By Chris Robinson
On Nov. 23, all eyes will be fixed upon eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, as he returns to the ring from the first time in nearly a year. Facing off with rugged brawler Brandon Rios in Macau, China in an HBO pay per view attraction, there are several questions hovering around him that Pacquiao will look to answer.
It was Dec. 8 of 2012 when Pacquiao suffered a horrific knockout loss at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, as his Mexico City rival drilled him with a counter right hand that put him to sleep in the sixth round of their fourth fight in Las Vegas.
It makes the match with the always-pressing and hard-punching Rios that much more intriguing.
Catching up with WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley recently, I was extremely curious for his take on the Pacquiao-Rios showdown.
In June of last year, it was Bradley who found a way to edge Pacquiao, winning an unpopular split-decision against him after rallying down the stretch of their fight.
Always excellent with breaking matchups down, Bradley offered his personal viewpoint of the forthcoming duel.
“You know, Brandon Rios is a very tough opponent,” Bradley admitted. “He comes to fight. If you really know Manny Pacquiao, guys who come straight at him, he does his best work when guys come straight at him.
“Brandon Rios is a smaller guy,” Bradley added. “They probably are the same size, but he’s coming up from 135 to 140 and now 147. I don’t know if the weight is suitable for him to come in at 147.”
Often times, when a fighter is stopped the way Pacquiao was, they never seem to recover mentally or physically. But for Bradley, there is little hesitation when it comes to riding with his former rival.
“I definitely will pick Pacquiao in this fight,” Bradley stated. “I think he has a lot left in the tank. I think his speed, his movement, his power that he carries; I think he’ll be able to display it against Brandon Rios. Because, Brandon Rios is straight forward. His head don’t move to the side.
“He’s just straight down the middle all the time,” Bradley noted. “And Pacquiao, everybody knows, he throws his combinations. [If] he puts them together, he’s going to do damage.”
Bradley can’t overlook the brute force of Rios, who has a history of gritty infighting and breaking his opponents down to the body and head. Still, he seems to see too much of an edge on Pacquiao’s side when it comes to his overall ability.
“I think it should be a good fight as long as it last,” Bradley said. “Rios does have a puncher’s chance. Everybody wants to see if Pacquiao can still take a punch after being knocked completely out cold. But I think he’ll be alright and I think he will win this fight.”