MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao marked his return to the win column with an impressive performance against Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios Sunday in Macau, and the victory showed that the “Pacman” still has plenty left in the tank.
Coming off back-to-back losses – including a knockout at the hands of Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez – Pacquiao faced tremendous questions entering his fight against the hard-hitting Rios. But he let his fists do the talking in their 12-round fight, which he won via unanimous decision.
“In the aftermath of a horrifying knockout loss to Juan Manule Marquez last December, questions about whether Pacquiao would be the same fighter lingered,” Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated wrote after the “Clash in Cotai.”
“But while Pacquiao is not the same human wrecking ball he was through 2009, he proved against Rios that, at 34, he still has plenty left,” he added. “Boxing brilliantly, Pacquiao moved in, out and around Rios, peppering him with combinations, bruising his face with thudding power shots. It was an easy fight to score… with little controversy.”
Brian Campbell of ESPN wrote: “With the alternative being a third straight loss and possible retirement, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Manny Pacquiao is back following his 12-round whitewash of hard-charging Brandon Rios.”
Like Mannix, Campbell noted that Pacquiao may not have been as destructive as he was in 2009, when he routinely beat up bigger opponents, but it was still an impressive performance considering the stakes.
“In his first fight following a scary, one-punch knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez last December, coming off the longest layoff of his career, it wasn’t too shabby,” wrote Campbell.
“Pacquiao simply had his way with the one-dimensional Rios, establishing himself early to the body before continuously peppering the Mexican-American fighter with combinations upstairs en route to an easy, unanimous decision win,” he added.
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said prior to the fight that he will advise the Filipino to retire should he lose to Rios, was satisfied with his prized ward’s performance, saying the Pacman fought a “perfect” fight.
Even Rios’ trainer, Robert Garcia, who got into an altercation with Roach prior to Sunday's showdown, acknowledged that Pacquiao was far from done.
“Pacquiao still has it. He has quickness and great speed. He’ll be around for a long time,” said Garcia.