Manny Pacquiao Must Step Up Defensive Effort Against Brandon Rios

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2013

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 08:  (L-R) Juan Manuel Marquez throws a left to the face of Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

When two aggressors step into the ring, carnage typically ensues. For Manny Pacquiao to make his highly anticipated return a success, he must put up the gloves every now and then against Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios.

Pacquiao has remained in the shadows since suffering a devastating knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8, 2012, but he will finally take the grand stage once again on Saturday night to clash with Rios in Macau, China. 

Now that he's back, Pac-Man can't afford to duplicate the same mistakes that have jeopardized the veteran's future.

There's no questioning Pacquiao's quickness and strength in the squared circle. Even at age 40, he'd probably land a few powerful punches, but he'll never last that long with the way he competes. Pacquiao's tenacity is admirable, but at this juncture of his career, it'd serve him well to turn the dial down a notch and protect himself more.

Before Marquez sent him to the mat, Pacquiao was actually winning the bout. According to CompuBox, he landed 94 punches to Marquez's 52 throughout the bout. He came out swinging during the first round, throwing 56 punches toward an overwhelmed Marquez.

But Pacquiao later wore down and his opponent pounced with 23 landed punches in the final two rounds, including a fight-ending KO to send the audience home early after six rounds. 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 08:  Manny Pacquiao lays face down on the mat after being knocked out in the sixth round as Juan Manuel Marquez celebrates during their welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Ph
Al Bello/Getty Images

Rios also fights at full throttle, which is both a blessing and a curse for the 34-year-old Pacquiao.

On the positive side, an eager Rios will bring the fight to Pacquiao, who won't have to exert as much energy chasing down his younger foe. Pacquiao in his prime would undoubtedly squash Rios, but this is a Pacquiao coming off his first two-fight losing streak.

While he won't have to hunt down Rios, will Pacquiao elude him as easily? Pac-Man is not one to shy away from a punch if it means landing one of his own. Rios embraces the same mindset, so the two fighters will likely trade hooks until one of them crumbles.

Pacquiao hasn't won a fight in two years, but it's been an even longer three years since he obtained a victory by knockout. That streak could end this weekend, but it's not wise to put all his eggs in that basket.

Getting constantly punched by another person will take a toll on anyone. It seems like a fighter should want to avoid that as much as possible—especially Pacquiao, who is no longer a 24-year-old seamlessly gliding around the ring.

Pacquiao must adapt late in his career to muster a resurgent run that eliminates the burn of his previous defeats.

A little more defense would go a long way in his quest to prove that he's still one of the world's greatest boxers.