MANNY IS BACK, BY UNANIMOUS DECISION

With blinding hand speed and dazzling side-to-side movements reminiscent of his wins over Oscar Dela Hoya and Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao overcame the hulking Brandon Rios, winning by unanimous decision in their 12-round match yesterday at the Cotai Arena of the Venetian casino here to take the WBO international welterweight title.

ALSO: Pacquiao wins for himself, his people (FROM ESPN)

The immediate verdict, after Pacquiao scored a dominant 12-round victory in front of 13,200 delirious souls in the Venetian Macao's CotaiArena, was that the final day of reckoning is some way off yet. "This is still my time," Pacquiao said afterward. "My time is not over."

ALSO: Mayweather still the one for Pacquiao (FROM ESPN)

Mayweather and Pacquiao hear a similar refrain. All the time. Their legacies are incomplete without each other. So the question is: Will they run from each other, or will they be like Lewis and Tyson and finally get it on?


MANNY IS BACK, BY UNANIMOUS DECISION


WINNER BY UNANIMOUS DECISION (AP) – Manny Pacquiao lands a solid right to Brandon Rios of the United States during their WBO international welterweight title fight yesterday in Macau. At left, a typhoon survivor holds up a placard while others cheer at a public park in Tacloban City, following the announcement of Pacquiao’s victory by unanimous decision over Rios.

MACAU, NOVEMBER 25, 2013(MANILA BULLETIN) Manny Pacquiao scored a double victory yesterday, one for himself and the other for the Filipino people, especially those in the Visayas who are still suffering from the pain and devastation left by super-typhoon “Yolanda.”

With blinding hand speed and dazzling side-to-side movements reminiscent of his wins over Oscar Dela Hoya and Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao overcame the hulking Brandon Rios, winning by unanimous decision in their 12-round match yesterday at the Cotai Arena of the Venetian casino here to take the WBO international welterweight title.

According to CompuBox, Pacquiao landed 281 of 790 punches for a 36 percent rate while Rios only landed 138 of 502 punches for a 27 rate.

The victory sent a strong statement that Pacquiao’s career remains far from finished.

“This is not just about my comeback. My victory symbolizes my people’s comeback,” said Pacquiao after posting scores of 120-108 (Michael Pernick of Miami), 119-109 (Lisa Giampa of Las Vegas) and 118-110 (Manfred Kuchler of Germany).

Pacquiao had the people of Leyte and Samar in his mind when he went up the ring, saying he felt the pain of their suffering and is delighted that he was able to bring them joy, no matter how fleeting, with his superb showing.

Turning 35 on Dec. 17, Pacquiao said his one-sided win over Rios proved that he still has a lot of juice left in his tank and that those who had doubted him following his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last year are mistaken to think that his career is over.

‘Still My Time’

“This is still my time. My time is not yet over,” said Pacquiao, who came into the Rios showdown hurting from back-to-back defeats to Marquez and Tim Bradley.

Still, Pacquiao said he found Rios a tough nut to crack, describing the fight as “one of the toughest of my career.”

“My opponent was very tough. Rios wasn’t an easy opponent,” he said.

Rios claimed that while he was outgunned by Pacquiao, he was never hurt “even one bit.”

“He was quicker than expected. I trained for quickness. I wasn’t hurt in the fight. Not at all. He never hurt me one bit. I never got rocked,” Rios said.

But it was Pacquiao’s style that left him looking like he was somebody trying to look for his glasses inside a dark room.

“It was just the awkwardness and speed that did it,” he said.

Superior in all Departments

Pacquiao was vastly superior in all departments. Almost all the shots that he dished out landed on target although Rios took them well, never showing any sign that he was about to fall down.

But in the sixth round, Pacquiao unleashed a furious combination that left Rios sporting a cut on his left eyebrow, although the Mexican-American banger continued to shake his head to show that he wasn’t hurt at all.

Pacquiao got the better of the opening two rounds, sending Rios to the canvas in the opening frame, although the referee contentiously ruled it as a slip rather than a knockdown.

The American asserted himself in the third, landing some crisp blows that raised hopes of a genuine contest before Pacquiao — spurred on by a capacity crowd at the 13,000-seat Cotai Arena including many Filipino fans — dominated the remainder of the contest.

Rios was game, continually walking forward to challenge Pacquiao but was unable to land any telling blows.

Cautioned by the memory of his previous fight when he walked into a savage Juan Manuel Marquez punch that knocked him out, Pacquiao was on guard throughout the closing rounds but a tiring Rios offered little threat over the final four rounds.

“Recovering from the knockout and giving a good show was what I wanted to prove to myself and everyone,” Pacquiao said.

Many thought and were looking forward to a knockout win by Pacquiao, but Rios stood his ground and in the process earned the respect and admiration of trainer Freddie Roach.

“I don’t know what kept him up. He was really tough,” said Roach.

Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is lining up Pacquiao’s next fight in Las Vegas on April 12.

Arum is not naming names but tops on the list are Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez if efforts to convince Floyd Mayweather to meet Pacquiao go down the drain again.

Pacquiao, meanwhile, is flying back to General Santos City on Monday afternoon. One of his top priorities is to lend a hand in the efforts to help the typhoon victims.

‘Source of Inspiration’

It was a victory that the typhoon-battered Philippines desperately needed.

Impressed by the speed and strength of the Filipino boxer, Malacañang congratulated Pacquiao for his victory against Brandon Rios that lifted the spirits of the Filipino nation.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Pacquiao’s triumph serves as “a source of strength and inspiration” to the nation after typhoon “Yolanda” unleashed its destructive power in many parts of the Visayas.

Asked if President Aquino watched Pacquiao’s comeback win against Rios, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said: “Yes he did.”

Bringing Pride

Senators rejoiced over Pacquiao’s victory over Rios. “I would like to extend my congratulations to my friend and former colleague, eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao for again bringing pride to the country,” Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said in a statement.

“Mabuhay ka Manny! Maraming salamat at napangiti mo muli ang sambayanang bugbog sarado at nagluluksa sa sunud-sunod na unos at kalamidad na dumaan nitong mga huling linggo. Kay sarap maging Pilipino! (Thank you that you made us smile again even after being battered by a series of tragedy and calamities),” he said.

Senator Vicente Sotto III also commended Pacquiao for his victory noting that it was a “hard fight.”

“(That’s a) hard fight. Malakas yung Rios pero determinado si Manny. Lahat ng round sa kanya,” Sotto said.

Resurrecting Career

Congressmen were likewise ecstatic at Pacquiao’s ability to resurrect his legendary boxing career that was devastated by two successive heartbreaking losses

“The victory uplifts all Filipinos most especially the Yolanda victims. Manny is truly the people’s champion,” declared Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who represents the most devastated province of Leyte.

Buhay Partylist Rep. LIto Atienza said he saw a Pacquiao win right from at the end of the first round.

“Manny has again, like he has done before, to deliver at the right time when we are at our lowest spirits. We appreciate Manny’s contribution in boosting the morale of our countrymen,” Atienza said. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, Hannah L. Torregoza, Ben Rosario, Charissa M. Luci, and Francis T. Wakefield)

FROM ESPN


Manny Pacquiao, right, routinely beat Brandon Rios to the punch and proved on Saturday in Macau that he, as Rios trainer Robert Garcia said, "still has it."

Pacquiao wins for himself, his people Originally Published: November 24, 2013 By Kieran Mulvaney | ESPN.com

Pacquiao Ends Layoff With Victory

MACAU -- There was no shortage of storylines during the build up to, and passage of, fight week in Macau:

• The first pay-per-view boxing card from China.

• Manny Pacquiao's understandable concern for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in his native Philippines.

• The tension between the camps of Pacquiao and opponent Brandon Rios, culminating in The Kick Heard 'Round the World.

But purely from a boxing sense, the biggest question was whether Manny Pacquiao was still Manny Pacquiao.

Did the loss to Juan Manuel Marquez either reflect or presage a terminal decline of a fighter whose career now spans 62 fights, many of them -- especially over the past several years -- hard fought against top-level opposition?

If Pacquiao was even 75 percent of the Pacquiao he once was, the thinking went, he would likely be too much for Rios.

But what if he wasn't?

What if the damage was more extensive than realized and the end was near -- was, in fact, just one solid Rios combination from being brought to a dramatic conclusion?

The immediate verdict, after Pacquiao scored a dominant 12-round victory in front of 13,200 delirious souls in the Venetian Macao's CotaiArena, was that the final day of reckoning is some way off yet.

"This is still my time," Pacquiao said afterward. "My time is not over."

It was a verdict with which Rios' trainer, Robert Garcia, concurred.

Manny Pacquiao, right, routinely beat Brandon Rios to the punch and proved on Saturday in Macau that he, as Rios trainer Robert Garcia said, "still has it." "Pacquiao still has it," he said. "He has quickness and great speed. He'll be around for a long time."

The reality is, as reality often is, a little bit more nuanced.

From ringside, Pacquiao's punches, though undeniably fast and clearly effective enough to lump up Rios' right eye and cut the left one, didn't appear to have quite the explosive power of his prime years. Rios rarely, if ever, appeared in danger of being overwhelmed like Lehlohonolo Ledwaba or Marco Antonio Barrera, let alone knocked cold like Ricky Hatton.

That is as much a credit to the American's iron chin as to any changes in the power of the Filipino, and it may, candidly, also have been a matter of design.

After all, the last time Pacquiao over-committed to his offense, he walked into a counter right hand from Marquez and spent a few minutes asleep in the ring.

And indeed, in the 12th round against Rios, when the accumulation of punches appeared to finally be too much, when Rios' attempts to pull victory out of the hat resulted in him walking into Pacquiao's buzzsaw and he sagged into a corner, Pacquiao briefly appeared to contemplate moving in for the kill before deciding that the risk wasn't worth it and backing away.

Perhaps what happened against Marquez means that, with reflexes ever-so-slightly slowing with age, and wear and tear, Pacquiao will fight in a marginally more restrained style in the future, seeking to inflict damage on his opponent while minimizing the risk of incoming artillery.

Defeating Rios was not his most important achievement on a Macau Sunday morning.
It paled in significance when placed side by side with a photo of a huge crowd in the devastated town of Tacloban, watching the fight unfold from a distance and finding solace in their most famous countryman's achievement.
Rios was certainly the perfect foil for such a strategy:
He chugged slowly forward in straight lines, hoping to close the distance and land hard, mauling punches on the inside, but was able to do little except swat at air as Pacquiao slid effortlessly and smoothly from one place to another, dodging Rios' fists and finding a home for his own, over and over.

Time and again the pattern repeated itself: Pacquiao looking for a way through Rios' tight jab, seeking the right angle that would enable him to land and then suddenly breaking through with a straight left or an uppercut and then, more often than not, taking advantage of the breached dam to unleash one punch after another, pounding away with combinations that had Rios shaking his head as if unaffected but able to offer little in response.

That sequence might not work quite as well against more mobile or versatile foes, but for now that doesn't matter. He may no longer be the Manny Pacquiao of 2009, but this version of the man is plenty enough Pacquiao to be vastly superior to any number of contenders and pretenders for a while yet.

After two years of disputed wins, disputed losses and shocking knockouts, Pacquiao was finally back where he wanted to be: winning decisively in front of an adoring crowd, and doing so with combination punching that left his opponent looking as if he had been arguing with a spinning propeller.

On that level, Manny Pacquiao is certainly back. But defeating Rios was not his most important achievement on a Macau Sunday morning.

It paled in significance when placed side by side with a photo of a huge crowd in the devastated town of Tacloban, watching the fight unfold from a distance and finding solace in their most famous countryman's achievement.

That ability to fight for and inspire his nation has always been the key part of the Pacquiao narrative, and on this day it was in evidence, in Macau and the Philippines, as much as ever before.

For Manny Pacquiao, that was the biggest victory of all.

Mayweather still the one for Pacquiao Updated: November 24, 2013, 2:45 PM ET By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com 739 108 221 EMAIL PRINT


Manny Pacquiao, right, bombarded Brandon Rios from the opening bell and gave him no quarter for 12 rounds. Said trainer Freddie Roach: "Manny fought the perfect fight."

MACAU- We'll never again see the seemingly unstoppable whirlwind Manny Pacquiao of 2007 to 2011.

That was the Manny Pacquiao who zoomed up the scales to win five of his world titles in a record eight weight classes, laying waste to superstar fighters such as Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto by knockout and torturing Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley in one-sided, virtual shutout decisions.

That Pacquiao is undoubtedly gone forever, losing the battle to the only undefeated force ever, Father Time.

But this Pacquiao -- the 34-year-old version coming off a gargantuan one-punch, sixth-round, face-first, go-to-sleep knockout against his great rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth encounter a year ago -- is still pretty damn good.

Pacquiao returned to a lingering question: Just what did the Filipino icon and shoo-in Hall of Famer have left?

As it turns out, quite a bit, as he ravaged former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios in a one-sided beating on Saturday night (Sunday afternoon in China) before a sold-out crowd of 13,101 at the CotaiArena at the Venetian Macao in Macau -- Pacquiao's first fight in Asia since 2006.

All three judges scored it overwhelmingly for Pacquiao, a 120-108 shutout, 119-109, 118-110, the last two cards being generous to Rios. ESPN.com had it 120-108 for Pacquiao, a southpaw whose straight left hand was extremely effective.

"This is still my time," Pacquiao said. "My time is not over."

It was a good enough performance to rekindle thoughts of the one showdown that so many wanted to see that has yet to happen: Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

The year layoff surely helped Pacquiao's body and mind recover, and also gave him plenty of time to recharge his batteries. He returned to boxing hungry and was as serious about his training as he has been in ages, putting in a full 12-week training camp with Hall of Fame cornerman Freddie Roach. Against Rios, Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) showed no ill effects of the brutal stoppage he suffered against Marquez. But he also didn't show his erstwhile huge power and electrifying style.

This was still a fast and accurate Pacquiao, but one a bit more reserved and careful, and it paid off as he staved off a dreaded, possible career-killing three-fight losing streak -- even if his 2012 split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley Jr., widely regarded as a robbery, doesn't count to most.

Put it this way: Before Pacquiao bombarded Rios with every shot in the book for 12 rounds, Roach had said that if his charge lost, he would have a long talk with him about retirement. That conversation isn't going be necessary yet. It seemed clear that this would be Pacquiao's night as early as the end of the first round, when he outlanded Rios 20-5, according to CompuBox statistics.

"Manny fought the perfect fight," Roach said.

At the end of the 10th round, in fact, after taking a shellacking from Pacquiao, Rios shrugged his shoulders as if to say, What else am I supposed to do against this guy?

Pacquiao-Rios punch stats Pacquiao Rios Landed 281 138 Thrown 790 502 Pct 36% 27% -- Courtesy of CompuBox Now it will be up to Pacquiao and his team to figure out what's next. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has floated an April 12 return date in Las Vegas, but against whom? That remains to be seen.

"It depends on my promoter, Bob Arum. I don't know yet," Pacquiao said of his next opponent, and he didn't mention any names.

One obvious possibility would be Bradley, who picked up his welterweight title with the controversial win against Pacquiao that was so widely rejected that Arum asked for an investigation of the judges in a fight involving his own boxer. Since then, Bradley has outslugged Ruslan Provodnikov in a hellacious battle in March and then outpointed Marquez in a close fight on Oct. 12.

A rematch with Pacquiao seems obvious, but Arum has never been too enthusiastic about it, in part because the amount of money he would have to pay both fighters in relation to what he believes it would generate on pay-per-view isn't to his liking.

Also mentioned has been Provodnikov, the Russian brawler who shook off the loss to Bradley and returned to junior welterweight to stop Mike Alvarado in the 10th round to win a world title Oct. 19. That match could be tricky, however. Provodnikov and Pacquiao were sparring partners, and Provodnikov was rough on him. Provodnikov is also trained by Roach, complicating matters.

Rios (31-2-1, 22 KOs), who lost his second fight in a row after also losing a rematch to Alvarado in March in the possible fight of the year, was beaten so comprehensively by Pacquiao that a rematch has no merit.

"It is what it is; it's part of boxing. Manny did a great job," Rios said. "He's very fast, that's it. Power-wise, I didn't feel that much. I'm good, man. Manny Pacquiao is very fast. I fought one of the greatest boxers in the world besides [Floyd] Mayweather. Very fast, very awkward. I stuck to my game plan, but the speed got me a little bit."

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Rios said the magic word: Mayweather.

For years, a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight is the one fans have begged for, but it hasn't happened. Both sides deserve their share of blame for multiple failed negotiations.

Make no mistake, even if they do fight one day, it will never be what it should have been in early 2010, when the proposed bout was being planned before falling apart over Mayweather's drug-testing demands. That's when the fight was red-hot and might have generated 3 million pay-per-view buys in a dream match between the world's top two fighters.

But even now, with Mayweather out of interesting opponents and Pacquiao in decline (although seemingly back on track and without any obvious opponent), the match is once again the most compelling potential fight in boxing.

There are huge issues, of course. Pacquiao is represented by Top Rank and fights on HBO. Mayweather does business with Golden Boy, has a contract with Showtime and despises Arum (his former promoter).

And then there are the same old issues, be it specific drug-testing protocol (although Pacquiao is now willing to participate in random blood and urine testing, as he did against Rios), the financial split and other details that could waylay the match.

Before Saturday's fight, Arum spoke of trying to make Mayweather-Pacquiao. He has been known to embellish from time to time, but this is what he said: "On our side, the answer is yes [the fight can be made in 2014]. We're very open to it. There are ways it can get done. They have to dumb down the rhetoric. We are prepared to dumb down the rhetoric and get it done. There is no real impediment to having that fight happen. Whether it will or not depends completely on the Mayweather side. I can see it happening, but I can't predict that it will happen because it takes two to tango."

Once again, there is no doubt which fight boxing fans want to see most. But will Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao run from each other or complete their legacies? After Pacquiao's win over Rios, Arum reiterated about a possible Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup: "If all sides cut out the crap, it can get done. Where there's a will, there's a way."

The network issues are real, but there is precedent for a solution: In order to make one of the biggest fights in boxing history -- then-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis against Mike Tyson -- the networks came together for an unprecedented joint pay-per-view in 2002.

For years, fans begged for the fight. The fighters wanted it, too. Finally, the networks got together in a deal that made peace in the Middle East seem possible. If the fighters, promoters and networks want it, Pacquiao-Mayweather could be made.

Now, for a little wisdom from Lewis. He knew how important the fight with Tyson was for his legacy, even if Tyson was no longer close to his prime. (Neither was Lewis, by the way.) As he said years ago, "Anywhere Lennox Lewis would go, people would say, 'When are you gonna fight Mike Tyson?' So it was something we both really couldn't run away from."

Mayweather and Pacquiao hear a similar refrain. All the time. Their legacies are incomplete without each other. So the question is: Will they run from each other, or will they be like Lewis and Tyson and finally get it on?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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