This Sunday November 24, Philippine boxing icon Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao tangles with Brandon ‘Bambam’ Rios at the plush Cota Arena in Macau. With the WBO welterweight crown at stake in this 12-round bout, the fight will be of crucial importance to both fighters. A win in this blockbuster event will open the gates to boxing’s high heavens.
2012 was a horrendous year for Manny. He uncharacteristically absorbed two consecutive losses: the first by a controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley; and the second one by a nightmarish knockout to his arch-rival, Juan Manuel Marquez.
The second one was excruciatingly more painful, coming with just a second left in that fateful 6th round, and JuanMa’s nose bloodied and broken. With JuanMa desperately trying to breathe through his mouth, not a few were predicting then that it was just a matter of time before the Mexican warrior would wave the white flag.
But things were just not meant to be. Manny walked right into a picture-perfect right straight, rendering him unconscious even before he hit the canvas. To the utter disbelief and shock of the entire Filipino community.
Bambam, on the other hand, is coming from a heartbreaking first-ever loss to fellow Mexican-American Mike Alvarado last March.This bull-strong warrior’s steady rise to fame and fortune was stymied a bit by that defeat, but his blood-and-guts fighting style has endeared him to the millions of boxing fans around the world.
A second consecutive loss will pull Bambam down from the ranks of the near-elite to that of mere mortals. A win however will put him on a level reserved only for boxing’s super names.
I have no doubt in my mind that we will see Manny beating the daylights off the swaggering Bambam. This bout will be reminiscent of Pacquiao’s methodical destruction of David Diaz for the lightweight crown in 2008. Bambam will see the fists, but he will be unable to cope with the speed, the style and the savvy of the comebacking Manny.
Bambam’s ‘damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead’ style is tailor-made for Manny. Despite Bambam’s much-vaunted granite chin, things will be far different this time. If he withstood the ping-ping-boom of Alvarado’s jab-jab-straight, he’ll have his hands full with Manny’s staccato of huge bombs which will go boom-boom-wagham!!!
Except for his twin-fight epic with Alvarado, Bambam hasn’t really been tested yet. Sure, there were such names as Abril, Murray and Antillon in his list of fallen victims, but do these names really ring a bell? And even the Alvarado fights happened at the light-welterweight division, not at the more heavy-handed welterweight category. I see Manny finishing him off in the middle rounds, as Bambam gets frustrated and tries to throw telegraphed haymakers.
What’s next for Manny? Everyone who loves Manny will point to Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez as the top choices for his next bout. But if these two continue to run away with their tails between their legs, the best option would have to be a rematch with Tim Bradley.
There’s another interesting fight that could loom on the horizon, but if Coach Freddie Roach will have his way, this fight will never happen. That’s against the fearsome new Roach protege, newly-crowned WBO junior welter champ Ruslan Provodnikov.
Anyone among the four would be exciting dance partners for Manny next year. Who will it be? Your guess is as good as mine.
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