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Pacquiao-Rios: What Exactly is on the Line?

by Sports Team
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios will be in for the fight of his life—both literally and figuratively - this coming Saturday, November 23 in Macau, when he goes against Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao. The Pacman, meanwhile, will try to redeem himself after two consecutive defeats - one via a controversial win by Timothy Bradley and another via a knockout win by his archrival Juan Manuel Marquez.

The Pacquiao-Rios bout is only days away and there's already a lot of talk going around about the boxers, specifically what's on the line - and it's not just the belt. Interestingly, both fighters are depicting themselves as the underdog. Here's a look at a more in-depth tale of the tape between the two sluggers.

More than Just a Belt for Pacman

You'd think that Brandon Rios will be the fighter with the most to prove in this upcoming bout. After all, it's the young boxer's first pay-per-view main event, his first time under the bright lights and under the microscope of boxing analysts. Even with 33 career fights, this will be Bam Bam's debut on the world stage. Whichever way fans and analysts look at it, though, a lot of the pressure is actually on Pacquiao.

Manny has been headlining title fights for years, so fighting for the vacant WBO international welterweight title should be nothing new to him. He has beaten some of the best fighters of his era and some of boxing's biggest names, including Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, Ricky Hatton, and Juan Manuel Marquez. He's also become one of boxing's most iconic stars, and even a hero to the Filipino people.

And yet, even with this legacy that's sure to land him a spot in the boxing Hall of Fame, it's Manny Pacquiao who's facing all the tough questions. The last image of Pacman, one imprinted in the brains of boxing fans all over the world, is him lying face down in the ring, courtesy of a right haymaker from Marquez in their last bout.

People want the old Pacquiao back, the one that made headlines, who knocked out Hatton in two rounds, who gave numerous Mexicans quite a beating, and who gave De La Hoya his career-ending fight. Many are hoping Pacquiao will make a statement and score a knockout win that's worthy of the highlight reel. It's a result his battered countrymen, at least, will be all too happy to see.

A Big Fight for Bam Bam

Even with the impressive record of Pacquiao, Rios is coming in strong, though. He's a no patsy, no fall guy. Just one look at his physique and you'll know he's legit and won't be coming to the ring to simply earn a paycheck.

Both fighters will be coming off a loss, with Rios having lost his last fight against Mike Alvarado in March. But, Rios has the biggest to gain if he wins this upcoming brawl. Obviously, he'll take a big leap in terms of his own star power and marketability in the boxing world. It's doubtful that Rios, even with a decisive win over Pacquiao, will move up to become a household name and to the mainstream level reserved for boxing's true draws, but he'll definitely get a big boost in visibility and name recognition. His future opponents and pay scale will also enjoy an improvement.

A Rios win over Pacquiao will likely double his future fight purses and make for some interesting fights soon, but a star won't be born, no matter who's hand is raised at the ring of the bell.

The fact that Pacman would still come out as the bigger star, even if he loses, is a lesson that popularity isn't all defined by a win or a loss, but by such non-magical concepts as publicity and marketability.

Both camps are all pumped up for the upcoming fight, and it's only a few days until we see who comes out on top. The Pacquiao-Rios fight takes place Saturday night, and whatever the outcome will be, it's one definitely worth watching.