The International Welterweight title is up for grabs as Brandon Rios and Manny Pacquiao look to redeem themselves after both suffering losses in their last fight. The boxing odds may heavily favor Pacquiao, but where is the value for us sports bettors?
Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KO's)
Bam Bam Rios TKO'ed the previously undefeated Mike Alavarado a year ago to claim the WBO Latino Light Welterweight title. Stop. Before I go on can I just state for the record that there are too many organizations with way too many championships? I mean seriously, the Latino Light Welterweight championship? Perhaps there's an IBF Middle-Age Jack Daniels title for which I might be eligible? But I digress.
Okay, so Rios came, he saw and he conquered with a big gold belt around his waist that still wasn't a world championship but a step in the right direction. However, Alvarado paid him back five months later in the rematch when he earned a narrow unanimous decision over the Light Welterweight Latino king. Rios now gets the legendary Pac Man to stand mano-a-mano with him on Saturday, November 23rd. Sounds almost like a reward for losing but nevertheless this should be a compelling fight and one that will either cement the 27-year-old's reputation as one of the best in the world or expose him as a high-priced gatekeeper in the welterweight class.
Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO's)
Pac Man is in unchartered waters after losing his last two fights, with the most recent being a sixth-round knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez for the WBO "Champion of the Decade" belt (I'm not commenting, merely shaking my head). Pacquiao must be waking up in a cold sweat that he could never come to terms with Money Mayweather's camp and a Fight of the Millennium bout that would have seen him rake in more dough than Domino's.
However, that's in his rearview mirror for now but the gild is most definitely off that lily forever. Pacquiao needs to reestablish himself not only as one of the best in the division but the best ever if he is to continue to warrant these PPV events which provide these colossal paydays. Pacquiao will be training in his native Philippines for this fight that is to take place in Macau, China. It will be his first battle outside the United States since 2006 when he scored a unanimous decision over Oscar Larios to retain the WBC International Super Featherweight title.
Some say the loss of strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, allegedly fired by Freddie Roach, will be a notable advantage for the challenger who has hired him to train for this fight. Perhaps Ariza can give Rios both the edge physically and mentally over Pacquiao.
Strange things happen to fighters when they get knocked unconscious, particularly those of the world class variety who have survived excessive punishment using a skilled blend of deception, feinting, uber fast-twitch muscles and counterpunching. We can look back at the Baddest Man on the Planet Mike Tyson and view his slow decline after Buster Douglas shocked the world and proved Iron Mike could be broken. Tyson was never the same and as Pacquiao advances towards middle age, the inevitable decline may have already taken hold.
Pacquiao lost a brutal 12-round battle to Timothy Bradley (a fight everyone but two of the three judges had Pac Man winning) and then proceeded to get iced by his nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in December of last year. Pacquiao certainly has the chops to make life miserable for any fighter, even one as talented as Brandon Rios who is almost seven years his junior.
It's not often I see a betting odds underdog that looks like it's got as much bite as it does bark but that's exactly what I see here. Rios is a brawler who will hurt Pac Man and from what I have seen recently, the Mexicutioner doesn't take the heat like he used to.
I'll turn my lonely eyes to Bet365.com who will return to me a hearty +400 on my money in my sports picks for what should be a thrilling Saturday night in November.