To assess the huge Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios showdown on BoxNation this Sunday morning, boxing writer Glynn Evans spoke to reigning British welterweight king Frankie Gavin, a man who is himself on the cusp of world contention at 147lbs.
The Birmingham star puts his Commonwealth title on the line against Joseph Lamptey on December 21st at the First Direct Arena in Leeds and a win will see him enter 2014 with the European and a world title firmly in his sights. Tickets are available on 0844 248 1585.
Filipino legend Pacquiao once enjoyed parallel support alongside Floyd Mayweather in the debate to be considered the sport’s premier pound-for-pound practitioner.
The six weight world champion is an absolute shoe-in for The Hall of Fame once he becomes eligible. However, contention is building as to the extent of his decline over the past 18 months.
Once the most deadly executioner in the sport, ‘Pacman’, now 34, hasn’t registered a stoppage victory for over four years and, for the first time in his 19 year pro career, he endured back-to-back defeats last year against Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Both conquerors, of course, are fighters of the very highest calibre. The Filipinos backers will argue, and with some justification, that their hero was shafted by the judges in the former and had the upper hand of a thriller in the latter before carelessly colliding into one of the greatest punches in ring history.
BoxNation viwers can make their own assessments of Pacquiao’s present form by watching into his ring return against Azteca warrior Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios, live from The Venetian Resort, Macao, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Watch the the whole show - which also includes IBF featherweight rematch between Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich and Australia’s Billy Dib - live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) from 1.30am on Sunday morning. Join at www.boxnation.com
The pair meet over 12 rounds for the WBO International welterweight title and Rios has the tools and temperament to make a proper nuisance of himself.
A one-time US amateur champion and 2004 Olympic alternate, ‘Bam Bam’ is a former WBA lightweight champion who went unbeaten in his first 32 before finally conceding to Denver’s Mike Alvarado in a potential 2013 Fight of the Year in his last gig.
At just 27, he has the desire and punch-output to seriously inconvenience Pacquiao, if the Filipino brings anything other than his A game.
Here is Frankie’s analysis:
“There’s no chance that this is going to be boring. When have you ever seen either Manny Pacquiao or Brandon Rios in a bad fight?
Pacquiao might not be what he once was, back when he was bashing up the likes Margarito and Cotto. I don’t think he quite has the engine that he used to have. I think splitting with (conditioner) Alex Ariza is also affecting him. Physically, he hasn’t looked as imposing recently, as he did in the past. And I believe that Ariza is actually working with the Rios camp for this fight.
But you can’t take too much from Pacman’s losses to Timothy Bradley or Juan Manuel Marquez. Besides, like pretty much everybody else, I thought that Pacquiao won the Bradley fight hands down. And we’ve seen what a good fighter Bradley is, in his recent wins over Provodnikov and Marquez.
Let’s be honest, Manny was winning the fourth Marquez fight quite comfortably until he walked into a clean shot. And it’s not as though he’s not been kayoed before. He had a few bad losses inside distance earlier in his career at the lighter weights and he always managed to come back from them. I understand he’s been back in the gym for quite a while and he’s had plenty of time to get over it. For me, Brandon Rios is nowhere near the level of a Bradley or a Marquez.
I think Mayweather is now well ahead of Pacquiao but Manny’s still as deserving of that fight than any of the others, certainly more so than Amir Khan.
Apart from Floyd, I still think Pacquiao is as good as any of the others, still a real force. In his prime, I really admired his speed and engine, his ferocity, the brutal work rate that he could maintain for the full 12 rounds if he needed to.
Occasionally, that intensity meant that he made a lot of mistakes because he was rushing in but I doubt that Rios will be able to exploit it. He’s not the type to sit back. He dives straight in and makes more mistakes than Pacquiao.
I’ve seen most of Rios’ recent fights; John Murray, (Richard) Abril plus the two with (Mike) Alvarado. Abril beat him clearly but was robbed of the decision.
For me, he’s just a bit of a bully who tries to put fear into his opponents, break them down mentally, before and during the fight. He doesn’t care about what he does or says to upset the opponent or their team. He’s got no respect. I don’t like the way he didn’t even try to make the weight against Murray and Abril.
The way to ‘do’ Pacquiao is to catch him with one surprise shot but, though Rios is very physically strong, I don’t think he’s a one punch finisher capable of doing to Pacquiao what Marquez did. John Murray was still standing after eleven rounds when he got stopped by Rios and that was down at lightweight when Rios had a weight advantage.
I don’t think Rios moving up in weight will prove a huge factor in this fight. He’s always shown a pretty decent chin and, anyway, Pacquiao isn’t a genuine welter either. They’re both pretty small at the weight. What I do think will be a problem for Rios is that he doesn’t move his feet enough. His head movement isn’t all that either. I’d love an opportunity to fight him.
To give himself any chance of winning, Rios is going to have to move his top half sharply and try to force Pacquiao on to the back foot. He needs to make Pacquiao miss and expend a lot of energy. Easier said than done. It’s possible that he’s going to catch Pacquiao at the right time, but I don’t think so.
Rios will no doubt come out throwing bombs but, to be honest, I expect Pacquiao to batter him. I expect Manny will start off boxing him, darting in and out like when he bamboozled De La Hoya - and Rios is no De La Hoya - and overwhelm him somewhere between eight and ten rounds. Rios is way too easy to catch and Pacquiao hits very, very hard. He’s going to shred him to bits!”