The tune-up bout is done for Manny Pacquiao. He completely dismantled Brandon Rios on Saturday night in Macau, China. Now it is time for him to take on a much bigger challenge in his next bout.
Avenging losses to Timothy Bradley or Juan Manuel Marquez would be acceptable choices for Pac-Man. Of course, the boxing world will still cram for the greatest fight that never was—a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
While a Mayweather bout may be premature at this stage of Pacquiao's resurgence, there is no doubt that the next Pacquiao opponent should be a major name. Rios was handpicked because of his slow hands, feet and one-dimensional style.
The fight was a carbon copy of the Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito bout from 2010. Rios' skill set is very similar to Margarito's, and Pacquiao had his way in a similar fashion. The fights were so similar that the final scorecards were even identical. Against both Margarito and Rios, the three judges scored the fight 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110.
Perhaps the only difference was that Rios' face wasn't quite as disfigured as Margarito's at the end of the fight.
It made sense for Pacquiao's camp to arrange this type of fight coming off of a one-year layoff and such a devastating defeat at the hands of Marquez, but fans won't accept mediocre opponents for long. At some point, Pacquiao will need to do what Mayweather did in September and accept the challenge from one of the best fighters in the sport.
Mayweather boxed circles around Canelo Alvarez, a 23-year-old previously undefeated champion. Pac-Man won't get the glory and respect he needs from embarrassing Rios. If he hopes to regain his status as one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport, he'll need to beat someone on Alvarez's level or avenge one or both of his recent losses.
If he does that, he'll have established himself again as the only man with a realistic shot at defeating Mayweather. Ultimately, that's the fight most in boxing still want to see, but Pacquiao needs to restore his name before the fight matters as much as it would have four years ago
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