After losing to Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2) Saturday night, the questions about what is next for Brandon Rios (31-2-1) have begun to circulate and speculation about possible contenders in a redemption fight is running rampant.
The next bout is the most important in Rios’ career.
The talented American fighter was not supposed to beat Pacquiao this weekend, and the fact that he even lasted all 12 rounds in the unanimous decision loss is a testament to how tough he really is. At just 27 years old, the defeat could yield the experience needed to become a serious prize fighter.
Now that the casual fans have Rios’ name fresh in their minds, he and his promoters must book the biggest possible bout to capitalize on the momentum and mainstream notoriety.
There are three fighters that could fill that role: Mike Alvarado, Juan Manuel Marquez and Robert Guerrero.
Alvarado (34-2) is the first name that comes to mind, as he was the only man to ever defeat Rios prior to the Pac-Man fight. Rios won via a seventh-round TKO in the first matchup between these two fighters, but Alvarado avenged that loss with a unanimous decision win in March.
Rios passed on the rematch to accept a fight with Pacquiao, but a third chapter in the Alvarado battle to answer any doubts would make this a smart fight. Alvarado is coming off a loss to Ruslan Provodnikov and will be looking for redemption as well.
Provodnikov himself could also be an option for Rios if the other proposed bouts fall through.
The potential fight with Alvarado would be intriguing, but it lacks the name power that a battle with Marquez (55-7-1) would. JMM has been in plenty of marquee pay-per-view fights and would instantly add credibility to Rios' resume if he were able to beat him.
Marquez has expressed his desire to fight Timothy Bradley in his next bout, and he claimed he would retire if that didn’t come to fruition, per Boxing Scene. If Bradley and Pac-Man agree to a potential rematch of their own, JMM will have to retire or agree to fight a different opponent. With Rios coming off a loss to the man Marquez last beat, this could be the marquee matchup both men need.
Which potential opponent is Rios' best option?
Just as Rios is looking to capitalize on the hype around his name after such a marquee fight, Guerrero is in the same position following his title bout with legend Floyd Mayweather. Both men are coming off losses to two of the biggest stars in the business, and an interesting option for Rios would be challenging Guerrero and turning his attention to a possible fight with Mayweather in the future.
Rios would have to dominate Guerrero in a more lop-sided fashion that Mayweather did—as well as likely avenge his loss to Alvarado with a third fight—but with two big wins, Rios could conceivably be a future contender for Money.
While Rios’ loss on Saturday night was a step back in his career, it could help him make two steps forward depending on which fighter he and his camp books as his next challenger.