Prior to a one-punch knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez nearly one year ago, Manny Pacquiao was widely held as being on the same level as current pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. Naturally, interested observers wondered how the 34-year old Filipino sensation would respond in Macau, China when he returned against the ultra-tough and rough Brandon Rios.
Pacquiao answered all of the questions about whether he was a shot fighter or not by turning in a dominating performance against his much bigger and younger opponent. Pacquiao utilized his blistering speed and overall superior skills to nearly pitch a 12-round shutout.
While Pacquiao talked about Rios having been one of the tougher opponents of his career, the evidence wasn’t backed up in the lopsided nature of the scorecards. The results were 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110.
Rios seemed to be banking on a strategy of absorbing tremendous punishment in the hopes of wearing Pacquiao down late. It simply didn’t work. Rios wasn’t busy enough on the inside and had no answers for Pacquiao’s offensive arsenal other than take a flush combination and answer with a shake of the head and a smile.
There’s no denying that there aren’t many fighters on the face of the earth tougher than “Bam Bam,” but he simply isn’t at Pacquiao’s level. Rios couldn’t get on track offensively and while he did land some hard shots, they were few and far between.
What comes next is the tricky part. While a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has been talked about for years, it has never materialized. Now Pacquiao’s long-time promoter Bob Arum has expressed a belief that it could happen in 2014 if both camps are willing to be sensible about things. The fight has been talked about since 2009 and has been close to being made, but has always fallen apart over one issue or another.
Getting the fight done in the current climate seems difficult as there are squabbles between promoters and now rival networks. Mayweather’s move to Showtime over HBO has also made things difficult. However, all parties should consider this: if Mayweather’s latest PPV against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez did 2.2 million buys, imagine what Mayweather against Pacquiao would do?
The most likely scenarios for Pacquiao’s next fight would seem to be fighters who are also under the Top Rank promotional banner. Unbeaten Timothy Bradley “defeated” Pacquiao in a truly horrendous split decision in June of 2012. Bradley received plenty of venom because of the controversial nature of the win against the popular superstar. However, he wasn’t the one who turned in the scorecards.
A rematch would be better received now that Bradley has raised his stock since the controversy by winning an absolute war against Ruslan Provodnikov and defeating Marquez in a well-earned decision in his last fight. Provodnikov has been mentioned as another possibility, but he’s good friends with Pacquiao and has trained with him. Veteran trainer Freddie Roach doesn’t want to see that fight happen.
As for a fifth fight with Marquez, the Mexican veteran doesn’t seem keen on the idea. He won the fourth fight in electrifying fashion, and apparently believes that’s where the rivalry should end. Marquez would also demand an insane price tag to do it again.
Pacquiao-Mayweather is truly the best fight that can be made in the sport at the moment. Unfortunately for fans, it has been the case for the last few years, so no one should be holding their breath for it to happen. But if it was ever made, there’s no doubt it would be one of the most anticipated and highest-grossing fights in the sport’s history.
Rick LaFitte is a Boxing Writer for Rant Sports