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Manny Pacquiao – Brandon Rios: OFFICIAL BOXING BREAKDOWN – China HBO/Top Rank PPV – Manny’s Last Stand – BOXING NEWS

By Geno McGahee

This Saturday, live from China and shown on HBO/Top Rank PPV, we will see a former PPV major entity, Manny Pacquiao, 54-5-2, 38 KO’s, try to find the magic again as he faces off against the ambitious challenger in Brandon Rios, 31-1-1, 23 KO’s. If this fight took place two years ago, there would be no drama. It would be considered a mismatch, but times have changed and we are going to find out just how much the Pacman has left.

It’s odd that this showdown is on pay per view, but this is boxing and if boxing has taught us anything, it’s that it’s all about the money. Forget the logic. Pacquiao is coming off of two straight defeats, including a 12 round lackluster decision loss to Timothy Bradley and a devastating knockout loss to familiar foe, Juan Manuel Marquez. There was some talk by Bob Arum about bringing Manny back in a non-PPV fight, but the dollar signs clouded his vision and here we go again.

Across the ring in Rios is another fighter that is coming in off of a loss. He was out-boxed by Mike Alvarado, a fighter that he had knocked out in the fight prior to that encounter. Rios is a brawler with questionable defense and will come right at Manny, which will produce fireworks and an expected knockout. Rios is going to be a truth machine for Pacquiao as he comes forward. If Manny is shot, then we are going to see a former mega-star knocked out of the sport. That’s the draw to this fight, because a fighter coming off of two losses versus a fighter coming off of a loss does not merit a pay per view fight.

As we lead up to the fight, Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, is saying all the right things. He notes that he has never seen his fighter more focused, better trained, hitting harder and so on and so on, but this is a broken record that we have heard before. The loss to Marquez is looked at as a mistake. Pacquiao wasn’t focused on the fight, wasn’t trained properly, but this is hard to believe considering the life and death struggle that he had with Marquez in the three other fights that they had. The one fighter that has tested Manny more than any other was Marquez. It’s hard to imagine that he would take a fight with him lightly.

So this may mean that Pacquiao’s time in the sport is coming to an end and if you look at his last five fights, you can see the decline in his speed and reflexes. He’s not the same fighter that destroyed Ricky Hatton. There was a noticeable decline in his fights with Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito and the third encounter with Juan Manuel Marquez, which he arguably lost. The reflexes and speed are what separated Pacquiao from other fighters. With that gone, he is just a puncher and if that’s the case, we’ve got a good fight on our hands this Saturday.

Rios, in the lead up to this fight, seems agitated and this is, by far, the biggest stage he’s ever been on against the most notable opponent he’s ever faced. Rios is putting forth this bravado and attitude, nearly acting as he has already won the fight. He is a bundle of nerves, obviously. It’s like George Foreman used to say: “He’s whistling through the graveyard.” It will be interesting to see if he burns out early just from the magnitude of the event.

Going in the favor of Rios is his training camp. Training alongside Mikey Garcia, Nonito Donaire and Marcos Maidana, the gym is featuring some of the best in the game. There is an added pressure to maintain the name of the gym and Rios has made a point that it is “his turn” on Saturday with Pacquiao. Make no mistake, Rios wants to win this fight very badly and will be slugging away. If the reflexes of Pacquiao aren’t there, as many suspect, then this group will get another great shot in the arm. Mikey Garcia is considered one of the best in the sport already and you can add Rios to the list if he defeats Pacquiao.

Bob Arum’s pay per view is an attempt to revive Pacquiao’s career and it will be the moment of truth. Rios does pack a punch and will be aggressive. If Manny cannot elude the punches, we may see him face-planted again. It’s nearly a pick’em fight with Pacquiao having the edge. If you have followed the career of Pacquiao and want to see if he can generate another explosive knockout win, then this pay per view is for you, but, in all honesty, on paper, this does not merit a 60 dollar price tag.

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