Much like someone playing a video game needs to get past a certain level in order to reach the next one, Manny Pacquiao has to beat Brandon Rios to get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Coming off two consecutive defeats after stringing together seven straight years of nothing but wins, the Filipino star is at a crossroads. If he beats his 27-year-old foe this November, he’s right back to where he was 12 months ago. If he loses, his career is over.
Lost in all of the analysis and psychobabble regarding Pacquiao’s future is the fact that he’s still only lost twice since 2005. Furthermore, one of those two losses, the one that came to Timothy Bradley, was extremely controversial. Aside from the two judges who handed Bradley the decision, everyone had Pacquiao as the winner. And this wasn’t like the Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III fight that some people had going one way and others had going the other – everyone had Pacquiao-Bradley going in the former’s favor.
So, really, Pacquiao is coming off one-loss-that-was-really-a-win and one embarrassing defeat to a yoked up Marquez. Maybe that’s why, despite everything that’s been said up to this point, nobody is quite ready to close the door on his career.
If the former eight-division champ can get past Rios, and that’s a big if, then he will essentially be the ideal fit for a bout against Floyd Mayweather. We’ve discussed why this is the case ad nauseam so there’s no point in rehashing it, but it's what the situation currently looks is. The point is, that regardless of what anyone says, Pacquiao is still only one step away from a shot at the best pound-for-pounder on the planet.
Will he actually get that fight against Mayweather? Only time will tell. But considering the fact that this time five months ago he laying face first on the canvas seeing butterflies, holding the key to his own destiny is a pretty nifty position for Pacquiao to be in right now.