This fight was all about Manny Pacquiao. The last time we saw him in the ring, he was lying face down after being knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez. It wasn’t just a winning punch; it was a punch that changes a career. We were left wondering if he would ever be the same boxer again.
After his beatdown of Brandon Rios in Macau Saturday, some of the concerns about his impending retirement have been assuaged.
The result was a unanimous decision, but even the scorecard can’t show how lopsided the fight was.
Pacquiao never looked fazed and was in complete control for the duration of the fight. Even from the first round, it was apparent that Rios would need to land a knockout punch to escape with victory. The American fighter was absorbing blow after blow, and he wasn’t able to control the spacing to swing the fight in his favor.
Strong first round from Pacquiao. Lands at will. Rios is going to have to make this a street fight. Can't box with him.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) November 24, 2013
Rios fought back in the third round, landing a few of his own punches, but he never looked like he stood a chance in the match. He was completely outdone by Pacquiao’s quickness. Pacman may no longer be the same ridiculously explosive fighter that he used to be, but he still possesses blistering hand speed. Rios couldn’t keep up, and it showed in the punch counts.
According to CompuBox, Pacquiao landed an avgerage of 23 of 66 punches per round... Rios landed just 12 of 42 per round tonight— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 24, 2013
Furthermore, it wasn’t just speed where Pacquiao held a decisive advantage. The experience of his corner was evident as the fight progressed. He stuck to his game plan and managed to steer clear of Rios’ dangerous right as he had practiced all training camp with trainer Nick Roach.
Pacquiao firing combos and ducking to right to avoid Rios' TNT-packed right, a dance step he rehearsed ad infinitum with Roach during camp.— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) November 24, 2013
On the contrary, Rios had no counter for what Pacquiao was doing. His trainer, Robert Garcia, was calling for more head movement, but it never came.
Through seven, all Pacquiao. Rios's corner is begging for more head movement and more combinations. Easier said than done.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) November 24, 2013
To Rios’ credit, he showed his grit and toughness by staying on his feet throughout the fight. He hit the canvas once, but it wasn’t ruled as a knockdown because he slipped. Bam Bam endured all the punishment that Pacquiao could throw at him and lasted through Round 12.
It was all for naught, however.
The result was never in doubt, and Pacquiao made a statement with the commanding performance: He's back.
Pacquiao looked technically sound and in great shape, and he was clearly the best boxer in Macau. With the win, attention will be turned to what’s next on the schedule for both of these fighters.
For Rios, one of the potential bouts in his future is his third matchup against Mike Alvarado. For Pacquiao, there is already discussion about a rematch with Marquez, and there are calls for a rematch with Timothy Bradley so Pacman can avenge his controversial loss.
Don't be surprised to see Pacquiao-Marquez V next. Biggest (makable) money fight out there for both.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) November 24, 2013
Whatever happens, Pacquiao returned to form with the win, and he isn’t ready to hang up his gloves just yet. In fact, he may well finally get the chance to go toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather in the not-so-distant future.
Boxing fans can dream, can't they?