It seems like a lifetime ago now, but prior to Manny Pacquiao’s fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, there was a lot of chatter about him squaring off against Brandon Rios.
Heading into Dec. 2012, Rios was fresh off his Fight of the Year performance against Mike Alvarado and riding a nifty 31-fight undefeated streak. Understandably, Bob Arum was looking for a top level opponent to pit him against, and Pacquiao seemed like a logical choice.
At the time, Pacquiao was aiming to bounce back from a ludicrous decision loss to Timothy Bradley that nobody really considered a loss, and the general assumption was that he would beat Marquez via decision as he had two times prior. Arum openly spoke of a possible Pacquiao-Rios showdown as late as the week before Pacquiao-Marquez IV.
Obviously things didn’t go according to plan.
Pacquiao ended up getting dropped by his Mexican counterpart in the sixth round of what was a pretty epic battle, and any real reason Rios had to fight him quickly dissipated. There was some chatter about Marquez possibly stepping in and fighting Rios, however, all involved realized that there were better options on the table. It made far more sense to match Pacquiao with Marquez, and then to have Rios and Alvarado fight in a rematch.
Rios-Alvarado II went down this past weekend, and it wound up being everything the first fight was plus more. Alvarado ultimately won, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort by Rios. Their bout, in all likelihood, will take home Fight of the Year honors this year, too.
Immediately after Rios’ victory, Pacquiao advisor Michael Koncz came out and said that his camp would still consider a fight against Rios. He insisted that, despite the fact that both Pacquiao and Rios were coming off losses, that this was a match-up the public wanted to see.
He was wrong, of course.
The public would gladly welcome a Pacquiao-Rios showdown, but not right now. Pacquiao-Marquez V and Rios-Alvarado III make far more sense, both financially and otherwise. If Pacquiao can beat Marquez, and if Rios can get past Alvarado, then this fight can be made. But not before both of those things happen.