Manny Pacquiao may be coming off two consecutive defeats, but that hasn’t impacted his confidence in the slightest. After being one of the two most dominant fighters of his generation, the former champ can’t just turn off the attitude that helped turn him into an international superstar.
That inability to reconcile what he once was with what he is now probably explains why, in a recent blog promoting his upcoming fight with Brandon Rios, Pacquiao insinuated that he’d make as quick work of his next challenger as he did of Ricky Hatton back in 2009.
That fight, you will recall, went two whole rounds before Pacquiao knocked Hatton into (temporary) retirement.
"My gameplan for Rios will be similar to the one I had for Ricky Hatton,” Pacquiao said. “That fight didn't go long enough for me to unveil everything. Maybe this time I'll be able to show more of that plan. Maybe."
This has been covered ad nauseam, but it's worth repeating: Pacquiao will not knock Rios out.
Putting aside the fact that Rios’ style and aggressiveness is almost entirely based on his ability to take a punch, and ignoring the fact that Hatton had already proven himself vulnerable against superior opponents in an earlier fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., there’s always this little tidbit: Pacquiao hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2009. Anyone. The notion that he’ll do it against a guy with as solid a chin as Rios’ as is nonsensical.
"I have seen Rios fight and I am confident that I will win the fight,” Pacquiao added. “One of my advantages is my experience against better opposition. A more diversified opposition.”
Unlike the knockout thing, this is actually reasonable. Pacquiao’s experience against better opposition will play in his favor. He’s fought aggressive guys before. He knows how to out-decision them. Not knock them out. Out-decision them.
"I want to prove to everyone that I still can fight like the old Manny Pacquiao. I need to restore the public's confidence in me and my abilities.”
Come Nov. 23, Pacquiao will probably accomplish that goal. But not the way he’s pretending he will. This bout is going to be a battle. It’s going to be a match-up of contrasting styles. And it’s going to be fun to watch. But rest assured, if Pacquiao emerges from it victorious, it’s because it went 12 full rounds.