By Ryan Maquiñana
One fighter who might have missed out on a huge payday is Brandon Rios. According to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, the former lightweight titleholder from Oxnard, Calif., was in the mix to fight pay-per-view kingpin Manny Pacquiao next spring.
“I’m picking Pacquiao to win, because that’s who I want to fight,” the 26-year-old Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) said Friday night.
However, Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) has possibly wiped out those plans with a single right hand Saturday night. The Mexican legend’s sixth-round blow had Pacquiao out cold for close to a minute and effectively ended the Filipino’s status as the best fighter on the planet.
“It was something that surprised me,” said Robert Garcia, who trains Rios. “I didn’t really expect Marquez to win by knockout the way he did. I thought he would win a decision, but the way he did was just so impressive.”
Marquez also floored Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) in the third round, which one can argue was the first legitimate knockdown of the Filipino franchise since he arrived in America in 2001. (Official knockdowns by Marco Antonio Barrera and Shane Mosley were later shown by replays to be slips.)
“He definitely came in with a good gameplan,” Garcia said of Marquez. “He definitely came in physically younger than what he really is. I think Pacquiao made the mistake of trying to go out for the kill, and he got caught.
“It just happens. It’s part of boxing. I definitely feel that Marquez is on top of the world right now. Pacquiao will come back and do what he’s done before again. So they’re both still superstars.
If Pacquiao-Rios is out of the picture, then what about Marquez taking on the rising star from Southern California in 2013?
“We had talked about if Pacquiao wins, that [he] was definitely probably going to be Brandon’s next opponent,” Garcia said. “Now we don’t know. With Marquez, that’s a different team, different promoter from Mexico, Zanfer. So it’s up to them, but I definitely would want to get a shot. I think styles make fights, and Brandon’s style would give Marquez a hell of a fight.”
Garcia stated his case for Marquez-Rios, and it’s safe to say he believes in his fighter’s chances to pull off the upset if the clash came to fruition.
"Brandon makes exciting fights. He has a great right hand, great uppercuts, and doesn’t hold back," Garcia said. "He keeps coming and coming. It’s a perfect style for Marquez’s style. When you have fighters like Pacquiao and Marquez who are both counterpunching and both fighting in and out, that’s a toss in the air to see who lands a better shot. Marquez landed this time, and that’s why he won.
“But with Brandon’s style, he just keeps coming. He takes a great punch, and he will take one, two, [or] three, to land one, so that’s just Brandon Rios.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.