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What To Look For: Pacquiao v. Larios

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On Saturday night (Sunday morning in the Phillipines), Manny Pacquiao will take on Oscar Larios on PPV. Pacquiao is coming off of a win over Erik Morales in their January rematch, and Larios is stepping up in weight after being knocked out in the third round against Israel Vazquez last December.

That sort of gives away the favorite even if you didn't know who either guy was: Pacquiao is heavily favored to win, and most assume he'll knock Larios out in short order. He's got the home turf, where he's a cultural icon, and he's stronger and quicker than Larios.

That said, I don't see Larios being a total pushover, for several reasons. We know Oscar Larios can fight, for one, and that he's a tough fighter, for another thing. He's going to have to absorb some punishment, and given his last fight, it is certainly hard to see him beating Pacquiao without landing that perfect punch or without Pacquiao simply beating himself.

And I think that will almost certainly be the bigger issue: Pacquiao cannot lose this fight. He has a November 18 rubber match with Erik Morales signed and set, and a loss to a guy like Larios would be catastrophic for Pacquiao. Again, I don't think Larios is exactly a tomato can, but this fight is set up for Pacquiao to get a win before taking on Morales again, simple and plain. He is expected to and should beat Larios.

But as much as I do think Larios can put up a fight and make a decent showing for himself against Pacman, I honestly can't see a scenario where he wins unless it's Pacquiao not being in shape or completely overlooking him in favor of that third showdown with Morales in November. It could very well be an entertaining fight, but I think it's likely that Larios gets worn down sooner rather than later and Pacquiao scores a rather decisive KO victory. Score another one for Pacman and his legion of fans.