by Kieran Mulvaney
Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios - Photo Credit: Will Hart
All kinds of prognosticators are weighing in on this week's fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios. Many say that Pacquiao, the favorite, possesses a skill set that will simply outclass Rios. Others counter that Rios was built to absorb punishment, and that Pacquiao may still be haunted by the crushing punch that knocked him out against Juan Manuel Marquez last December.
But what do the real experts think? Here's how a selection of past and present fighters see the bout shaping up.
Terence Crawford (lightweight contender):
I've got to go with Pacquiao. Because Rios, he's going to take a lot of punishment coming in.
Ruslan Provodnikov (junior welterweight title holder):
To be honest with you, strategically, politically, it would be good for me if Brandon Rios won the fight. But I'm going to be rooting for Manny Pacquiao. I spent two months with him in training camp. We're very close. He's a great, great person, and I think that he will come back after his last fight, and he has still has a good amount of time left.
Mike Alvarado (junior welterweight contender, Rios opponent):
That's a really good fight. Rios is going to push Pacquiao. He's going to make him adjust. I want Rios to win that fight, so when our trilogy happens it's like, "Hey, he just beat Pacquiao." But I don't know. I don't think he's going to beat Pacquiao. I laid out the blueprint for how to beat Rios. Pacquiao's going to be like, "I can box, I can move, I hit hard." But then again, we're waiting to see how Pacquiao recovers after losing to Marquez. That was a punishing blow; it might have a big effect on his career. We'll see.
Nonito Donaire (featherweight contender and former three-weight title holder):
If Pacquiao can return to a Pacquiao with focus, he'll overwhelm Rios with power and speed. But if he goes in with a shadow of a doubt in his mind after what happened to him in his previous fight, then Rios can overwhelm him with intensity and pressure. But I think that Pacquiao has the best chance of winning this fight, if he even gets just 50 percent of his focus back.
George Foreman (former two-time heavyweight champion):
I think it's going to be a 12-round decision and I give Pacquiao the hometown decision. How about a home-region decision.
Sugar Ray Leonard (former five-weight world champion):
I think Pacquiao will win although I give Rios a shot, a big shot. It's not going to be an easy fight. I'm picking Manny because he is Manny Pacquiao.
Timothy Bradley (welterweight title holder):
I've got Manny Pacquiao by a mid to late round KO. Eight rounds.
Marco Antonio Barrera (former three-weight title holder):
I think it is a complicated fight for both of them. You have Brandon Rios who comes straightforward and will apply the pressure on Manny. Then you have Manny who moves around the ring very well and picks and chooses his spots and comes at different angles and is a very strong fighter with a lot of speed. It's just going to be a tough fight for both of them.