If you had a chance to listen to my Pacquiao vs. Rios preview, what happened on Saturday night (Sunday morning, in China) is what most people assumed would happen.
Unless, Rios caught Pacquiao early or Pacquiao was totally shot, he would box and move his way to a dominant victory.
That is more or less what happened. I thought the fight changed in the 3rd round. Pacquiao was standing toe to toe with Rios and took some pretty good shots, which moved him a bit. When he got back to the corner, Freddie Roach gave him instructions to move and box. From that point on it was boxing clinic. Rios is a good solid boxer, but he is a predictable one. Once, Pacquiao started to give him angles and use his speed to blunt Rios’ offense the fight was pretty much over.
Considering the devastating way Pacquiao was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez, this was an important confidence-building win.
You can see Pacquiao still has the speed and the boxing ability, but what he no longer has is the explosive one punch KO or knockdown power. That could just be a product of him fighting bigger and stronger guys or something else, but he hasn’t had a KO/TKO in over four years.
Rios was never hurt in the fight, just frustrated and beat up, but never hurt. The question still remains if Pacquiao gets in the ring with someone with a little more boxing ability, how will he handle that? But, at least we know that Pacquiao isn’t shot, he will never been the same as he was in his prime, but he is still an elite boxer.
What’s next for Pacquiao?
The logical choices would be Juan Manuel Marquez or Timothy Bradley. JMM doesn’t seem that interested (considering how their last fight ended I can understand that); Bradley though would be an ideal candidate for Pacquiao.
He could avenge a loss (that should have been a win) and he doesn’t have to worry about being KOed because Bradley has no power.
That is what I would expect in the summer of 2014.
A lot of people will mention Floyd Mayweather, but I can say with 99% certainty that isn’t happening. There are so many issues, you can just choose whichever one you want (Top Rank vs. Golden Boy, Showtime vs. HBO, Floyd vs. Arum, Oscar vs. Arum, Who gets the better split? where is the fight held? and more), that fight just isn’t happening.
The world wanted to see if Pacquiao mentally was recovered from his KO and I think we have our answer, but there are still a lot of questions out there, but it was a good night for Team Pacquiao.