Pacquiao vs. Rios: Crushing Loss Will Not Derail Bam Bam's Career

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2013

MACAU - NOVEMBER 24:  Manny Pacquiao (L) of the Philippines hugs Brandon Rios of the U.S. after their 'Clash in Cotai' WBO International Welterweight title fight on November 24, 2013 in Macau.  (Photo by Nicky Loh/Getty Images)
Nicky Loh/Getty Images

Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios took punch after punch for 12 punishing rounds during a grueling loss to Manny Pacquiao. That type of debilitating beating is hard to bounce back from, but Rios will put the defeat behind him.

Not only did Rios fail to score a major victory over the returning Pacquiao, he could not gain the upper hand in a single round. Boxing announcer Rich Marotta was ever harsher in his assessment.

Although Bam Bam received a few sympathy points from two of the judges, Pacquiao still won by a lopsided unanimous decision.

Pacquiao took open season on Rios, landing 281 of his 790 punches over the course of the fight. After a particularly pummeling fifth round, Rios was fortunate to last the full 12 frames and avoid a more humiliating knockout loss.

As bad as the evening was for Rios, though, this should only be viewed as a temporary setback for the young fighter's career.

As cruel as it sounds, Rios was essentially set up to fail in Macau, China. While the 27-year-old entered the bout at 31-1-1, he had not faced anyone near Pacquiao's caliber. Pac-Man wasn't the only one trying to avenge a loss, either, as Rios fell to Mike Alvarado in March.

Rios is not one to shy away from a punch if it helps him land one later. That aggression has done wonders for him in the past, but it proved to be a recipe for disaster against Pacquiao.

MACAU - NOVEMBER 24:  Manny Pacquiao (R) of the Philippines fights with Brandon Rios of the U.S. during their 'Clash in Cotai' WBO International Welterweight title bout on November 24, 2013 in Macau.  (Photo by Nicky Loh/Getty Images)
Nicky Loh/Getty Images

Before the two faced off, Pacquiao admitted in a conference call that Rios' approach was exactly what he sought out in an opponent. Pacquiao, climbing up there in age at 34, did not have to spend too much energy tracking his adversary down.

Here's what he said, via the Miami Herald's Santos A. Perez, before the fight.

“That’s what I want, his style of fighting,” Pacquiao said. “He likes to come inside and I like that style. I don’t like to chase and I’m pretty sure I won’t have to chase him.”

He certainly did not have to chase Rios, who kept his head up throughout the fight and even stuck his tongue out after receiving an especially thunderous strike during the fifth round. He probably should have put his gloves up instead.

Rios was given a gigantic chance to steal the spotlight, but the overwhelming underdog never stood much of a chance. Despite losing his previous two fights, Pacquiao is simply a better boxer.

There's no shame in that. Rios put himself to the ultimate test and came out standing. He displayed exemplary resolve just by avoiding a knockout, and that toughness should guide him in future bouts.

All he has to do is look at Pacquiao to realize that two successive losses is not the end of the world. After a big win, Pacquiao quickly and decisively shifted the narrative from "Should he retire?" to "What's next? Will he finally fight Floyd Mayweather?"

Against a more manageable opponent, Rios will rebound, using this trumping as a learning experience. His future remains bright despite getting his lights punched out by Pacquiao.