Manny Pacquiao opened up as a massive favorite over Brandon Rios. Maybe not by as large a margin as in his past fights, but still a pretty noticeable one. Initially the odds makers had it at -400 for the Filipino star, however, over the past few months that has transformed into -450. There is a reason why nobody thinks he can lose this bout: he’s genuinely better than Rios.
Rios, 27, is a great fighter. He’s also a very easy one to prepare for if you're an elite-level boxer. He’s not particularly savvy and he doesn’t employ great angles, rather the former WBA champ simply relies on an aggressive, move-forward-at-all times approach that wears down lesser foes. Pacquiao has faced enough guys like that to know how to handle it. He will utilize his speed, agility and versatility in an effort to wear Rios out, and rather than fruitlessly attempting to secure a knockout that he won’t get, he’ll focus on getting the decision victory.
If this bout goes to a decision, it’s an absolute guarantee that Pacquiao will prevail. The only way Rios has a shot is if he knocks Pacquiao out. That’s it.
Because Rios has such a tiny chance at winning this fight, fans and writers have been looking for any advantage he might have. Literally, any possible advantage. Just to things interesting. That’s why him being bigger than Pacquiao has become a thing over the past few days. When that didn’t catch on as a legitimate issue, seeing as Pacquiao has taken on and beaten legitimately bigger guys before, everyone reverted to the original fake dilemma surrounding this match-up: Rios’ new relationship with Alex Ariza.
Ariza was Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach throughout the most dominant part of his career. Outspoken and unafraid to tell Freddie Roach exactly what he thought, Ariza often rubbed folks inside Pacquiao’s camp the wrong way. While the Filipino star was on his incredible run, though, nobody wanted to rock the boat.
That changed when Pacquiao lost his last two fights.
Roach promptly kicked Ariza to the curb, where he was quickly swept up by Rios’ camp. Given his relationship with Pacquiao, a lot of people understandably assumed that Ariza would be able to divulge all sorts of intimate secrets to his new camp.
As it turns out, not so much.
In an interview with reporters, per RingTV, Rios and his trainer Robert Garcia indicated that Ariza wasn’t giving them anything of note as it pertains to beating Pacquiao.
"The fact that he worked with Pacquiao before does not mean we are taking advantage or asking any questions about Pacquiao," Garcia maintained. "Ariza doesn’t ever say anything to me about Pacquiao or what we should do against Pacquiao. I don’t ask questions and he doesn’t tell me anything. He’s just doing his job like he never worked with Pacquiao."
In a different interview, Ariza also said that he wasn’t doing anything shady with Rios’ team.
"As far as the personal thing, I still consider [Pacquiao] a friend,” he told RingTV.com. “I don't have a vendetta or want any kind of reciprocity.”
Much like the size thing, this is a non-issue. Pacquiao’s bout against Rios will not be impacted in any way by Ariza. This is just one of those fun pre-fight things to talk about when there’s nothing better to talk about.
If this is Pacquiao's biggest concern as it pertains to Rios, he has no concerns.
Pacquiao and Rios will square off in Macao on Nov. 23.