Manny Pacquiao has a number of notable advantages over Brandon Rios. He is a far more skilled fighter. He is lighter on his feet. He comes in at angles in ways that Rios can only dream of. He has a ton of experience against elite-level guys. He’s a former champion.
That being said, he also has one fairly obvious disadvantage: he’s smaller.
In a recent column, ESPN’s Dan Rafael pointed this out and correctly noted that the size advantage Rios has on his opponent was pretty noticeable when they were doing press events together for November’s bout.
During a conference this week, Rios touched on the size disparity between him and Pacquiao.
"If [Pacquiao] thinks I'm the smaller guy, at the press conferences, I believe that he was smaller than me, so I'm not the smaller guy," he said. "If you believe that then your eyes are deceiving you, because I'm not smaller than Pacquiao. Pacquiao's smaller than me.”
Top Rank boss Bob Arum echoed that point.
"That's a good point that Brandon raises because Pacquiao is the much smaller guy," Arum said. "Brandon towers over Pacquiao. He's much bigger than Pacquiao.”
Now, to be fair, Arum has his own selfish reasons for publicizing that fact. At the moment, Pacquiao-Rios is being viewed as an easy victory for the former. There are serious doubts about whether people will even be interested enough to tune in. Billing Pacquiao as the underdog, as opposed to the favorite he is in reality, helps sell the fight.
Will Rios’ size advantage help him against Pacquiao? It’s tough to say. It definitely won’t hurt. Pacquiao has taken on and beaten a number of elite guys who were bigger than him, however, he’s not the same fighter now as he was then. It’s hard to apply generally accepted Pacquiao principles from the time when he was pounding Antonio Margarito to present day.
Then again, would Pacquiao’s gameplan against Rios really be any different if he were just a little bit smaller? The blueprint on beating Rios is based entirely on avoiding his aggressive move-forward-at-all-times style. Him being bigger makes that marginally more difficult, but it doesn’t alter the gameplan itself. Pacquiao would have employed a catch-me-if-you-can strategy either way.
At the end of the day, Rios’ size advantage will matter – but very, very slightly.
Pacquiao and Rios will meet on Nov. 23 at The Venetian Macao in Macau.