Brandon Rios has everything to gain and nothing to lose in his Saturday, Nov. 23 bout with Manny Pacquiao.
Regardless of the result of this fight, Rios has next to nothing to lose with plenty of fights ahead of him for his career, which is a stark contrast to Pac-Man.
Rios comes into the contest with a sensational 31-1-1 record and has already established himself as one of the better fighters in the sport today. On the flip side, his opponent, Pacquiao, could be in the ring for the final time in his career should he have a bad showing and/or lose to Rios.
"Bam Bam" will be a heavy underdog in this fight as many expect Pac-Man to recover from two consecutive losses and regain the form that has made him an elite fighter throughout his career. In fact, Rios is viewed as a stepping stone in many circles for Pacquiao's comeback, which will take a load of pressure off the younger fighter.
If the 27-year-old loses, boxing fans will chalk it up to what was an inevitable return to respectability and dominance for Pacquiao—the kind of dominance we've come to expect from the 34-year-old.
Rios will have lost to a legend and such a result would have been a foregone conclusion under normal circumstances. Considering these aren't normal circumstances with Pacquiao coming into the fight after two straight losses, at the very least people can argue Pac-Man was due and Rios was the unfortunate victim of his return.
Should Rios win, the victory would do wonders for Rios' career.
Not only would the win make Rios a household name, but Bam Bam would etch himself into history as the man who ended Pacquiao's legendary career.
If he can stop Pacquiao early, that would only boost such a distinction and create the argument that Rios is anything but a stepping stone and possibly a top fighter instead. Not to mention, such a performance on a big stage could garner more pay-per-view love down the road for Rios as a headliner.
Say what you want about the current state of Pacquiao's career and how he may have been on the decline before he even took the fight with Rios, but nobody can deny that adding such a win would add a ton of credibility to Rios and his resume no matter what.
On top of that, beating one of the greatest fighters in boxing history would earn Rios the kind of respect that is deserving of a title shot down the road. That may not have been possible against an opponent of lesser note than Pac-Man, and that's especially true with Rios coming off a loss in his last fight to Mike Alvarado.
Rios is clearly playing with house money on Saturday night. He'll either be added onto the list of many forgettable fighters to succumb to Pacquiao's elite skills, or he'll create his own legend that will keep him in the collective conscious of the sport's fans for years to come.
Not a bad scenario for a stepping stone, eh?