Manny Pacquiao and his team knew that they faced a tough road back to the top of boxing’s pound-for-pound charts after last year’s brutal defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez. For the first time ever, all involved were so visibly flustered about what they had witnessed that they weren’t entirely sure on what the right next step was.
Rumors leaking out of Pacquiao’s camp were all over the place. Some had him fighting twice in 2013; others only had him fighting once. There was talk of him taking on everyone ranging from Ruslan Provodnikov to Timothy Bradley to Floyd Mayweather to Marquez.
It was a mess.
Fortunately, as is usually the case, things calmed down after the initial shock of Pacquiao-Marquez IV wore off. Bob Arum and Freddie Roach determined that the best course of action was allowing their superstar to rest, and then booking only a single bout for this year. The possible opponents were narrowed down pretty quickly, too. The final four were: Marquez, Bradley, Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios.
Marquez got the first call. Their most recent fight, much like the three that had come before it, was a financial success. That coupled with the buzz surrounding Marquez’s memorable knockout finish would’ve made a fifth meeting a blockbuster hit. But then, for reasons that no one quite understood, Marquez said no. He was offered more money than he had ever made for a single fight, however, it didn’t sway him.
The next call went to Bradley. He was offered more money than he had ever received for a bout, too. He pondered it for a lot longer than Marquez did, but in the end he gave the same answer. Instead he opted to take less cash to fight Marquez.
That left Alvarado and Rios. The former was coming off a huge victory over the latter and didn’t boast as strong a chin. Moreover, his style, although slightly less entertaining, presented less risks for Pacquiao. Seeing as the Filipino star had just been on the receiving end of a brutal knockout, nobody would’ve blamed him for taking that match.
Instead Pacquiao picked Rios.
Finally, in a recent interview that BoxingNews24 was kind enough to transcribe, Bob Arum explained why that decision was made.
“I looked around at the fighters that would guarantee that the fight would be sensationally exciting, you have to have a fighter that is all action, all coming forward and that was Brandon Rios,” he said. “Rios is the closest thing to the late Arturo Gatti I’ve seen around.”
Rios was certainly the more entertaining option between him and Alvarado; he’s also the riskier one. He has far less ways to beat Pacquiao than Pacquiao has to beat him, but that’s the beauty of boxing: you just need the one.
Did Pacquiao’s team make the right choice in selecting Rios? We’ll all find out together in two weeks.