There were plenty of questions for Manny Pavquiao going into his bout last night (Sat., Nov. 23, 2013) with Brandon Rios at The Venetian in Macau, China:
How would he handle such a crushing knockout loss? Were his legs still sufficient to keep him out of reach of Rios' power shots? Could he handle a big, strong and fresh pressure fighter?
The answers, respectively, turned out to be "quite well", "most certainly" and "with ease."
Rios was game and was never in danger of hitting the deck, but Pacquiao put a vintage beating on him, using his superior speed and footwork to batter the bigger man for the full 36 minutes. While Pacquiao was taking a somewhat worrying amount of punches in the early going, things swung in the Filipino's favor in a big way following the fourth round. Pacquiao's combinations tore through Rios' guard and his effective circling kept "Bam Bam" from getting the angles he needed to land big.
Rios did have some success with his customary point-blank punches, but he rarely got Pacquiao in position to unload, generally eating a big left hand or combination as "The Fighting Pride of the Philippines" circled away unscathed. Though he didn't wind up looking as bad as Antonio Margarito after the final bell, he was still busted up something fierce despite entering the bout with a nine-pound weight advantage.
Pacquiao took home the win on sensible scorecards of 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110, the latter of which matched MMAmania's score.
Though it took him a bit to get going, Pacquiao certainly looked like someone who can still handle himself at the elite level. The question, of course, is how much competition he can find when Showtime and Golden Boy have a monopoly on the 140- and 147-pound divisions, including the likes of Adrien Broner, Marcos Maidana, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse and, of course, Floyd "Money" Mayweather. Only Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez remain as viable foes and neither is interested in fighting Pacquiao again.
No matter who he fights, though, he's still got it.
For Rios, this isn't a huge setback because he was a major underdog and he's still incredibly resilient and generally entertaining. The promotional issues exist for him, too, unfortunately. Pacquiao teammate Ruslan Provodnikov should make for an explosive battle, but Provodnikov might be unwilling to step back and fight someone who has lost two straight.