For Paquiao, Another War, Another Day at the Office

November 19, 2013,  --- Manny Pacquiao works out at The Venetian Macao Resort in Macau, China before his fight against former world champion Brandon
November 19 2013 Manny Pacquiao works out at The Venetian Macao Resort in Macau China before his fight against former world champion Brandon Bam Bam Rios Chris Farina Top Rank

Almost twelve full months have passed since Manny Pacquiao’s devastating knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in his last appearance to date, and the image of Pacquiao falling face-first onto the ring apron has secured a special place in his personal highlight reel.

For some, it came to symbolize the fall of an idol, the beginning of the end for one of boxing’s most aggressive and entertaining fighters in recent memory. For others – a small but vocal minority – the knockout was simply a minor bump in an otherwise glorious road to a Hall of Fame career, a perfect storm of a punch thrown blindly and landing just perfectly as his conqueror pounced forward with his entire body to support a punch that Pacquiao, in turn, almost leaped into.

I happen to count myself among the latter.

Watching the mighty Pacman’s frightening canvas-bound nosedive with his arms dangling to the side without even attempting to halt his own fall, it’s easy to forget how dominant he had been so far in that same fight, and how close he may have been to a stoppage win (either by KO or on cuts) had the fight progressed just a few more minutes.  And his next fight was a loss only on paper, as he dominated Timothy Bradley with his higher punch output and superior power, only to be denied the victory on the scorecards.

That performance should have been enough to convince the world that Pacquiao, who is one month shy of his 35th birthday, still has more than enough to beat a younger opponent who throws tons of punches and is always in great physical condition. And yet, here we are, still wondering if Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) has enough gas in his tank to beat former WBA lightweight titlist Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs), a guy who throws punches in bunches, yes, and who is also young and tough, but who is not always in top condition and is completely untested at 147 lbs.

Surely, the perception that Pacquiao has lost some of his old zap is understandable, given that he has been unable to score a full 10-count KO since he flattened Ricky Hatton in 2009. But in Rios, he has the chance to regain some of his old luster with another grinding performance in the mold of his brutal TKO victory of Miguel Cotto. The fact that Rios is making his debut at 147 should provide even further evidence that the fight is headed to an early finish, as Pacquiao has been known for taking on bigger men with a great rate of success.

November 23, 2013, Macau, China  ---  Manny Pacquiao and former world champion Brandon
November 23 2013 Macau China Manny Pacquiao and former world champion Brandon Bam Bam Rios pictured weigh in Pacquiao 145 lbs Rios 1465 lbs at The Venetian Macao Resort in Macau China Friday morning for their upcoming mega fight Chris Farina Top Rank

This time, though, victory will definitely come with a price. Pacquiao knows very well that this fight is intended solely for the purpose of showcasing his recovery and selling his next big fight, which could be a rematch against Timothy Bradley, a fight against recently crowned WBO junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, or maybe just keeping his career alive while waiting for that dream fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. But if Pacquiao fails to impress against Rios, his power at the negotiation table will be severely diminished, and he may even choose to stay fighting in China (a most profitable proposition, since he gets to avoid the 40% in taxes that he pays in the U.S.) while keeping his seat in Congress warm in between fights, in his wait for a bigger role in the Philippines’ political arena.

In this scenario, expecting a safety-first performance from Pacquiao is not the best idea. Fighting for his career, in front of many of his countrymen, with the pressure of having to put the memory of his dramatic KO loss behind, and inspired by the recent disaster that destroyed large regions of his homeland, my bet is that we’ll be savoring once again the sight of a vintage Pacquiao strutting his way into a dominant victory that will place him once again where he belongs.

All he has to do is get through another war, which in his case, is just business as usual.

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Diego Morilla
Diego Morilla is a boxing writer since 1992. His work has been extensively featured in some of the most prestigious boxing media outlets in Latin America and the U.S., including, The Ring, Latino Boxing,, Lo Mejor del Boxeo,, HBO Sports and newspapers such as El Mundo, Primera Hora and El Vocero, among others.