As fans we love to see those that we adore rise, we question our allegiance when they stumble and fall, and anticipate the moment when we could embrace them as they rise again. For those who viewed Manny Pacquiao vs Brandon Rios, they were doing so with their arms wide open.
Manny Pacquiao entered the ring for the first time in over a year after suffering the biggest of defeats on the highest of stages. In the opposite corner was a guy as hungry as he was when he first took the boxing world by storm.
Experts agrees that unless Pacquiao was completely shot, his skills would be too much for the heart and nuts approach that Brandon Rios promised to deliver.
13,101 was the announced attendance at a very early arriving casino crowd, and they seemed well rested and eager to proclaim their allegiance to Filipino icon Pacquiao.
What they witnessed was a very good Manny Pacquiao dominate a very game Brandon Rios. Pacquiao’s speed from the southpaw stance made it clear from early on that Rios was not tasting this type of sting in sparring.
Pacquiao was controlling the action behind straight lefts to the head and body. Rios was fighting behind a peek-a-boo defense, but he was hit whenever he was exposed. Pacquiao was moving well, and delivering well placed jabs to the soft Rios mid-section.
After the first quarter Rios found an opening as Pacquiao was looking to the referee. Suddenly Manny found himself fighting with his back against the ropes. He did not seem to be fighting with the confidence and/or explosiveness that we have been used to seeing from the icon.
Pacquiao was putting rounds away in the bank, but I soon started to get an eerie feeling like I had when Miguel Cotto was winning the battle, but not the war, against Antonio Margarito in their first fight.
That feeling went away when Pacquiao reestablished his dominance in the next round. Movement, quickness, and the hunger for combat took over. Manny was again willing to sit down on his punches, and he left Rios with little to return but an admirable smile.
As the fight came to a close it was obvious who was going to get his arm raised. CompuBox stats or official scores did not matter. Yes, Pacquaio won almost every round, but, as fans our minds were already racing six months in advance.
Pacquiao – Bradley 2? No doubt it would be better received than their first fight. Marquez? For who? For what? In my opinion, Pacquiao will still be viewed as the better between the two. Mayweather? Child, please.
What is important for boxing fans should be that we have one of the most important members of the sport back in the picture. Boxing politics and network obligations will limit our Christmas Lists from being fulfilled, but we will at least have 3-4 nights in 2014 that our sport will be on the front pages for all the right reasons.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on twitter.com @PribsBoxing