Manny Pacquiao put a two-year victory drought to bed by securing a convincing win via unanimous decision over Brandon Rios on Saturday night.
In his first fight since last December, a refreshed Pacquiao went to work in Macau, China. With a returned kick to his step, he seized control from the opening round and did not ease up until the final bell.
Although the final decision was left to the judges, there was no way they could botch this outcome. It was clear to everyone that Pacquiao would once again have his hand raised in triumph after exhibiting a clinic over Rios to win the vacant WBO international welterweight title. The lopsided final scorecards backed that up.
Rios took a beating through 12 rounds, but the aggressive opponent kept coming back for more. As a result, Pacquiao landed more than twice as many punches.
|Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios Fight Stats|
|Punched Landed||Punches Thrown||Percentage|
|CompuBox (via ESPN.com)|
Let's take a closer look at each of the 12 rounds that led to Pacquiao shaking off his two-fight losing streak.
Pacquiao wasted no time proving he was back and ready to roll.
The 34-year-old came out swinging, employing his signature speed to create problems for Rios. Pacquiao eased into the fight with some jabs before whipping the crowd into a frenzy with a pair of left hooks. Rios fell down on one knee, but the official ruled it a slip rather than a knockdown.
Nevertheless, Pacquiao showed more than enough to convince viewers, including Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, that his ferocious attack was too much for Rios to handle.
Pac-Man landed a whopping 20 punches, while Rios only touched him with five. From Rios' perspective, it didn't get much prettier from there.
As much as Rios tried to gain some steam, Pacquiao maintained an even tighter grip on this fight.
The pace quickened, and Rios came out swinging, but his face again served as a canvas for more Pacquiao punches. This time, he orchestrated a string of combo punches on Rios, who went for body blows throughout the round.
Rios displayed his strongest showing of the evening, but it still was not enough to overcome his relentless opponent.
He trapped Pacquiao on the ropes and landed a strong left uppercut, but Pacquiao managed to squirm out. The two sluggers continued to trade punches, which continued to work in Pacquiao's favor.
Although Rios had his moments, it was another round for Pac-Man, who landed 17 punches to Rios' 16 in the closest stanza of the evening.
Rios kept swinging, but Pacquiao's quickness often led to those punches hitting air.
While Pacquiao took more body shots, he also flustered Rios by thwarting many of his hooks. The distance between the fighters continued to widen as Pacquiao befuddled Rios, who could not stop the onslaught of power punches.
After the one-third mark, Pacquiao had already landed 39 more punches than "Bam Bam."
If they were still not convinced that Pacquiao had returned to old form, the fifth round put those doubters to rest.
He landed 22 punches throughout the frame, including a devastating left hook in the opening minute. Bam Bam took the hit in stride, even playfully sticking his tongue out. Still, that had to have hurt.
That sums up the entire fight. Pacquiao pummeled Rios, who stood there and prodded his foe for more. Rios displayed toughness while taking such a licking, but the damage continued to accumulate.
This round only opened the floodgates for more carnage.
At this point, the only thing in question was whether Pacquiao would win by decision or knockout.
It looked like Pacquiao could finally send Rios down for the count this round to obtain his first KO in four years, but a stubborn Rios remained upright through another slew of scorching strikes.
Pacquiao bloodied Rios under his left eye in a bout that grew harder to watch. Midway through the match, things looked too easy out there for Pac-Man.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, the punching discrepancy continued to climb even further at the halfway mark.
Hungry for a knockout, Pacquiao escalated his attack, landing 33 punches during another torturous slate for Rios.
The swelling was evident on Rios' face, which spent the round operating as a moving punching bag for Pacquiao. Unfortunately, Rios was no more elusive than the inanimate object.
According to ESPN's Dan Rafael, trainer Robert Garcia pleaded with Rios to protect himself better in the ring.
Given Bam Bam's unabashed aggression and willingness to take a beating, it never happened. Catching Pacquiao with one big punch was the only way Rios could possibly escape Macau with a victory.
Rios' battered left eye became a bull's eye for Pacquiao, who spent the round diligently working away at the ailment.
Although Pacquiao eased up on the accelerator, he still maintained control with a healthy offering of shots to the eye. After the third round, this was the closest series of the fight, but it was not nearly enough to carry Rios back into the competition.
Pacquiao closed out the imperfect round well to ensure the advantage and set up four more frames in his favor.
After a momentary hiccup in the prior round, Pacquiao quickly returned to dominating Rios with many thunderous blows to test his opponent's resiliency.
Another chance for a knockout ensued when Pacquiao delivered a flurry of combinations that provided even more damage to Rios' head.
Rios received a warning for taking a shot to the back of Pacquiao's head, which Pac-Man had brought to the official's attention earlier in the bout. The beleaguered Rios was trying anything at that point to find lightning in a bottle, but a motivated Pacquiao wouldn't even surrender a single round.
With only three rounds remaining, Rios' chances of winning dwindled to nearly impossible. At this juncture of the fight, he appeared hopeful to at least survive the full card.
Pacquiao chipped away some more at his bloodied target, who still wouldn't go down.
Rios attempted to gear up for an improbable rally with some of his best blows of the evening, but it proved too little, too late.
The pace slowed down as a gassed Rios tried desperately to pull a trick out of his bag, but there was no magic left in his fists. Pacquiao was not quite as dominant as in the other rounds, but he still held the upper hand.
Mercifully, this fight finally reached its conclusion.
Rios somehow stood on his feet through 12 rounds, but he paid the piper. Pacquiao landed some more jabs for good measure to finish a resurgent evening on his part. For the first time in two years, Pacquiao was on his way to earning a triumph.
Of course, he can attest to never knowing what will happen when the outcome is left to the judges.
Luckily, they handed Pacquiao the obvious victory, cementing his successful return in a rousing effort for the new champion.
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