Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) may not be the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, but his straightforward victory over Brandon Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs) proved that his unrivaled quickness makes him a welterweight force.
The 34-year-old Pac-Man topped Rios via unanimous decision this past weekend in Macao, China, overwhelming the 27-year-old American challenger with his superior hand and foot speed. Although we knew coming in that the Filipino star was the more talented of the two fighters, the flashes of vintage Pacquiao were still awfully impressive.
Rios certainly didn't help his cause by walking into Pacquiao's onslaught, but it likely wouldn't have mattered in the end as the boxing icon displayed a peerless pace that reminded many of the man who won 15 consecutive fights over a six-year span.
Pacquiao launched nearly 300 more punches over the course of 12 rounds than his opponent, landing 281 of the 790 he threw, per CompuBox via SI.com. While Pac-Man's connection percentage (36 percent) wasn't phenomenal, his quickness allowed him to overwhelm Rios and do some real damage with the shots he landed.
Pacquiao was clearly the aggressor from the outset, landing 20 punches in the opening round compared to just five for Rios. The speed of Pacquiao's straight left hand would set the tone for the fight as he went on to land more than twice as many punches (281-138). The straight left was effective throughout and Rios was never able to find an answer.
The difference in quickness could be seen throughout the bout. While Pacquiao was able to connect consistently with clean shots, Rios was reacting late and caught mostly air with his big swings.
Pacquiao's footwork was also superb. He was able to sidestep many of Rios' punches and surprise the less-experienced fighter from different angles. This display of quickness gave Pacquiao more room for error and allowed him to take more risks.
But very few fighters in the world can handle what Pacquiao was dishing out in Macao. Defending against his quick hands and combinations can be tough, but a faster puncher with better reaction time would have in all likelihood been able to challenge Pacquiao and keep him honest.
So while Rios failed his toughest test to date, he can sleep well knowing that the better fighter won.
Overall, it was a clinical performance from one of the all-time greats, and one that is sure to give him confidence moving forward for his next fight.
Pacquiao's quickness and power are what propelled him to superstardom. And although his prestige has taken a major hit over the past 18 months, there's no denying that his superior speed makes him one of most feared men in boxing.
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