Manny Pacquiao rebounded from back-to-back defeats to dominate overmatched Brandon Rios of the US and secure a one-sided unanimous decision win in front of 13,101 fans who packed the Cotai Arena in Macau.
It was Pacquiao’s first time fighting in Asia since 2006 and the Filipino received a raucous reception as he entered the ring at about midday.
He found a home for his trademark left in the opening round as Rios struggled to mount any sort of effective offense, save for a right uppercut on the inside.
It was all one-way traffic and Rios looked increasingly frustrated as Pacquiao used his footwork and lateral movement to circle out and leave the former lightweight champion, who was competing at 147lbs (67kg) for the first time, swinging at fresh air.
In the dying second of the fifth round, Pacquiao came on strong with hard combinations to the head and body. Rios rallied and fired back, but his shots were wild and never looked like troubling the eight-division world champion.
Pacquiao seemed to take a breather in the ninth round as he covered up and waited to see what sort of offense his opponent would come up with, but Rios was bereft of ideas and even when the Filipino dramatically reduced his punch output he still could not capitalize.
In the 10th round Pacquiao proved he still had plenty of spring left in his step by picking up the pace and landing a series of clean shots to the head of Rios, who was displaying an iron chin and commendable bravery, but was powerless in the face of the Filipino’s onslaught.
The staunchly pro-Pacquiao crowd would have loved to see their hero register a stoppage win, but the fighter himself had other ideas. After driving Rios back against the ropes with a brutal combination early in the final round, he backed off and touched gloves with his already beaten opponent.
Boxing has had more than its fair share of scoring controversies of late, but there was no question who had won the one-sided bout, with the judges seeing it as 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 in favor of Pacquiao, who successfully snapped the first two-fight losing streak of his career.
Speaking after the fight, Pacquiao hailed the efforts of his opponent,
“Rios is a good opponent, he came to fight and it was one of the toughest fights of my career,” Pacquiao said.
He also said that he has no intention of hanging up his gloves just yet, and will wait and see which opponent Top Rank finds for him to fight next.
“My time is not over yet. Next? It is up to my promoter Bob Arum and we’ll see,” he said.
Viable options for Pacquiao include a rematch with Timothy Bradley, a fifth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez or a meeting with former sparring partner Ruslan Provonikov, with all those welterweights currently competing under the Top Rank banner.
The most mouthwatering bout out there would be with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr and fight fans will be hoping that Pacquiao’s resurgent performance in Macau can provide the impetus for the various promoters and TV networks involved to put aside their differences and set up what would almost certainly be the most lucrative fight of all time.