After Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2) defeated Brandon Rios (31-2-1) via unanimous decision Saturday night, it became clear that the he was not worthy of squaring off against boxing legend Floyd Mayweather yet.
Pacquiao’s victory must lead to a rematch with Timothy Bradley first.
The knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 and the split-decision defeat at the hands of Bradley in June of that year made it no secret that Pac-Man needed to come out fast and furious against Rios.
While Pacquiao was able to dominate all 12 rounds, he was unable to knock him out.
Those that watched the fight Saturday night saw a less-aggressive Pac-Man in the ring, but the style was very similar to the game plan he deployed against Bradley in the duo’s first matchup. He proved to be the faster, the stronger and the smarter fighter Saturday and must now turn his attention to avenging the loss to Bradley.
Bradley has been dominating the sport since his victory over Pacquiao. Not only is the American fighter’s record still unblemished, but he has also amassed huge wins over dangerous challengers like Ruslan Provodnikov and Marquez. His victories over the biggest names the division makes him one of the top prize fighters in the sport and makes this a rematch fans would actually pay to see.
If Pacquiao avenges the loss to Bradley, the talk about a superfight with Mayweather will heat up again.
Who should Manny Pacquiao fight next?
As seen in the first matchup, Bradley has the strength and the stamina to last the entire fight with his foe, while doing enough to earn the win on the judges’ scorecards. After such a controversial loss, the unique opportunity for Pacquiao to answer all doubts will be too enticing to pass up.
Just as promoter Bob Arum and the entire Top Rank team continued to go back to the Marquez well time after time, Pac-Man’s brain trust will see the hype around this potential rematch and book it immediately.
The Bradley camp will likely agree to this fight due to the financial implications that come with signing to fight a bona fide pay-per-view draw like Pacquiao and the chance to further cement his legacy.
The first chapter of this battle was a lackluster matchup that featured an ending few agreed with. The rematch, though, would be one of the most anticipated fights of the year; most didn’t see this welterweight development coming.