On November 22nd, Manny Pacquiao returns to fight Brandon Rios at the Cotai Arena in Macao, China. Right now, Pacquiao sits as a strong (-450) favorite, with the comeback on Rios at (+360) on 5Dimes Sportsbook. Do not expect the line to move much, as Rios is not a huge draw and few experts see him as more than a hand picked opponent as Pacquiao tries to get his career back on track. Rios is a former WBA World Champion as a lightweight, and this fight is contracted at welterweight, so Rios has moved up two weight classes. Pacquiao also has bulked up over his career, but he has been fighting at 147 for a while now and it is Rios who will be in new territory. Pacquiao has obviously shown power at this weight, but it remains to be seen if Rios’ retains in his punches at this new division. If Rios cannot hurt Pacquiao, he is going to be in for a long day. Pacquiao’s style is unlikely to change, in that he will come forward, use a lot of movement and he will be throwing strikes with precision and force. Rios is 31-1 and has never been knocked out while collecting 23 KO’s of his own. He is used to being able to hurt his opponents, and if he can’t hurt Pac-man, his style likely means that Pacquaio will be winning rounds. Rios will meet Pacquiao head on, which is why he was picked for the fight in the first place. One other factor is hunger. Roughly 18 months back, Pacquiao was in the running as the undisputed best boxer on the planet. Since then, two losses, a near divorce from long time wife Jinkee, a growing political career and calls for his retirement may have dampened some of the fire inside of Pacquiao. This is where Rios’ really does have a chance. Rios is fiery, and to use the old boxing term, ‘game’. Rios loves a fight and if this turns into an ugly war of attrition, Rios has a chance at a magical moment in his career if he can dig down deep and find the will to persevere and win. It is a tall order, but if Pacquiao, now 34 years old, is missing that little extra bit of desire, then Brandon Rios has a chance.
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