Victorious for the first time in two years and fighting for his devastated Philippines, Manny Pacquiao dominated Brandon Rios for a unanimous decision after 12 rounds Saturday night at Cotai Arena in Macau, China.
The final score cards read 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110 in Pacquiao’s favor after he connected with flurry after flurry to Rios’s head and body.
Pacquiao was 350 days removed from the vicious knockout that ended his fourth super fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, and though he kept Rios on his heels much of the fight, the 34-year-old was careful to avoid a slip up after the seventh round.
Pacquiao’s previous victory came against Marquez in November 2011, and a dominate victory was seen as necessary for his career to continue. Otherwise retirement was beginning to seem like a reality after two consecutive losses.
Instead, Pacquiao deflected his victory, and honored his native land in the post-fight interview.
"This is not about my comeback," Pacquiao said. "My victory is a symbol of my people's comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy.
"My journey will continue. I said we will rise again, and that's what happened."
With his corner men expertly hiding the two cuts developing above his eyebrows throughout the match, Rios appeared overwhelmed from the get-go and unable to thwart any of Pacquiao’s punches.
Even in defeat, Rios insisted his opponent was never close to a knockout, and he routinely smirked and egged on Pacquiao throughout the match.
"What got me was just the speed and his awkwardness," Rios said. "He never hurt me at all, and I never got stunned at all, but the quickness just caught me off guard."