The fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios will have many implications. The result of the bout won’t only affect the two boxers involved, but others at the top of the sport as well.
A victory is important for both fighters. Pacquiao hasn’t won in two years, and his trainer has suggested that a defeat would force him into early retirement. Rios is looking to bounce back from his first loss, and an upset over Pac-Man would give him a marquee victory on his resume.
However, the boxer who sees his hand raised early on Sunday morning could determine the opponent for one of the biggest matches of 2014. Floyd Mayweather has committed to fighting in May and September, but has yet to decide on his next opponent. A victory for Pacquiao could put him on Mayweather’s short list of potential challengers.
A Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has been talked about for years, but hit several roadblocks. Now, Pacquiao’s camp has said they want to make the mega-fight happen.
"There is no real impediment to having that fight happen whether it will or not depends completely on the Mayweather side,” Top Rank CEO Bob Arum recently told the media. “I can see it happening but I can't predict that it will happen because it takes two to tango."
In the past, issues over drug testing and a split of the purse have separated the two camps. While those problems seem to have been resolved, another impediment seems to be holding up a potential fight. Mayweather has a contract with Showtime, and Top Rank boxers, of which Pacquiao is one, fight on HBO. Arum, though, believes the situation can be worked ut.
"You've got to go back in history when Lennox Lewis, who fought for HBO, fought against Mike Tyson who was a Showtime fighter. Both networks participated in the promotion so that's a road map of how we get this thing done," he said.
If Pacquiao can’t get passed Rios, there’s no chance he’ll take on Mayweather. The undefeated boxer has already indicated that he doesn’t want to fight Pacquiao because of his two straight losses. Even if a defeat doesn’t put Pac-Man into retirement, he won’t get him a shot at the best the sport has to offer.
That leaves Rios, who isn’t likely to face Mayweather with a win, but it certainly would put him on the 36-year-old’s radar. Mayweather is under contract to fight four more times, so adding another big win to a defeat of Pacquiao could eventually get him in the ring with Mayweather.