Manny Pacquiao was supposed to fight Juan Manuel Marquez for a fifth and final time at the end of 2013. That was the showdown everyone wanted to see, and that was the bout which made the most sense for all involved. Unfortunately, it couldn’t come together. From there, Pacquiao’s team scrambled to make a rematch with Timothy Bradley happen. That too quickly fell apart. Ultimately, when it was all said and done, presented with the option of fighting either Mike Alvarado or Brandon Rios, Pacquiao opted for the latter.
Obviously Rios doesn’t have the name recognition that Marquez or Bradley have, and clearly the fact that he is coming off a loss to Alvarado takes a bit of shine off him. That being said, the stunning amount of disrespect he’s been getting in the media up to this point is a bit baffling.
It’s worth remembering, this is a guy who lost to Alvarado via a decision. He previously beat the same guy by knockout. He has one loss on his record. One. This ridiculous notion that just because his style is simple and based entirely on his toughness it’s ineffective seems to have become an argument for why he will inevitably lose this November - too bad it doesn’t make much sense. It’s his style. People have varying styles. Since when is that, as opposed to wins and losses, the metric by which we measure fighers?
Recently, famed trainer Naazim Richardson sat down with Jenna J of On the Ropes Radio fame. When pressed on Pacquiao-Rios, Richardson said this:
“Here’s my thing, if he beat Brandon Rios, that would impress you? Pacquiao beating Rios after Mike Alvarado has beaten Brandon Rios, it would impress you? Now I’m not disrespecting Mike Alvarado, but on a scale of where we level the greatness in champions, not too many people are gonna mark Mike Alvarado as great, and he’s already beaten Brandon Rios. So for Pacquiao to come back and beat Rios, it’s no great shocker.”
Richardson is the best in the business. He’s forgotten about boxing than most people will ever know. However, his dismissal of Rios just because he’s coming off a loss to Alvarado is crazy. Both Rios and Alvarado are amongst the best fighters in their weight class. They do each only have one loss on their records. They’re both really good at what they do, and acting like that’s anything other than a cold, hard fact is nuts.
Rios may lose to Pacquiao this year. He may win, too. But either way, pretending that he isn’t a formidable foe is based far more on naivety than what we’ve seen in the ring from him.