Convicted Artist Magazine

Feb 24th
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Manny-Pacquiao-vs-Brandon-RiosManny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios
Careful matchmaking is a whole different animal when a fighter becomes a big star.  You cannot ever take the easy fight.  Instead, you have to look for the fight that is simply less difficult.  Promoters are forced to employ a tactical search for an opponent that is: name, exciting, competitive, but not threatening, and close enough to the business, that he can draw a crowd on his own if he pulls off the upset.  Occasionally that has not been done in Pacquiao's case.  Clottey and Bradley were high-risk opponents with lower fan bases, but PacMan is so big a name now, that even 5 straight decisions, followed by a dubious loss and a brutal KO defeat will not hurt his numbers much.  

What Pacquiao needs badly is an exciting opponent who will not beat him unless he is truly finished.  In which case, Arum cannot lose, as it will save Brandon Rios' drawing power.  Bam Bam is still reeling from lowered expectations after 2 losses in his last 3 fights (Abril was a loss, no matter what the judges said).  Expect Rios to not do much better than David Diaz did against Pacquiao.  Although Rios is a better fighter, and Pacquiao is slipping, he is a fighter than will allow Manny to get back to basics.  Pacquiao outboxes Rios, and turns back the pressure to score a late round TKO, probably more on skin damage than chin damage.

Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
This fight could make a PPV attraction out of the winner.  Ironic in that both are on the downsides of their abilities.  Marquez, because of age, and Bradley because of damage incurred in his last two fights.  Bradley's will to win, combined with his lack of power, mean he puts a lot of miles on the odometer, every time he fights.  Marquez does just enough to lose competitively in the major fights, and without the lucky punch he landed against PacMan, he was probably on his way to doing so again.  Their histories show the outcome.  Bradley will overwhelm Marquez with activity, while being countered very effectively in spots.  I feel as if both men will taste the canvas from flash knockdowns, but we will see the final bell.  Bradley by close, controversial split decision, in an entertaining battle.

Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov
Who would have thought Top Rank's limited stable in 140-147lb range would have produced such good results?  The same 6 guys are fighting each other, and it's great news for the fans.  Alvarado gets his headlining date, at home, and against a fighter who is guaranteed action.  Alvarado and Provodnikov both seem to have decent chins, but the Russian has not really faced any other bombers yet.  He knows only one way to fight, while Alvarado can box or slug.  Sure, neither strategy looks very different from each other for the Denver fighter... it's pretty much the same aggression either moving backward or forward.  However, that difference means it will come down to whose punches have more effect.  If Alvarado keeps his head about him, and doesn't overdo it trying to please the hometown fans, we can still have an entertaining fight, where he has the best chance to win.  If I were Ruslan, I would fight my fight, but add in the elements of machismo, posing, roughing him up, do anything to get Alvarado to trade with you.  I predict it will work sometimes, but not enough.  Alvarado by UD.

Chris Strait


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