Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios both have very plain, very clear formulas heading into their Nov. 23 showdown. The former will rely on his quickness and elusiveness, surgically dismantling his opponent for 12 solid rounds en route to a decision victory. The latter will be aggressive, never go backwards, and aim to knock Pacquiao out before the 12th round.
Whoever can execute their gameplan best wins.
And because it’s far easier to out-decision someone than to knock them out, Pacquiao has been a favorite since the fight was announced.
The really interesting thing about Rios’ goal to knock Pacquiao out is that, just a year ago, it would have been an unfathomable prospect. Pacquiao, through 61 fights, had only suffered defeat by KO twice. Both were early in his career, before he evolved into one of the best fighters of his generation. Since 1999, heading into Dec. 2012, his only two losses came by decision – one to Erik Morales and one to Timothy Bradley.
But then the fourth Juan Manuel Marquez fight happened. And just like that, with one brilliant counter punch, nearly 15 years of invincibility went out the window. Suddenly the prospect of Pacquiao losing future fights by knockout became a very real possibility.
Over the past month Rios and his camp have been telling everyone that would listen that they’re aiming to win by knockout. Understandably so – they too realize that there is no way they’ll get a decision victory over Pacquiao. The question now is: realistically, what are the odds that Rios is actually able to do it?
According to Pacquiao’s camp: slim.
Speaking to Boxing Scene this week, trainer Freddie Roach offered a dismissive “good luck” when it was relayed to him that Rios would be aiming to knock Pacquiao out in three weeks.
Is Roach right to have such a ho-hum attitude about Rios’ ability to stop this fight early? Maybe. If Pacquiao executes his gameplan, stays out of Rios’ reach, and performs the way everyone expects him to, then yes, Rios won’t be able to knock him out. However, we said the same exact thing prior to the fourth Marquez fight.
There’s a reason why winners and losers aren’t determined on paper.