There is a reason why anyone and everyone who knows about boxing was calling on Manny Pacquiao to pick someone other than Brandon Rios for his next bout. It isn’t because Rios is a weak opponent. On the contrary, he’s a star on the come up with an iron chin and a never-say-die attitude that makes him a huge threat in all his fights.
The reason why everyone was calling on Pacquiao to pick someone else is because, out of the four rumored potential opponents he was initially deciding between, Rios was the only one also coming off a loss.
Juan Manuel Marquez’s last bout featured him knocking out Pacquiao in spectacular fashion; Timothy Bradley was riding high after an extremely impressive, hard-fought win over Ruslan Provodnikov; and Mike Alvarado beat Rios in their rematch this year. Had Pacquiao picked any one of those guys, despite the fact that at least one of them probably isn’t actually as good as Rios, he wouldn’t have to face the criticism he is currently being subjected to.
That criticism? Naazim Richardson put it best during a recent interview with On the Ropes Boxing Radio (via ABS-CBN).
“Pacquiao beating Rios after Mike Alvarado has beaten Brandon Rios, it would impress you?” he told On the Ropes Boxing Radio.
“Now I'm not disrespecting Mike Alvarado, but on the scale of where we level the greatness in champions, not too many people are gonna mark Mike Alvarado as a great, and he's already beaten Brandon Rios.”
And that, folks, is why this appears to be a lose-lose situation for Pacquiao, not the win-win he appeared to be in when this decision was first made. If he beats Rios, people will just dismiss it as a victory over a nobody – despite the fact that Rios has a very bright future ahead of him and is tremendously underrated right now. If he loses, then he lost to a guy coming off a loss.
Rios is a very, very good fighter and a win over him would very meaningful. But apparently in order to tear down Pacquiao, nobody is allowed to acknowledge those facts.