Manny Pacquiao may no longer be at the top of his sport. The 34-year-old has lost two straight fights, albeit one a very controversial decision, and has not won a bout since 2011. Those struggles, though, are expected to end this weekend.
Pac-Man is set to take on Brandon Rios in Macau, China, on Saturday in an eagerly anticipated bout. Despite his recent defeats, Pacquiao is a heavy favorite to win the vacant WBO International Welterweight title. According to Las Vegas odds-makers and online sportsbooks, Rios doesn’t have much of a chance to upset the former champ of eight different weight classes.
The gambling website that has Pacquiao as the smallest favorite is Top Bet, which lists him at -450 and Rios as +340 underdog. Bovada.lv gives Rios with the least likely chance of pulling off the upset, putting his betting odds at +350 and Pacquiao’s at +500. VegasInsider, which takes the consensus odds from Las Vegas casinos, has Pacquiao at -460.
When the fight was first announced in early May, Pacquiao was made a heavy favorite. However, the public’s confidence in him has increased as the night of the fight gets closer. The opening betting odds placed Pacquiao at -400 and Rios at -300.
The last time Pacquiao stepped in the ring, he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round. Marquez, like Rios, was not expected to come out on top. Odds-makers viewed that as a much more difficult fight for Pacquiao, making him a -270 favorite.
Rios might want to think about Timothy Bradley, who defeated Pacquiao in June 2012. The current WBO Welterweight champ faced Pacquiao, who was given -450 odds for their fight. Bradley was fortunate, though, to be awarded the decision. Most experts felt Pacquiao outperformed Bradley. Judge C.J. Ross, who gave the decision to Bradley, stepped down this year after taking heat for also robbing Floyd Mayweather of a unanimous decision against Saul ‘”Canelo” Alvarez in September.
The most likely outcome might be a knockout for Pacquiao. Bovada.lv puts the odds of the fight lasting less than nine rounds at -175. Pacquiao hasn’t knocked out an opponent since he beat Miguel Cotto 2009, with Cotto going down in the final round. Rios suffered his first ever loss in March when Mike Alvarado beat him by unanimous decision. He’s 31-1-1 and has knocked out 23 of opponents.
Considering what happened to Pacquiao in 2012, it might not be a complete shock to see him lose. However, he’s an overwhelming favorite for a reason. Rios is bigger, but that’s about where his advantages end. Pacquiao is more elusive and should take advantage of Rios’s aggressive style. The 27-year-old tends to go on the attack and leave himself defenseless to power punches. He can get away with those mistakes against a lesser fighter, but that could make it an early night for him against Pacquiao.
Prediction: Pacquiao by KO in the 9th