With November just around the corner, we have a lot to look forward to, thanks to Andre Ward’s imminent return to the ring. Ward will face off with undefeated challenger Edwin Rodriguez on November 16 in California (with the fight being shown on HBO), and he seems eager to get back into a fight. As quoted in an ESPN article by Dan Rafael, Ward said “I want to show the fans on Nov. 16 that I’m better than I am before I left.” Tantalizing words from a fighter who’s never lost, and about whom many have questions following the shoulder injury that sidelined him for a year.
But in anticipating this fight, it’s also important for boxing fans not to overlook the event that will truly headline the November schedule, which is Manny Pacquiao’s Nov. 23 bout with Brandon Rios in Macao. Pacquiao has not returned to the ring since being knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez, and going back further, to the Timothy Bradley loss (via a decision no one agreed with), Pacquiao is still riding a 2-match losing streak. No matter who the opponent is, this makes the fight on Nov. 23 arguably the biggest boxing event of the year, aside from Floyd Mayweather’s recent victory over Canelo Alvarez. So, let’s take a look at the match.
Pacquiao may be on a downturn, and is likely nearing the end of his career, but the odds are still resoundingly in his favor. Specifically, we checked in with the BetFair Exchange, an online sports betting platform with a section devoted solely to boxing. In listing the November 23rd fights, the site provides fixed odds for both Pacquiao and Rios (allowing users to place back or lay bets on either fighter), ant it’s safe to say Pacquiao has a decisive edge. Backing odds for Pacquiao are at 1/6, and for Rios are 4/1.
Naturally, Pacquiao’s legacy is on the line in this fight. We all know that boxing is an unforgiving sport when it comes to legacy – a single loss can make the difference between “all-time great” and “strong contender.” In a sense, Pacquiao’s legacy is already damaged – he could have escaped the Bradley fight with his reputation as the world’s best fighter intact, given the controversy over the decision, but the Marquez knockout was shocking and crippling. An upset loss to Brandon Rios would be the end for Pacquiao; a resounding victory, and we may yet hear one more surge of calls for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
Pacquiao is probably being a little underrated at this point. The Bradley fight can be scratched from memory, and Marquez landed one thunderous punch that altered Pacquiao’s reputation irreparably. But he’s probably still the 2nd best fighter in the world, and should dispatch Rios with relative ease.