When Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring with Brandon Rios, he won’t be fighting to impress. It’ll be about remaining relevant as a big-time, big-money PPV fighter, not to mention possibly resurrecting his career after two straight losses and one humiliating knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez.
The question whether or not Marquez has been using performance enhancing drugs doesn’t matter at this point. Pacquiao has dodged that bullet himself as he rose through the divisions unscathed, with title belt after title belt on his shoulder. It doesn’t seem like he or his training camp are looking for any excuses. They just want more fights, big as they can possibly get, in order to keep the gravy train running.
But what if Pacquiao is beyond the point of no-return? The one which a boxer crosses and can’t raise his game after anymore? There’s hardly an argument that Pacquiao was suppose to win the Timothy Bradley fight, something the judges messed up badly. In fact, he wasn’t doing too bad, in yet another close encounter, during the Juan Manuel Marquez IV fight, until he ran into a knockout punch during the sixth round.
The thing is, people look at the losses and they think the reason is that he’s getting old. That’s not the case, not from what I see. Look, we all thought he beat Bradley, so throw that out. And in the Marquez fight, I thought he was doing well and was looking like he was going to win by knockout when he made a mistake and ran into a shot. That happens. That’s boxing. It didn’t happen because his skills aren’t the same as they used to be. It happened because he made a mistake. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you can make a mistake.
Freddie Roach doesn’t think it’s over for Pacquiao. Not his career, and not even the chance to fight Floyd Mayweather. With Mayweather still in line to fight a few more times for Showtime, he believes that Pacquiao picking up impressive wins against Rios and whoever comes next will put him back on Mayweather’s radar, who doesn’t have that many opponents left to fight that are actually going to help keep him profitable for the network.
But thinking too far ahead has never been a good thing for anyone, including Pacquiao. That seemed to be the way for him, at least going in, with his recent fights. Thinking about Mayweather, while picking up another win (And usually not impressing too much) and another fat purse. Brandon Rios provides a chance to fight someone who opens up, which is what Pacquiao is waiting for, but with his focus on the sport being in doubt, there’s a chance that it might prompt the end of a brilliant career much faster than anyone anticipated a year ago.