Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) vs. Brandon Rios (31-1-1)
Vacant WBO International Welterweight title
Sportsbook.ag Line: Pacquiao -450, Rios +350
Manny Pacquiao looks for his first win in over two years on Saturday night when he squares off with Brandon Rios in Macao, China.
Throughout his career, Pacquiao has usually fought twice in the same year. However, this is one of the longest layoffs, having not fought since Dec. 8, 2012. He is also coming off two straight losses, with the first one being the controversial split-decision defeat to Timothy Bradley on June 9, 2012, a bout many experts believe Pacquiao should have won. The most recent defeat though, cannot be debated as Juan Manuel Marquez delivered one of the most vicious punches in recent memory, knocking Pacquiao out at the end of the sixth round. Even in that fight, he was dominating for the most part, landing 87 strikes to Marquez’s head, compared to Marquez’s 39 shots. It won’t be easy to snap the losing skid though, as the 27-year-old Rios has the opportunity of a lifetime, and will also be looking to bounce back from a loss. On March 3, he lost the interim WBO light welterweight belt to Mike Alvarado, a guy he had beaten in the previous match five months earlier by way of TKO.
Before losing his two most recent bouts, Pacquiao had won 15 consecutive fights. Of his 54 career victories, 38 of them have come by way of knockout, with the other 16 by decision. His last victory was against Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12, 2011, a fight that he won by majority decision, while his last win by knockout came seven fights ago on Nov. 14, 2009 against Miguel Cotto. When it comes to Pacquiao, his biggest strength is his quickness. Very few fighters have ever possessed the ability to strike as quickly as “Pac Man,” and this will be a big advantage for him in this fight as well. The 34-year-old southpaw’s conditioning is also top notch, but in the loss to Marquez, he got caught trying to predict the fight. Pacquiao thought that Marquez was going for a punch in the side, leaving his face open for the knockout punch. If he comes out and is focused the entire bout, he should be in good shape. However, if he gets caught trying to guess Rios’ move, he could be in trouble as Rios also has the ability to land major shots.
Rios has 31 victories in his career, with 23 of them coming by knockout. However, 17 of those have been by way of TKO, showing that he may not have the most devastating knockout power, but the repeated shots wear down his opponents. Like Pacquiao, “Bam Bam” Rios is coming off a loss to a fighter that he had previously defeated. Rios, who holds a 1.5-inch height advantage and 1-inch reach advantage over his opponent, is definitely a brawler, in the sense that he is ready to both throw and take punches. He is always ready for a fight, and that is key against an established boxer like Pacquiao. Rios’ biggest weakness is that he is all offense. He is always pushing the tempo of the fight, and can leave himself open to a punch.