Since Manny Pacquiao is coming off such a huge knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in his last fight, you have to figure he will have at least some doubts in his mind as he enters the ring to face Brandon Rios on Saturday night.
No matter what a fighter says, coming back after such a shattering knockout has to leave some lingering impact, be it physical or psychological, especially since Pacquiao is not returning from a year off to face a journeyman opponent. He is facing Rios, who is the underdog to be sure, but still a quality fighter with a good chin, big heart and experience.
Perhaps the best game plan out of the gate would be for Rios (31-1-1, 22 KOs), an aggressive pressure fighter, to immediately jump on Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) and immediately answer those questions about where he is after the knockout loss.
Rios, however, rejected that idea.
“No, we cannot do that,” he said. “We can’t go in the ring and think he’s going to be like that from the last knockout. We don’t know how he is personally. We have to go in there and wait and wait and wait and see what he has because he is still a dangerous opponent. Pacquiao is always going to be dangerous, so I can’t go in there and jump on him to see if he's done with.
“I'm not thinking like that. I'm going in there with a great game plan. [Trainer] Robert [Garcia] has a great game plan, and his dad [Eduardo Garcia] is also helping us out. So we have a great game plan going into the fight and I have to follow instructions and stick to the game plan and I think we should be ready.”
Robert Garcia did not rule out the jump-right-on him strategy entirely, however.
“That is something that everybody expects us to do, and we just might do that,” Garcia said. “We don’t know what Pacquiao has coming out. But we also have to be smart. We just can’t jump in there and think we are going to be the better guy that night. No, we have to be ready for the best Pacquiao. For him, it’s do or die so we have to be ready for the best Pacquiao.
“We can’t go in there thinking it’s going to be easy. Our game plan has turned out really good. If Brandon follows instructions and does everything we tell him to do, the sparring partners have been very helpful, so we should come out with good results.”