Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring this Saturday night, in Macau, China, to face hard-hitting brawler Brandon Rios. Both fighters are coming off losses in their most recent fight, and Manny's was especially damaging as he was knocked out so bad in December by Juan Manuel Marquez he became about 1,000 memes. At stake is a small "international" WBO title belt, but, more importantly, neither fighter can afford another loss as both have lucrative rematches with Tim Bradley (for Manny) and Mike Alvarado (for Rios) waiting for them in the spring.
The fight will cost you a cool 70 bucks to watch in high definition on HBO pay-per-view, and here are five reasons why you should pay to see it:
1. Real Bad Blood
Alex Ariza was once Manny's "strength and conditioning trainer" alongside actual boxing trainer Freddie Roach. However, just because they were both #TeamPacquiao doesn't mean they liked each other. In fact, it's the complete opposite. Both lobbied behind doors for Manny to fire the other, and earlier this year Roach succeeded when Ariza was officially fired by the Pacquiao camp. So naturally, Brandon Rios' trainer Robert Garcia hired Ariza to be Rios' strength and conditioning coach. I know, it's all very petty, but that's the kind of stuff that happens in boxing.
Things finally came to a head this week when, in Macau, where the fighters are sharing a gym for training, a scuffle broke out between Roach and Ariza (and to a lesser extent Garcia). Ariza landed a pretty nice front kick on Roach after Freddie demanded everybody from the Rios camp "get the f*ck out" and even called one "f*cking Mexican" and another "f*cking Jew." What's that you say? You'd love to see all this madness? Well, lucky for you, some smart fellow in China recorded it all, and even did short interviews with those involved immediately after, which can be seen in the video above.
2. This Should Be A Great Fight
As much as Roach and Manny like to pretend Manny will box his way around the ring Saturday and every time he steps into the ring, eventually, instincts take over and Manny finds himself in a fight. Rios and his teams have no qualms about who or what he is, he's a fighter and he doesn't come to box, he comes to brawl. Try as he may, Manny won't be able to help himself and we should get some fireworks, whether Roach likes it or not.
3. This Is The Last "Big" Boxing Match Of The Year
There are some nice names that still have fights coming up, mainly Adrien Broner, but this is the last major boxing event of the year by far. Despite being destroyed by a Juan Manuel Marquez's right hand in December, Manny is still without a doubt the no. 2 boxing attraction in the world. And with the environment for the fight taking place in Macau, China, the bout should be soccer-game-crazy. Plus, all the good college football games will be over before Rios begins his ring walk.
4. It's Cheaper Than A Mayweather PPV
Only by $5, but still. If you're bored by the technical brilliance of Floyd's "boring" fights, then this should work for you. These guys are going to spend 12 rounds trying to knock the other out, and one of them will probably succeed. I know, "But you can stream it for free!" and that's fine. However, if you fork over some of your hard-earned money, you get to watch in full HD, with no lag or pop ups, and people will bring food and drinks to your house if they like you.
5. This Could Be The Last Time We See Manny Pacquiao Fight
When guys are hit so hard, they lay prone, facedown, unconscious on the canvas like Manny Pacquiao was last December, they almost never recover. Ask Roy Jones (twice), Paul Williams, Jermain Taylor and many, many others. A knockout like that just has its way of taking everything out of you.
If history has repeats itself with Manny, he would have little reason to continue to fight, having already proven himself ten times over. If Manny loses, or even wins while sustaining damage, there is plenty of reason to believe that he'll call it quits and move on to his life as a politician and never look back.
I am a firm believer that Manny Pacquiao is damaged goods. You just don't get knocked out like he did and recover. In theory, Manny should be able to outbox the slower Rios for 12 rounds and get an easy decision win, like Mike Alvarado did when he beat Rios in March.
But, Alvarado had to walk through Rios' power to do that, and Manny will have to do the same this Saturday to win, and I just don't see him doing it. I'm going with Rios by KO in the 8th round.