Boxing fans are clamoring for the huge fight between Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) and Brandon Rios (31-1-1) on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China, and much of the attention has shifted to the card that will support it.
As much as fans want to witness Pacquiao vs. Rios, the stacked undercard that features several marquee prospects and a championship match will help whip the raucous Chinese crowd into a frenzy.
All of the following information will help hardcore and casual boxing fans alike get ready for Saturday night’s exciting slate of fights.
Where: Venetian Macao Hotel, Macau, China
When: Saturday, Nov. 23, at 9 p.m. ET
Watch: HBO Pay-Per-View
Live Stream: HBO Go
|Full Pacquiao vs. Rios Fight Card|
|Matchup||Rounds||Weight Class||Predicted Winner|
|Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios||12||Welterweight||Manny Pacquiao|
|Evgeny Gradovich (c) vs. Billy Dib||12||Featherweight||Billy Dib|
|Andy Ruiz vs. Tor Hamer||10||Heavyweight||Andy Ruiz|
|Felix Verdejo vs. TBA||6||Lightweight||Felix Verdejo|
|Ik Yang vs. Hero Tito||8||Junior Welterweight||Hero Tito|
|Zou Shiming vs. Juan Toscano||6||Flyweight||Zou Shiming|
|Kouk Kun Ng vs. You-Jie Zeng||4||Junior Middleweight||You-Jie Zeng|
|ESPN's Dan Rafael|
Breaking Down Saturday’s Most Underrated Fight
While Pacquiao vs. Rios has stolen all the headlines leading into this show, the most underrated fight of the night will be the co-main event bout for the IBF Featherweight Championship between defending champ Evgeny Gradovich (17-0, 8 KOs) and former titleholder Billy Dib (36-2, 21 KOs).
This will be a rematch for Gradovich and Dib. After accepting the first bout in March on short notice, Gradovich stunned Dib via split decision to win the title. Dib passed on his rematch clause, and each fighter took interim bouts before the second bout was finally booked.
The Australian challenger told Dan Rafael of ESPN about his thoughts on Gradovich and his prediction for how this fight will turn out:
I'm extremely excited that the rematch has been made. Our first battle was a good one. I feel I have developed into a more fan friendly fighter. Gradovich is a good fighter and I expect another all-out war with him. I look forward to recapturing the IBF championship and setting up a trilogy with Gradovich.The fact that the fight is on such a big stage is so exciting. Finally I feel that I have the chance to show the world that I can mix it with the best of them. I truly believe in my heart I'm winning this championship back.
The former champion bounced back with a big majority decision victory over Mike Oliver in July as a warm up fight with Gradovich. The defending titleholder also won his holdover bout via unanimous decision over Mauricio Munoz.
Now that both men are rested and ready for the bright lights of the Pacquiao vs. Rios PPV card, boxing fans should expect a fierce bout. With both men having a familiarity with the other and the desire to answer all doubts about the controversy surrounding the first fight, this should be a brutal 12-round title bout.
Gradovich understands that he can lose the belt on the judge’s scorecards—that is how he took the title from Dib in the first place—and will look to bring an aggressive attitude to the fight. The problem is that the No. 1 contender will be desperate and should have the power to control the pace of this fight.
With Gradovich forced into a more defensive style because of Dib’s forward-moving assault, look for this fight to go the distance. Just as the champion stole the belt from Dib via decision, the rematch will see Gradovich lose the title in the same fashion.
Expect a third and deciding bout in this trilogy.
Predicted Winner: Dib via decision.