Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (54-5, 38KO’s), the former pound for pound king of the ring and the only eight division boxing champion in history, makes his return to the ring against Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (31-1, 23KO’s), former WBA world light welterweight champion. The WBO Welterweight Title will be on the line and the fight will be held at The Venetian Macau’s Cotai Arena on Saturday, November 23, 2013 ( U.S. local time ) in Macau, China. There is a fourteen hour time difference from the United States, but locally it will held at approximately 9 p.m. ET/6 PT on HBO PPV.
There are many factors for both fighters coming into this fight, and one is that both boxers are coming into the fight after losses. Rios is coming into this fight with a unanimous decision loss to Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KO’s) in March of this year and Pacquiao is coming off a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KO’s) and a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12KO’s). Some consider the knockout controversial as well, including Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, who has been quoted as saying “it was a lucky punch.” Nevertheless, this is the first time that the Pacman has not fought at least two fights in a single year in his entire career. Time will tell if the thirteen month layoff has rejuvenated Pacquiao or not.
Another factor leading up to the fight is supposedly the height and weight issue. For the Pacman, this has never been a real issue for him at all. Throughout his career he has fought heavier fighters and has proven that in his escalation to the heavier weight divisions. As for height, he has been successful against the likes of Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31KO’s), Shane Mosley (47-8, 39KO’s), Joshua Clottey (37-4, 22KO’s), and Antonio Margarito (38-8, 27KO’s), who happened to be 5` 11`` inches tall. In each of those fights, the Pacman defeated all of those opponents, including knocking out Cotto and pummeling the much taller Margarito. As for Rios, the taller fighter, height will not be to his advantage. Although Rios is moving up in weight from light welterweight to welterweight, the added pounds shouldn’t be an issue for Rios because he has had problems making weight in the past.
One of the biggest factors in this fight will be the age difference and wear and tear of each fighter. Will this make the difference? Rios is the younger boxer at the young age of twenty seven and Pacquiao will be turning thirty five come this December. Pacquiao has undoubtedly the most wear and tear on his career so far, and his devastating loss in his last fight will definitely be a factor. For some fighters, the knockout can change their careers dramatically, especially those toward the latter part of their careers. This fight will be the true test for Pacquiao as to how his last fight has really affected him. Indications from his camp conclude otherwise, and that he is at his sharpest, but only the fight will tell the truth.
The southpaw and speed factor – will the slower Rios be able to handle the southpaw stance of the Pacman? If the Pacman’s speed can continue as in the past, it will make a difficult night for Rios. Coming into this fight, it should be apparent that Pacquiao will be overly cautious of any type of knockout punch by the power punching Rios. It is true that most orthodox fighters do not like to fight southpaws, and in this case, Pacquiao is one of the most dangerous in the business. For Rios to attempt to take advantage of these two traits, he must cut off the ring and try to land the knockout punch. But in doing so, he takes the risk of getting knocked out himself. Rios had initially said that he will knockout and retire the Pacman, but recently he has changed his tune. Rios said “This time I am focusing on winning – not on the knockout – and Robert (Garcia, his trainer) and his Dad have designed a lot of ways for me to do that.” Speaking of knockouts, Pacquiao will be looking for the knockout as well, but his trainer Freddie Roach has been more adamant about it. He recently said “This was the happiest and most productive camp I have had with Manny in years. I know I predicted that Manny would knock Rios out inside six rounds, but based on our last workout, I don't see how Rios makes it past the fourth round."
Although the main event is between Pacquiao and Rios, trainers for both sides have been very outspoken and yesterday it culminated into a strange episode between Hall of Famer, Freddie Roach, the trainer for Pacquiao and Robert Garcia, the trainer for Rios. It then escalated into a cheap shot (actually a kick) by Alex Ariza to the chest of Freddie Roach. While at the workout facilities for both fighters, words were exchanged between Freddie Roach and Robert Garcia regarding training time for the fighters. Apparently Roach was said to have approached Garcia and expletives were exchanged, then another Rios team member got into a verbal rant with Roach. In between all of this, additional words were exchanged between Roach and as he approached Alex Ariza, Ariza physically kicked Roach in the chest. The exchange of words continued between Roach and some of the Rios team members until Roach was escorted to a locker room. Before entering the locker room, Roach had requested that Ariza and one of the unknown Rios team members to be arrested. [See video on internet].
Despite this latest incident, I doubt it will have any bearing on the fighters because Pacquiao and Rios have been calm and cool up to this point. Although, after the incident, Freddie Roach said “He's going to be upset, but I'll put on the mitts and he'll hit me hard, and it'll be OK."
The odds are supposedly against Rios, but in boxing, anything can happen. Rios probably has a two-part plan. The first will be to start out cautiously and test the power of Pacquiao. If he feels he can take the power, he will go for the knockout early. The second part of his plan will be to defend if Pacman starts landing with both hands from all angles, and then he will be forced to resort to his old style of just coming forward and trading punches.
For Pacquiao, he will rely on his old style of using his punching speed and power to offset Rios. After several rounds of landing with both hands to the head of Rios, and as soon as he wears his opponent down, he will go for the knockout. Although Rios can take a punch, if the Pacman returns to his old form, it will end by stoppage or knockout for Pacquio. Pacman also is quoted as saying “Am I confident for my fight with Rios? I am more than confident. Rios is bigger than me. Remember, Goliath was bigger than David and yet David needed just one stone to fell the giant. I enter this fight stronger than ever. I have the strength of my county and my people coursing through my body. I fight for them, not for me. I fight for the glory, not mine.”
Many predictions have been made and the following are some from former world champions:
George Foreman – Foreman expects the fight to last the distance. “I think it’s going to be a 12-round decision, and I give Pacquiao the hometown decision. Both guys know this is a showdown for their career.”
Roberto Duran – “Yeah, Manny Pacquiao’s a well-known star, but the stars are in the sky, and on Earth everybody is equal. But he’s not finished by any means.”
“Sure, he’s embarrassed because of the Marquez loss, and because it happened in front of millions of people, and he needs to redeem himself. So Brandon needs to be very, very careful.”
“I was knocked out but I was able to come back and win a title, so by no means can you count out Manny Pacquiao. He’s still very, very dangerous, so Brandon will need to be very, very careful. I just give Brandon Rios the advice to go in and attack and to not hesitate, because he can win if he just fights intelligently.”
I just think that Manny Pacquiao is still a dangerous fighter, so Brandon Rios needs to be intelligent in the ring and protect himself at all times. Because with Manny Pacquio, you don’t know where the punches are going to be coming from. And again, Manny Pacquiao is not finished in my eyes. I still believe that he’s one of the world’s most dangerous fighters around right now.”
Sugar Ray Leonard – “What Brandon Rios has to do against Manny Pacquiao is to let him forget about what happened to him in that last fight, so Rios has to really come out and jump on Pacquiao.”
Leonard also predicted a Pacquiao victory but did not count out the hard-hitting Rios, who is a former lightweight world champion. “I think Pacquiao will win, although I give Rios a shot – a big shot.” It’s not going to be an easy fight.” “I’m picking Manny to win because he is Manny Pacquiao,” he added.
There will be several fights on the undercard, but one of the most notable will be undefeated heavyweight Andy Ruiz (20-0, 14KO’s) from Mexicali, Mexico against Tor Hamer (21-2, 14KO’s) from New York. Ruiz will be defending his WBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title and will be pursuing the vacant NABF heavyweight title. Ruiz is an explosive fighter with some of the fastest hands in the heavyweight division. The twenty four year old Ruiz is coming into this fight with two TKO’s in his last two previous fights and Hamer has two KO’s from his last two fights, so expect to see some type of knockout.
IBF Featherweight Title – Billey Dib (36-2, 21 KO’s) from Australia versus Evgeny Gradovich (17-0, 8KO’s) from Ingrim Russia.