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Pacquiao vs Rios prediction: Expert trainer's preview and analysis

Joseph Herron Updated
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Tonight, from The Venetian Cotai Arena in Macau, China, Filipino Congressman Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) will make his long awaited return to the ring as he faces the always tenacious Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios (31-1-1, 22 KOs) in a twelve round grudge match for the WBO International Welterweight title. The special event is being promoted by Top Rank, Inc. and Sands China Ltd., in association with MP Promotions and Tecate. "Pacquiao vs. Rios" will be produced and distributed live by HBO PAY-PER-VIEW, beginning at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST.

Although the bout will formally be held for the minor strap, the real prize up for grabs is the Pac-man's status as one of the biggest draws in the sport, as well as his stature as one of boxing's elite.

Will one of the best inside fighters in boxing be able to close the distance and impose his will on the future Hall of Fame fight legend? To size up this highly anticipated Welterweight match-up, expert trainer James Gogue will analyze both fighters and outline their respective strategies.

"This is a very intriguing bout in which many factors will come into play," claims the three decade fight strategist."

The Lone Star State's James Gogue, center, is one of the best minds in boxing.

James Picture 1

"One of the best decisions Freddie Roach could have made for his fighter is to sit him out for an extended period of time after getting brutally KO'd in his last outing. "

"Although the Pac-man has had eleven months to mentally and physically heal from the damaging shot, the world has been speculating as to whether or not Pacquiao will be the same offensive minded fighter in the ring."

"Also there's been much discussion regarding Manny Pacquiao's desire to fight at the world class level. Does he still want to compete at the highest level of the sport? When you're at the elite level in boxing, fight fans expect the best to compete against the best. Does Manny still want to fight?"

"When facing a fighter who will test your will throughout every second of the twelve round contest, Manny is going to find out very quickly if he really wants to continue fighting in the most physically demanding sport on the planet."

"This is a great style match-up in which we will see Pacquiao adopt the role of matador once again. But he'll have to tame the relentless bull in Brandon Rios for twelve hard rounds. It's a task that is easier said than done."

Despite being knocked unconscious during his previous outing, most boxing pundits are anticipating a dominant performance from Manny Pacquiao against a seemingly slower, less athletic, and less experienced fighter in Brandon Rios.

Pacquiao vs Rios fight poster

406543 Pacquiao vs Rios Poster 032af

Brandon Rios
The strategic minded trainer sketches a gameplan for tonight's challenger from Garden City, Kansas.

"Brandon Rios is ostensibly up against it when pitted with a much more athletically gifted fighter like Manny Pacquiao. This match up is like the Oakland Raiders facing a team with an elite level quarterback who can dissect any opposing defense like Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos."

"To level the playing field, your going to have pressure the quarterback on each and every down. You have to hit him as much as you can and make him as uncomfortable as possible. If you give one of the greatest quarterbacks that has ever played the game time in the pocket, he will perform surgery on you from start to finish."

"That's what Brandon Rios will be facing on Saturday night."

To level the playing field against an elite level talent like Manny Pacquiao, Brandon has to cut off the ring effectively like Ray Lewis would cut off an opposing running back trying to escape around the line of scrimmage.

Courtesy of Top Rank

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"He has to anticipate his movement and not just follow around a devastating puncher like Manny Pacquiao."

"But Rios can't just walk straight in against an offensively potent fighter like the Pacman as soon as the bell rings."

"He has to get used to the hand speed and box him for the first round, or until his eyes get adjusted to the speed and movement of the eight division world champion. If he doesn't, Brandon could get hurt badly in the outset of this contest like Ricky Hatton did in 2009."

"Bam Bam will have to use touch jabs, feints, and a lot of upper body movement while he works his way inside of Pacquiao's defense. But he has to somehow make his way inside or he will get picked apart by the more athletically gifted fighter. He has to cut off Manny's reaction time and make it a short distance fight."

"If he is successful in closing the distance between the two fighters, Brandon will have to make the most of his time there. Rios is one of the best inside fighters in boxing. He throws beautiful uppercuts and short, compact hooks from various angles underneath an opponent's defense. The Oxnard, California resident will also have to limit the movement of Manny Pacquiao by working the body whenever he can."

"If Pacquiao can't escape Brandon's assault by using his footwork to slide out of trouble, Rios will have to make sure that he holds his elbows in nice and tight to keep Manny from tying him up on the inside."

Courtesy of Top Rank

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"If Brandon Rios can somehow level the playing field by closing the distance and making the fight a short-range contest, he could shock the world and hand Manny Pacquiao his third consecutive loss, as well as his retirement papers."

Although Gogue sees a definitive plan of action for the former WBO Junior Welterweight Champion, the experienced boxing mentor doesn't believe he will be able to execute his plot for destruction against an athletically-gifted fighting machine like Manny Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao
"In 2010, Manny Pacquiao fought another very proficient inside fighter in Antonio Margarito, and used brilliant lead left hands and right hooks to punish the aggressive Mexican fighter as he attempted to close the distance.

"When Margarito was successful in closing the distance, Manny would use his footwork to slide around him, ultimately taking the fight into the center of the ring. He did this over and over again until the hard charging fighter was beaten badly."


"I can see the same thing happening to Brandon Rios as well, if Manny is still capable of being 'Manny' in the ring."

"It's been a while since we've seen Pacquiao against a relentless aggressor in the ring...it's been three years to be exact."

"Most pundits have discussed Manny's apparent decline in the ring over the past several years. This is a bit misleading. One of the reasons why he hasn't enjoyed the kind of success he experienced between the years 2008-2010 is largely due to the fact that every opponent that he's faced over the last three years has elected to fight a more intelligent, tactical fight, rather than over committing in an aggressive manner."

"I think we will see Manny seemingly turn back the clock if Brandon performs in character tonight and adopts his customary role as the tenacious aggressor."

"When a fighter comes at Pacquiao aggressively, Manny has some of the best and most athletic footwork in boxing. The Pacman has the ability to change directions very quickly and move in and out of an opponent's defense at angles while firing off combinations of three of four punches at a time. He also has the ability to multi-task on the inside and duck out of harm's way while firing off his own arsenal of punches. "

"Pacquiao likes to use a solid jab and very sneaky counter right hook while an opponent is moving his way inside. He also throws a lethal right hook to the body as well as a beautiful right uppercut which ultimately sets up his left hand bomb down the middle. It's almost impossible to defend against when an opponent is preoccupied with the task of closing the distance."

"You will see Pacquiao use a very wide arsenal of punches in this fight to keep Rios off balance as he attempts to cut off the ring."

"Manny likes to throw the lead left hand, right hook, left uppercut, and then pivot while shoving his opponent with his last punch off to the side to keep him out of position to counter effectively."


"He will do this over and over again until he either knocks Brandon out or the referee steps in and calls a halt to the contest."

Despite seeing a clear advantage for the eight division world champion going into tonight's contest, James Gogue reminds every fight fan who intends to buy tonight's PPV that anything can and often does happen in the ring on fight night.

"Even though this match-up is seemingly tailor made for Manny Pacquiao, we really aren't sure which version of the Pacman will show up tonight against Brandon Rios. Will Manny be able to take shots like he used to before being knocked out cold against Juan Manuel Marquez? Will the Filipino icon have the same legs underneath him for twelve hard rounds against a relentless aggressor who throws a high volume of punches?"

"My prediction is that we will see Manny perform like the Manny of old tonight. Pacquiao is just too athletically-gifted for a fighter like Brandon Rios. I can see Manny picking apart the relentless aggressor as Rios attempts to close the distance and gets punished for nine grueling rounds."

Pacquiao vs Rios Prediction: Manny Pacquiao TKO 9 Brandon Rios
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