Manny Pacquiao isn’t underestimating Brandon Rios, but the former eight division champ is under no illusions regarding what his next bout means for his overall legacy.
Not a whole lot.
Having fought and defeated some of the biggest names in the sport, Pacquiao understands that, when it’s all said and done, nobody will remember how he performed against Rios. The bout will either end up being a victory that allows him to keep fighting, or the final indicator that he’s past his prime and needs to hang up his gloves. It's a footnote. Nothing more, nothing less.
Based on his interviews and press appearances to date, it actually seems like Pacquiao has a pretty reasonable way of viewing his next match: as a speed bump on the road to his inevitable clash with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Well, scratch that – it’s a speed bump if he can beat Rios. Which is no lock. But, yeah, if he can beat Rios, then this is just one more obstacle that needs to be overcome before folks get the super fight they’ve been pining away for since 2009.
Speaking to reporters this week, Pacquiao indicated that he completely and totally expects to persevere en route to victory on Nov. 23.
"[It is a] great opportunity for me to give a good show for the people, to get back my name into the top of boxing," Pacquiao said.
"Brandon Rios is a good boxer, tough opponent and I believe we can give a good fight. Especially his style and my style it is very good to fight each other, we can create a lot of action in the ring."
Quick reminder: Pacquiao promised Freddie Roach he’d retire if he lost his next match. With that in mind, here is what the Filipino star said when asked how much longer he’d keep fighting: "I'm not really sure (how many fights left). As long as I can still fight, I can fight. In my mind right now, maybe I can still fight maybe two to three years from now.”
If Pacquiao promised Roach that he’d quit with another loss and yet he plans to keep fighting for two more years, that tells you everything you need to know.
Also, don’t forget: Pacquiao recently indicated that he wanted a crack at Mayweather.
"For us, Mayweather is cocky, boastful," he said.
"I can prove to him I can still win. I lost to Marquez but it's just a lucky punch, just part of the game. I was not dominated. If he wants to fight, let's fight."
Mayweather, in turn, responded to his arch rival.
"Everybody's like, 'Aw, Pacquiao,' but I'm just letting you know he's not getting a fight with me," he said.
“The only way he's getting the fight with me is if he signs with Mayweather Promotions. He's got to give me fights with Mayweather Promotions. If he don't give me no fights under Mayweather Promotions, then he's not getting the fight. That's how it is working now, because the ball is in my court. The ball has been in my court. I have been the A side.”
All that being said, nothing happens without Pacquiao getting past Rios in November. And based on how good Rios has looked throughout his career, even against Mike Alvarado in defeat, there is really no guarantee of that at all.