Photo by Nicky Loh/Getty Images
On Saturday, November 23, 2013, live from Venetian Macao hotel, Manny Pacquiao (54-5, 38 KOs) made his highly anticipated return to the ring against hard-nosed contender, Brandon Rios (31-1, 23 KOs).
It was a shutout victory in which Pacquiao looked stronger, faster, and more experienced than Rios.
Pacquiao began the fight slowly, landing quick straight hands and shots to the body as Rios tried to get acclimated to Pacquiao’s speed. He also mixed his boxing with a bit of stationary work, standing close to Rios as he blocked most of the punches with his gloves.
By the fourth and fifth rounds, Pacqauio began to use the ring more as he landed his punches. The rounds set the pace and pattern for what would take place for the rest of the fight.
Pacquiao outboxed Rios for twelve rounds. Rios tried to pressure and often clinched Pacquaio. His most successful punches landed while he held Pacquiao with one hand.
In this way, Rios was able to land a few uppercuts and hooks, but the boxing clinic was nonetheless in full effect. Pacquiao landed shots, moved to his right, landed more, and repeated the pattern for the final eight rounds.
Rios had no answers for the Pacqauio onslaught as he managed to survive the twelve rounds with severe swelling over both eyes.
Photo by Vincent Yu/AP
Pacquaio won via unanimous decision and, as Micheal Buffer announced, he is “back.” It was Pacquaio’s first win in two years and may have been convincing enough to once again place his name among the Welterweights who are vying for a shot against Floyd Mayweather.
Pacquaio claimed he didn’t want to get “reckless,” as he wasn’t able to put out Rios expected. The drama pervading both camps before the fight seems to have been over with, as Pacquiao congratulated each member of the other camp including Alex Ariza.
At the end of the day, Pacquiao explained to Max Kellerman, “we are all brothers and sisters.” Pacquiao dedicated the fight to the brothers and sisters who are suffering from the typhoon in the Philippines.
The pay-per-view event began with a lightweight bout between Puerto Rican Olympian Felix Verdejo (9-0, 6 KOs) and Petchsamuthr Duanaaymukdahan (8-2, 1 KO).
The fight began with Verdejo controlling the fight with his left hand, landing jabs and left hooks to the head and body. Duanaaymukdahan tried to be aggressive but was clearly flummoxed by the movement and speed of Verdejo.
By the third round, it looked less like a competitive bout between two warriors and more like a bag workout. Verdejo landed shots at will, even switching angles and stances to land shots.
The only thing Duanaaymukdahan could do is raise his hands up and be content with surviving so many rounds, as he did after the sixth and final round. Verdejo won via Unanimous Decision.
China’s own Zou Shiming (3-0) fought his third professional tonight against Juan Tozcano (4-1, 1 KO) as he sought to demonstrate his improvements after his less-than-stellar performances in his first two professional fights.
Shiming, a three-time Olympian–winning one Bronze medal and two Gold medals–landed strong right hands early in the fight. Shiming looked more aggressive and determined to earn the first knockout of his career.
It was a more professional style that proved to be crowd-pleasing and dangerous of Tozcano, who suffered a cut below his left eye and was utterly outclassed throughout the fight.
It was a fight that should have been stopped by the third or fourth round, as Harold Lederman realized as he shouted during the final round to the referee, “Stop the fight!”
Shiming won via Unanimous Decision and opens up the possibility of being an exciting and popular Flyweight champion.
Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz walked away with a TKO victory over Tor Hamer after the fourth round.
Hamer started the fight well, using his feet and speed to land solid shots on Ruiz, who was not moving his head as he had been in previous fights.
Despite the early success, Ruiz’s heart proved to be stronger than Hamer’s as, for the second time in his career, Hamer refused to fight after four rounds of boxing.
Hamer started to retreat and get pushed against the ropes as Ruiz became more successful with his offense. A disappointed and disillusioned Hamer walked back to his corner with his head down.
As he sat awaiting the fifth round, he told his trainer “I’m done.” Perhaps this is not the career Hamer (21-3, 14 KOs) should be pursuing as Ruiz improved to 21-0 with 15 knockouts.
The penultimate fight had “The Mexican Russian” Evgeny Gradovich in a rematch against Billy Dib for the IBF Featherweight title that Dib lost to Gradovich earlier this year.
Gradovich took the first fight with Dib on short notice and managed to win an upset victory. Gradovich, who was given more time to prepare for their rematch, looked even better.
Gradovich applied pressure and was able to outbox Dib for most of the fight. Dib tried to box on the outside and tried to fight at close range, but neither were successful for him.
By the seventh and eighth rounds it was clear that Dib did not have any answers for Gradovich’s pressure. Dib’s last resort was to drop his hands in order to invite Gradovich to come in recklessly, but was instead caught with vicious left hooks.
His corner threw in the towel in the ninth round as Gradovich retained his IBF Featherweight title and improves to an undefeated record of 17 wins with nine knockouts.
Photos by Chris Farina/Top Rank, Dale de La Rey – AFP Getty Images, Tyrone Siu – AFP, Nicky Lohd Getty Images, Vincent Yu – AP