Manny Pacquiao had the option of selecting either Mike Alvarado or Brandon Rios to be his next opponent. Both fighters bring their fair share of notable strengths and weaknesses to the table, but ultimately Pacquiao opted to take on Rios.
There are a number of reasons why Pacquiao may have felt as though Rios posed some stylistic advantages. The 27-year-old star is very tenacious in his approach and tends to move forward at all times, regardless of how much damage he’s taking. This allows skilled, quick punchers to move in and out with relative ease as they attempt to out-point him.
Beyond that, he’s also coming off a loss – and defeats have a strange mental effect on certain guys that can’t be measured in the lead-up to a bout.
Whatever the specific cause, though, clearly Pacquiao felt like he had a better shot at breaking his two-fight skid against Rios than Alvarado. Is he right? It’s debatable. While Rios’ offensive style presents a good match-up for Pacquiao, his iron chin coupled with the Filipino star’s inability to knock folks out anymore means this will go to the judges. And if Rios lands a good shot on Pacquiao before the final bell sounds – lights out.
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During a recent interview with Boxing Scene, Rios pledged to make his counterpart regret agreeing to fight him.
“He picked me because I lost. They probably think. ‘Brandon is easy to hit. Brandon gets hit all the time.’ (But) it’s a very different story when you get in the ring with me. I’ve been waiting for this fight all my life. They made a mistake picking me,” Rios said.
“This is my chance to show what I can do with a great fighter in front of me. I gotta come out in a smarter way. I’ve got to fight different than I usually do because Pacquiao can hurt you. He’s got a good knockout percentage. When I’m inside the pocket (at close quarters), that’s my game. I can fight very well. I’ve proven it.”
The last bit is for dramatic effect, obviously, but the general point is sound. That is probably why Pacquiao picked Rios, and it’s good that he knows what his perceived flaws are. It's the only way you’ll improve upon them.
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This promises to be a very interesting bout.