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Manny Pacquiao had enough to dominate Brandon Rios, but is he all the way back?
Manny Pacquiao answered a lot of questions with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Brandon Rios on Saturday night in Macau, China, but the big one remains: Is he all the way back?
That's a difficult question to answer, but let's give it a shot.
Many of the questions heading into this fight revolved around two central themes. Would Pacquiao be forever changed by the devastating knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez, and would he be able to channel the spirit of the mystical "old Pacquiao" and blitz through an opponent whose style seemed built for him.
The answer to the first question was a resounding no.
Pacquiao showed no reluctance to let his hands go and put together combinations against an opponent who was rugged, but he clearly couldn't handle his speed. The few times that "Bam Bam" was able to land clean, the Filipino icon seemed to take the punches well. So on that score, at least, thumbs up.
On the far more difficult question of channeling the "old Pacquiao," the results are more of a mixed bag.
Pacquiao made a name for himself as he rose through the ranks by being a buzzsaw. He'd shock his foe with fast, powerful and accurate punches from all sorts of angles. But as he's risen in weight, and gotten older, his punching power doesn't seem quite what it used to be.
He tagged Rios quite a few times with very hard shots but never appeared to have him in significant trouble.
The good news, however, is that he fought for three minutes of every round. He didn't fight in spurts, and he kept up a constant stream of punches to his opponent's head and body.
So to cobble it all together, if you were expecting the destroyer version of Pacquiao—circa 2006-2009—you're bound to be disappointed. Those days are gone.
What we have instead is a more patient, more systematic fighter who, while not what he was, is still extremely dangerous.