquiao is going to be one heck of a fight to watch.
*All stats courtesy of BoxRec.com unless noted otherwise.
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