When Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) takes on Brandon Rios (31-1-1) November 23, at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China, the only outcome that would benefit Pacquiao will be a knockout victory over the challenger.
Anything less will be viewed as an utter failure.
After losing to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez in his last two fights—by decision and knockout respectively—Pacquiao needs to find redemption, and a convincing win over the No. 6 ranked welterweight in the world would mark the beginning of his ascension back to the top of the weight class.
Rios is no joke, and if Pac-Man doesn’t take his opponent serious, he could end up face down on the mat once again. Unlike Marquez, Rios pushes the tempo of the fight and will be matching the amount of punches that Pacquiao throws.
This is the kind of fight where Pac-Man must be as sharp defensively as he is offensively. Just like Floyd Mayweather uses his defensive prowess, Pacquiao will be looking to capitalize on the openings his opponent leaves while being aggressive and making them pay with firm counterpunches.
That doesn’t mean Pac-Man won’t be aggressive, though.
Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach, told Dan Rafael of ESPN about how Pacquiao plans to get inside with Rios and do enough damage to knock him out:
Manny is definitely going to get his mojo back with this fight. Brandon Rios likes to fight in the pocket and exchange, and Manny is very good in the pocket, too. I think it'll be an exciting fight but that Manny is going to land in the pocket at some point and knock this guy out somewhere along the way. Rios likes to exchange and his style is not really difficult to figure out, so Manny's gonna hit him.
That aggressive style that Roach mentioned has earned Rios 23 career knockouts, making him one of the more dangerous fighters Pacquiao and his team could have selected for his next fight in November.
While many fans thought Pac-Man would take an easy fight to find redemption after the knockout loss to Marquez, Manny decided a challenge was needed to begin his rise to the top once again.
Pacquiao needs to dominate from the opening bell and never give Rios the chance to find his rhythm.
Using his elite quickness and power—coupled with his ability to land combinations at will with his unmatched hand speed—Pac-Man must find his way into the pocket of Rios and hit him before he has a chance to react.
Rios has the power and willingness to exchange inside that could hurt any fighter, but Pacquiao knows how to inflict heavy damage on his opponent while minimizing how much punishment he actually sustains.
Marquez knocked out Pac-Man because he was too aggressive; that won’t happen again.