Manny Pacquiao put himself back in the big-time boxing picture with a strong decision over opponent Brandon Rios.
The judges were unanimous in the dominance Pacquiao showed, although in disagreement by a small amount. One judge had him pitching a shutout, 120-108, while the other judges had it 119-109 and 118-1110.
There is little question that Pacquiao is ready for more big-time fights, although one against Floyd Mayweather Jr. remains a longshot.
Here is a round-by-round look at the bout:
The judges are Michael Pernick (Florida), Lisa Giampa (Las Vegas) and Manfred Kuchler (Germany).
Round 1: Pacquiao started with confidence, landing some straight rights to the body. Pacquiao excited the crowd with some early shots that did little damage. His jabs and left hand seem strong while Rios landed some nice body shots. Rios did slip and took a knee but it was clear it wasn’t a knockdown. But it was clear it was the old Pacquiao that was ready for this fight. Very clear who won the first round. Times card: Pacquiao 10, Rios 9.
Round 2: The round started with the action more even while it appeared Rios’ strategy was to go to the body. But Pacquiao appeared fresh and young. Late in the round Pacquiao connected with a strong left to the jaw. Pacquiao hasn’t made a mistake yet. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 20-18.
Round 3: It seems as if Pacquiao is at his best with strong shots and athleticism in the ring. Rios made a brief rally early in the round when he trapped Pacquiao in a corner. But Pacquiao responded with some strong counterpunching in the middle of the ring to likely win the round. But it was Rios’ best round. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 30-27.
Round 4: Pacquiao seems to be in complete control of the fight. His left jabs seem to have confounded Rios. While neither fighter seems to be in distress, Pacquiao is running a clinic on how to win a fight. It’s now a question of how long Rios wants to put up with this. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 40-36.
Round 5: Pacquiao opened the round with a strong left to the head of Rios and then followed with a good left-right combination later in the round. Observers are starting to wonder how longer Rios can last in this fight. Any doubt that Pacquiao’s loss to Marquez was going to define the end of his career were sadly mistaken. It’s now his fight to finish. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 50-45.
Round 6: Pacquiao started the round with a strong left-right combination but he seems to have settled down a bit. But as the round progressed Pacquiao got stronger with combinations and even drew a little blood around Rios’ right eye. The question now seems as if Rios can win a single round or be shutout. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 60-54.
Round 7: Anyone who doubted Manny Pacquiao needs to reconsider the future of the 34-year-old boxer. He looks young and fresh, and his left jabs seems sharp as ever. This round crosses over that Rios would need a knockout to win the fight. Pacquiao holds a 172-88 advantage in punches landed. Times card: Pacquiao wins round 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 70-63.
Round 8: If there was a round that Rios could win, this was it. Pacquiao looked a little unsettled and Rios even landed a left shot that connected with his face. But a late flurry by Pacquaio brought the round back to him as Rios looked distressed around the eyes and nose. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 80-72.
Round 9: More of the same as it becomes apparent that Pacquiao’s only remaining goal is to pitch a shutout. Rios showed a late flurry but it was answered by strong, sharp connections by Pacquiao. Rios isn’t hurt but he is surely beaten. Both eyes are swollen. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 90-81.
Round 10: Pacquiao continued to dominate his overmatched opponent, scoring easily with punches that seem to sting but not hurt. Rios is hoping just to make the 12-round finish with no chance of winning the fight. Only a miracle can give Rios the win. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 100-90.
Round 11: An early flurry by Pacquiao got the crowd excited but Rios seemed determined to finish the fight. Pacquiao’s left continues to connect with modest damage against a fighter that only has a puncher’s chance to win. The pace of the fight seems to have slowed but Pacquiao’s dominance has not. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao leads fight, 110-99.
Round 12: The final round started with Rios realizing he had only one chance and that was knockout, but it was clear that the Manny Pacquiao that captivated the world was still around. He jabbed and hit at will. The fact that he didn’t drop Rios will not be remembered as a fight that Pacquiao did not close but more that he is as dominant as he ever was. Times card: Pacquiao wins round, 10-9; Pacquiao wins fight, 120-108 (scoring and result unofficial).