Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao dominated Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios in the Filipino's first fight since his 2012 knockout loss at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, and the result showed that Pac-Man is back at the top of his game.
He put on a clinic against Rios, winning a unanimous decision. He used his superior speed and footwork to keep Rios off balance the entire fight, although Pacquiao's circling strategy really made the difference.
Rios, a powerful fighter, was never able to get great angles on Pacquiao. With Pacquiao constantly moving around Rios, it was difficult for Bam Bam to square him up. This resulted in hits that didn't land as forcefully as they were thrown.
Pacquiao got a few strong shots in himself, and Rios was badly beaten up after the final bell sounded. The final scores for the bout were 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110.
After not recording a victory since 2011, Pacquiao needed to win this fight for multiple reasons. For one, it keeps the possibility of a fight with Floyd "Money" Mayweather alive. Outside of that, it also means that Pacquiao is back on the map in the boxing world.
His previous two fights did not end well. The knockout at the hands of Marquez was the end result of a well-fought bout, but it wasn't the way Pac-Man wanted to bounce back from the contentious loss to Timothy Bradley. A controversial split decision did Pacquiao in, even though many believed that he was deserving of the win.
It's not as if he fought poorly in those bouts. The judges robbed him against Bradley, and he fought a decent fight against Marquez. The fact that he couldn't record wins was concerning, though, and those concerns seem to have subsided—for now—after dominating Rios.
Rios, a much younger and more powerful boxer, figured to give Pac-Man a big-time test. Given Pacquiao's recent results, many boxing fans believed Rios had a legitimate shot against one of the best fighters in the world.
He silenced his doubters, though, even if it took him a few rounds to find his groove. He was unstoppable once he got it all together.
After a fifth round that saw Pac-Man land 22 of 40 punches, it was smooth sailing. He toyed with Rios, constantly bouncing around the ring and landing punches from all angles. As I mentioned before, this prevented Rios from getting angles for himself.
Pac-Man fought a complete fight against Rios, and even though Pacquiao won't overpower his opponents, his strategies and blinding speed will keep him competitive in the sport. After two disappointing results in his previous fights, Pacquiao proved that he is back at the top of his game against Rios.
Other fighters beware.