The fight was Pacquiao’s first since being anesthetized in the sixth round last December after walking into a perfect Juan Manuel Marquez right hand. Questions were raised in boxing about whether the KO loss was less from the well-timed punch or more a foreshadowing of Manny’s career that had perhaps turned a corner after 60-plus bouts and nearly two decades in the game. Not to worry; Manny looked greased and gassed up for a few more fights after his impressive win, seemingly answering any questions about how he would respond coming back from a KO loss.
The bout, which got hotter during fight week with trainers and camp associates trading insults and threats, was a good litmus test for Pacquiao, at one time, considered by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Rios, as tough as they come, was bigger and very game but lacked his opponent’s speed. This appeared to be the game-changer in the bout as Pacquiao countered and caught Rios, seemingly at will by bout’s end. Obviously, Pacquiao’s longtime promoter, Top Rank Promotions had to be careful who they put their star in with coming off a huge KO loss. But a fighter of Pacquiao’s caliber demands an elite-level opponent as fans won’t bite on a luxury tune-up when you charge pay-per view dollars to watch him. And while Rios was considered the right guy, style-wise, his size, determination and toughness dictated he was not going to be a walk in the park. And, credit where credit is due - with the gutsy, aggressive style he showed Saturday night, fight fans will be glad to see Rios in the ring again as soon as possible.
So, with the impressive win under Manny’s belt, what is next for the “Pac-Man”? Here are some Possibilities for the “Pride of the Philippines”:
Juan Manuel Marquez - If JMM decides to fight on, he’d likely love another shot at Manny’s chin. Manny would love to erase the memory of involuntarily snoozing in his last bout with the Mexican star and he was doing great until he got caught. Let’s do number five!
Floyd Mayweather (WBC/WBA super welterweight champion, WBC welterweight champion) - While “Money” continues to look better and better with age, Manny may have put himself back in the Mayweather sweepstakes after Saturday. Arum and Pacquiao are lobbying; now we just need Floyd and Golden Boy Promotions to play ball. The fight is hot again now, so pull the trigger; no more delays. Come on; everyone wants it. Let’s do it!
Timothy Bradley- (WBO welterweight champion)- The guy finds a way to win every time and he did against Pacquiao when they met in June of 2012. However, the controversial win was a buzzkill to Bradley’s biggest career victory and “Desert Storm” wants to clear up any doubts - as does Manny.
Amir Khan - If he can’t lure “Money” over to jolly old England, maybe he can convince Manny to let him check into the Venetian to serve up some English “bangers and mash”?
Danny Garcia (WBC/WBA junior welterweight champion)- He’s undefeated, tough and talented! This all-action attraction is red-hot at 140. Can he keep the flame burning at 147?
Ruslan Provodnikov (WBO junior welterweight champ) - Tough vs. tough makes for some good stuff! While Ruslan doesn’t have the name check of a Mayweather or Marquez, fans would fill the Venetian to watch Manny fight a bad cold. Russian banger moves up a few pounds; Manny drops a few…Some fun, catchweight action.
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