The much-anticipated WBO welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios is less than a week away. The two hard-punching boxers have been preparing for several months for Saturday's bout in Macau, China.
The countdown and tension leading up to the fight is understandable. Pacquiao, who had previously dominated nearly all challengers, will be looking for his first victory in two years. The 34-year-old lost his last two bouts, and though one resulted in a very controversial decision, there are some that doubt whether he can still compete at an elite level.
Pac-Man, though, still has the tools to be one of the best fighters in the sport. The Filipino star is considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of his generation with victories over Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Miguel Cotto.
Below are three things he must do to beat "Bam Bam" Rios, a Texas native who is regarded as fierce and determined puncher.
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If the fight goes the distance, the odds of Pacquiao coming out on top get even better. Rios is very offensive-minded, often looking to land the big blow. His strategy has worked more often than not, knocking out 23 of his 33 opponents. However, that could backfire against Pacquiao. Rios's aggressiveness could leave vulnerable to power punches, which would allow the veteran Pacquiao to take advantage.
Don't exchange punches at close range
In June 2012, Timothy Bradley beat Pacquiao to win the WBO Welterweight title. He claims that in order for Rios to accomplish the same feat, he must get go toe-to-toe with Pac-Man.
“Rios, if he is going to have a chance to beat Pacquiao he is going to have to close the distance” Bradley said via boxingnews24.com. “He is going to have to get close, stay close and punch. Pacquiao has a tendency to stay on the ropes with his hands high and stay in position to allow opponents to punch him at times and that will work in Rios’s favor.”
Rios is skilled with uppercuts and can disrupt Pacquiao's rhythm by keeping the pressure on him. When Pacquiao is elusive he is very hard to beat. Staying on the move and away from Rios is a smart game plan.
Deviate from strategy
Pacquiao is going up against a big-time puncher, but one that doesn’t have nearly the same amount of experience. Pac-Man should be able to exploit the fact that he has more in-ring smarts than Rios. By mixing things up, he can keep the 27-year-old off balance and control the fight. Even if he doesn’t have the athleticism that he once possessed, Pacquiao’s savvy instincts should be enough for him to win the bout.
“Brandon Rios needs to be intelligent in the ring, protect himself at all times because he doesn’t know where these hits are coming from,” said former boxer Roberto Duran. “Manny Pacquiao is not finished in my eyes and I still believe he is one of the world’s most dangerous fighters in the world.”