There were a lot of questions surrounding Manny Pacquiao heading into Saturday's fight against Brandon Rios. Could he rebound from consecutive losses? Was he too old? Was his heart still in it?
He answered a lot of those questions definitively, dominating Rios on the way to a unanimous victory. Pacquiao flashed the speed and power that once put him in the discussion for best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He punished Rios, battering him with heavy combinations. He didn't leave much doubt early either, coming out of the corner strong in the first round. Many, including one of the judges, scored every round in Pacquiao's favor. The other two judges scored decisive victories in favor of Pacquiao with one scoring it 119-109 and the other 118-110.
Pacquiao was impressive, but Brent Brookhouse wrote he still wasn't "vintage Manny:"
While Rios kept coming forward, throwing his own power, he simply didn't have it in his toolbox to deal with the kind of Pacquiao that showed up tonight. That Pacquiao was a sort of "vintage Manny" that used counter punching, heavy combinations and footwork to stay out of danger. That said, he's not exactly as good as he was at his peak, not quite as fast and not quite possessing of the kind of killer instinct that made him a sensation several years ago.
Scott Christ of Bad Left Hook said Pacquiao proved speed and skill will always beat determination and toughness at the highest levels of boxing. Even if he's not quite as good as before, Christ wrote Pacquiao is still one of the best in the world:
There was far too much speed, movement, and variety from Manny, who turns 35 next month, and definitely isn't the fighter he was at his peak in perhaps 2008-09, but this is still a top fighter. Is his power the same? Maybe not. Is the killer instinct the same? I'd say it is not. But Manny remains one of the best in the world, and he showed tonight that he's at least a solid level above a tough, game, and strong guy like Brandon Rios.
That is just the tip of the iceberg of SB Nation's coverage of the fight. Here's a sampling of what you may have missed.
GIF highlights of Pacquiao's win from Chris Hall of Bloody Elbow.
Full video highlights from Bryan Tucker of MMA Fighting
Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting said it wasn't vintage Manny, but Pacquiao "smashed" Rios.
"Pacquiao certainly looked like someone who can still handle himself at the elite level," -- Patrick Stumberg of MMA Mania.
If you missed the fight you can read Brookhouse's round-by-round recaps: