The fleet-footed bomber who fractured Antonio Margarito’s orbital socket is not the guy I saw Saturday night. Don’t get me wrong, Brandon Rios is tough as nails and at 147 looked even more rugged than he ever has in the past. But Rios, God bless him… is Rios. He came straight forward all night. Old-school Manny would have thrown nine-to-10 punch combinations while darting in and out, pivoting on his front foot.
The fact that Manny seemed disinterested (as Roy Jones noted) in engaging at times says a lot. This wasn’t the offensive dynamo who would have tried to get “Money” out of there. Nope. This was a “safety-first, get me to the finish line while I pile of the points” Pacman. One we haven’t seen before.
I’m afraid the Mayweather vs. Pacman fight gets made now. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t have happened when PacMan could test Floyd at his peak. Similar to Tyson vs. Lewis, this one has gone past it’s sell-by date.
So what now for Pacman? I have no idea. Juan Manuel Marquez again? Perhaps better to ask “what next” for Rios? Ruslan Provodnikov would hurt Pac I’m afraid. I’d rather see him in against Rios.
In light of Magomed Abdusalamov’s situation, I don’t think the crowd (or Lou DaBully) should be so hard on Tor Hamer. Dude said he “had no wind” in his corner. I think he would have been banged up pretty good if he couldn’t defend himself. With all the announcers begging for the other undercard fights to be stopped early when a mismatch was presented, why can’t a guy admit when he’s had enough? Hamer fought hard for a good 3.5 rounds and tried to impose his will, but couldn’t. No need to withhold a guy’s purse, when others need collections taken from the concerned public when a guy doesn’t know when to quit.
Ah well… life goes on. So what next for Pacman? I’d love to hear Dougie Arum’s opinion. – JB
I think the logical choice is Tim Bradley, who has had a good come-back year following the public disapproval of his controversial decision over Pacquiao last June. Timmy gave HBO and us Blood Thirsty Ghouls the “Arturo Gatti” treatment with his narrow victory over Provodnikov and then boxed the perfect fight en route to outpointing Manny’s nemesis JMM.
Bradley’s back and he’s a more marketable B-side for Pacquiao than he was in 2012. More importantly for Pacquiao – and all of the Filipino hero’s fans who are mad about what I wrote after the Rios fight – Bradley represents the opportunity to prove that he’s still an elite fighter. Bradley is the sport’s consensus No. 3 pound-for-pound rated boxer, behind only Mayweather and Andre Ward (at least according to THE RING, ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board).
I thought Rios served his purpose on Saturday. He tested where Pacquiao’s heart and ability is at. And as I stated in my post-fight column, it’s all there – it just didn’t appear to be at the elite-level it was two-to-three years ago.
Anyone who disagrees should take a look at highlights from the Joshua Clottey fight. Clottey, like Rios, was a big, strong, durable welterweight, whose primary mode of defense was to cover up like 147-pound armadillo. Remember how Pacquiao attacked the Ghanaian relentlessly from all angles (especially to the body)? Call me crazy – or a “hater” – but this dynamic version of Pacquiao would have produced the stoppage that most fans and media predicted prior to the Rios fight.
Pacquiao proved that he can rely on more than his fighting heart and athletic ability, however. He showed that he can think and box and stick to a game plan. Kudos to him. He was excellent. He arguably shut Rios out. But as you stated – Rios is Rios. He’s not an elite fighter. He’s been taken to school before, by Richar Abril, who ain’t in anybody’s pound for pound. He’s been beaten before, but Mike Alvarado, who is not an elite fighter.
So Pacquiao is back. He’s definitely still world class. He definitely still has his fans (some of whom think I’m a piece of s___, which is fine). The next step is to prove that he’s still elite. He’ll do that if he beats Bradley next year.
THEN we can all start seriously talking about Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.
What’s next for Rios? It shouldn’t be Provodnikov, who would probably knock him out (and would have a decent shot of doing the same to Pacquiao). He’s taken enough punishment in back-to-back-to-back fights with Alvarado and Pacquiao. I think he needs a relatively “softer” comeback opponent, perhaps Mauricio Herrera, and then he can take aim at some of Top Rank’s stronger welterweight talent.
I think Rios vs. Luis Carlos Abregu would be a hell of a fight; must-see TV. I also think he can win that fight. Rios vs. Jessie Vargas would also be interesting (and winnable). If he did well against Abregu or Vargas, I think a rubber match vs. Alvarado (at 147 pounds) makes a lot of sense (and dollars) for Bam Bam.
Good point about Hamer. I wasn’t mad at him for pulling himself out of the Ruiz fight. I was a little surprised he took that route given that he retired on his stool against Vyacheslav Glazkov last December. But if his heart isn’t in it, he doesn’t need to be taking punches. And I’m not just talking about the Ruiz fight; I mean he needs to seriously think about pursuing another profession. Boxing’s a brutally tough and unforgiving sport. It’s going to be hard for him to get televised fights from now on. Maybe he can have another go at one of those British Prizefighter tournaments before getting a real job.
FROCH OUTCOME NOT A SHOCKER
Groves hadn’t appeared to be punching for a good 30 seconds leading up to the stoppage and his legs really did look to be wobbling. He also appeared to fall into referee Howard John Foster when he had been released by him on the ropes, which adds further justification to the decision. I do agree that the stoppage was a little premature but I don’t think it was a complete disgrace, particularly in light of the Perez-Abdusalamov incident, which must still be weighing heavy on the minds of those responsible for ending contests before too much damage is done. Either way, the crowd booing Froch on the night for the ref’s intervention is just plain stupid!
Finally, where do you think our British warriors go from here if a rematch isn’t called? I can see Groves going after Sakio Bika or Robert Stieglitz now that he knows he can mix it with the best. Froch may well look at a third Mikkel Kessler bout. Otherwise I think he’ll have to look outside of the 168lb division for a really marketable contest.
Cheers. – Laurence, Nottingham (UK)
Good to hear from you, Sir Laurence of Nottingham (I’m sorry, that just sounded too good to pass up).
I think Froch has a number of attractive options – all of which are return bouts. A rubber match with Kessler is the most lucrative. A rematch with Andre Ward is the most significant. A rematch with Groves will likely produce the best fight.
I think Froch will go for the Kessler fight.
I think Groves will target the winner of the Stieglitz-Arthur Abraham rubber match, and if he does I favor him to beat either veteran (I liked him over both guys before the Froch fight).
I don’t blame the crowd in Manchester for booing Froch. He caught a break from the referee and he acted like a d__k during the post-fight interview (at least by British standards).
I thought it was a very premature stoppage, among the worst I’ve seen in recent years. Having said that, I also think Foster saved Groves from beating and a late-rounds stoppage loss. With the same panicky action, he robbed Froch of a legit victory and the fans of a satisfying and inspiring ending to what had been a terrific fight. As it is, Groves loses his unbeaten record and a chance to fight back from adversity but he keeps his pride and gains public sympathy. He earned the respect he’s getting with his performance prior to the bad stoppage. So he’s not really that bad off, but that’s easy for me to say. I didn’t have my lifelong dream yanked out of my grasp.
I thought Groves was well ahead on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage, having only scored rounds five and eight for Froch.
Having said that, like many others, I think the 36-year-old veteran was definitely coming on after the fifth round. I don’t think he was beating manhandled or beatdown during the first half of the bout the way the British commentators made is sound. I thought Froch worked his way back into the fight by the middle rounds and it looked like he turned the tide in the eighth round. I thought he was in the process of taking Groves’ heart in the ninth. Groves earned the right to try and fight, box or hold his way out of the rough spot, but had he survived, I think he would have been pummeled in the 10th and likely stopped by the 11th.
That’s just one man’s opinion. I think they definitely need to fight again, and I may be in the minority, but I would favor Froch in the rematch.
BATTLE OF BRITAIN, STEVENSON-BELLEW
Hello again Doug,
Hope you are well and that you enjoyed the “Battle of Britain.” It certainly lived up to its billing.
The best boxer lost but the best man won and what a night of drama and excitement! It was a fight that perhaps gave us more questions than answers but, for different reasons, both guys came away with great credit. Groves walked into the ring to boos and hostility but left to the sound of cheers and the crowd chanting his name! I’ve never seen a boxer turn the crowd reaction like that before and despite losing he’s won the hearts of boxing fans everywhere and proved himself to be world class. I said in my previous letter that I though Groves had the speed and technique to cause Froch problems but I didn’t foresee him beating Froch at his own game by pushing him back, winning many of the inside exchanges and having the power to visibly stun the iron jawed Cobra several times. I certainly didn’t expect to see Froch on his backside and on unsteady legs in the first round! Honestly, for the first six or seven rounds Groves did a more impressive job on Froch then Ward or Kessler (in their fist fight) did. More than ever I can predict a big future for the man they call “The Saint.”
As for Froch, well, what else can you say? His chin, heart and never say die attitude are legendary but he’s outdone himself in this fight. He was taking KO leather flush on the jaw in almost every round and I don’t think there’s another fighter in the SMW division who could have been so out boxed and absorbed such brutally sustained punishment yet still found a way to win.
The questions that still hang in the air are; 1) Did the referee stop the fight too early and if so could Groves have survived the round and even won the fight? 2) How on earth did two of the judges only have Groves one point up? 3) Is this the fight where Froch finally grew old or did Groves simply make him look slow and cumbersome? 4) Could Groves perform like that again? Apart from the fact that it was great fight these questions are the reasons that there must be a rematch.
Before I go I do have another bold prediction for you Doug. Tony Bellew to beat Adonis Stevenson in spectacular fashion! Stevenson has been hyped up to be the second coming of Mike Tyson and nobody on your side of the pond is giving Bellew a chance in hell. I get that but I’ve just got a feeling that Stevenson is going to underestimate and look past Bellew. There’s no doubt Stevenson is exciting and he sure can punch but I do feel he’s been flattered by his last two performances. The Chad Dawson fight was over before it started with an early sucker punch and I also feel Dawson is all but finished as a world class operator. I also thought Tavoris Cloud was dreadful and offered nothing when he fought Stevenson. Something else that seems to get overlooked is the fact the Stevenson got KO’d at the weight below by a journeyman. So, for me at least, there’s still some questions to be asked about Mr Superman. One thing I can guarantee you is Bellew will bring more to the party then either of Stevenson’s last two opponents because he’s a Scouser with a whole ton of attitude and pride. Cheers. – Mark
I agree that Bellew will bring more to the ring than the American duo that Stevenson humiliated in his last two bouts. The Liverpool native is tougher than Dawson and he’s craftier than Cloud.
Still, he’s got his work cut out for him. Stevenson has been gradually adding the finer points of boxing to his power game since being stopped by Darnell Boone nine bouts ago and that’s a formidable combination. Bellew will need to cut the ring off and get in close without eating any flush left-hand bombs to his head or body. Once inside he needs to push the Stevenson back while working the Haitian-Canadian’s body. I think if Bellew is able to maul THE RING champ in the early rounds he can wear him down to a late stoppage or at least box on even terms over the second half of the bout.
I don’t count Bellew out because I know he’s got a good chin and he’s a big, strong light heavyweight who is used to going the distance, but I gotta favor Stevenson, who looks like he’s come into his own. The key to victory for both men is to dictate the distance and tempo of the fight. If Stevenson can keep it on the outside and at a moderate pace, he’ll be in charge and likely extend his KO streak to 10-0. If Bellew can start fast, set a frantic pace and get in close, he can score a huge upset.
I’m looking forward to this fight (and the Kovalev-Sillakh co-feature) just like I was anticipating the Froch-Groves showdown last week. I wanted to see the super middleweights more than the Pacquiao-Rios fight. I knew they would produce a more competitive and dramatic fight and I was “spot on” as you Brits say.
What I was wrong about was Groves ability to hurt Froch. I didn’t think he could do it, but he sure as hell did, and I agree that he gave The Cobra a tougher fight than both Ward and Kessler. That’s saying something.
I’ll answer your questions in order:
1) Yes, the referee stopped the fight too soon in my opinion. Yes, Groves could have survived. He had taken Froch’s power earlier in the fight and returned heavier shots. He had also shown the ability to tie Froch up and push his way off the ropes. I don’t think it was out of the realm of possibility that Groves could survive that rocky round and rally to win a decision. (Although my personal view is that Froch was going to grind him down to a legitimate late stoppage.)
2) I have no idea how two of the official judges only had Groves up by one point after eight rounds. I had Groves up by FIVE points after the eighth (78-73), due to his 10-8 first round and only scoring two rounds for Froch. But I was watching on TV. Maybe it looked different in the arena. Sir Laurence of Nottingham thought Groves was only up by one point, so there ya go.
3) There’s no doubt that Froch’s seven-bout back-to-back WBC title reigns (which began with a barnburner vs. Jean Pascal in December of 2008 and ended against Ward in December of 2011) took something out of his mid-30s body, but he showed that he’s still on top of his game with this victories over Lucian Bute and Kessler, so I have to give Groves most of the credit (if not all) for making grizzled veteran look his age.
4) Groves can definitely perform that way again – against any world-class 168 pounder – and the reason I’m so sure of this is because of the premature stoppage. Foster f__ked up, but he also prevented Froch from doing a job on the young man’s body and psyche.
I agree that there must be a rematch.
Doubt I’ll make three mailbags in a row, but there was a lot on this night of boxing worth commenting on.
I never went in for that “back-to-back losses” theme most pundits were pushing coming in to this fight regarding Pac’s supposedly diminishing skills. He’s a little older and slower now, sure, but he plain beat Bradley and was en route to a knockout against Marquez when he was starched flat. Obviously that was the biggest question mark: would he be able to rebound?
Seems like he did after winning every round against Rios. As for that, do you think Robert Garcia would have stopped the fight had his pride not been on the line after that fracas in the gym?
What a fun fight that ended tragically (hyperbole intended). I had never seen anything of Groves before, but I really admired his warrior’s heart and power punching. I now understand why Froch wasn’t too interested in taking this fight. I watched that stoppage replay a few times and I still can’t find a reason for it. I know some fighters have sustained life-altering/ending punishment in the ring lately, but this wasn’t that. Groves didn’t take sustained punishment for multiple rounds (he was winning, for chrissakes!). He didn’t even take sustained punishment during the exchange leading up to the stoppage! I may just be a fight fan, but from where I was sitting Howard Foster appears to be an incompetent. The tragedy comes in the form of a third party stealing what likely would have been a hard-fought victory from the deserving winner. There’s just something wrong about subverting that kind of destiny. Foster simply had no business altering another person’s life trajectory like that. I doubt he’d be too pleased if someone took what he earned away from him.
Your thoughts? – Chris in Argentina
I agree that Foster wouldn’t want someone to dictate his destiny, but he was merely looking out for Groves’ well being. He just panicked and pulled the trigger too soon. That’s all.
I don’t believe that he forever altered Groves’ “life trajectory.” He ruined one fight and he prevented Groves the opportunity to survive a rough patch and possibly regain control of a world title bout that he was winning. I think Groves is mentally strong, in his prime, and will grow from this experience. I think he will one day win a world title – soon.
Part of the reason is that – as you stated – he didn’t take any sustained punishment in the fight. I think the stoppage was premature and borderline incompetent, but I also think it’s part of the reason that Groves will bounce back from this setback because I believe that he likely would have suffered sustained punishment had the bout continued past the ninth round.
I agree Pacquiao deserved to win the Bradley fight and looked to be on his way to stopping Marquez before he ate that monster right hand at the end of the sixth.
I didn’t think his skills were diminishing at all after the back-to-back losses. My question was whether or not his heart was still in the fight game and whether or not his chin would be able to take a hard, clean shot.
He proved his skills are just fine – maybe better than ever – and that he can take a solid punch to the chops because Rios is a heavy handed MF. I also think his heart is still in the game – but only to a certain extent. He’s no longer willing to take the risks he once did. And in my opinion, that devil-may-care attitude is part of what made him special.
The other part of what made him special was his amazing speed and reflexes, both of which have been dulled in recent years. I think the combination of being more careful and less dynamic will make him a more competent and effective boxer but will prevent him from overwhelming elite boxers.
Having said that, I think he rebounded from the Marquez KO better than many elite fighters of the past did after suffering their first devastating setbacks, such as Marco Antonio Barrera after the first Junior Jones fight or the late Vernon Forrest after the first Ricardo Mayorga fight or Shane Mosley after the first Forrest fight. They were all a bit gun shy after having their bells rang hard – Pacquiao less so (although it should be noted that the fighters I mentioned took immediate rematches with the guys that beat them up).
Even if Team Garcia didn’t get into it with Freddie Roach, I doubt Garcia would have stopped the Pacquiao-Rios fight. Bam Bam got banged up pretty good but it wasn’t anything close to the beating that Antonio Margarito took from the PacMan in 2010. Rios deserved the right to finish the fight.
What’s up Dougie,
Coming into the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight I knew the Pac Man was a much more skilled and polished fighter than ‘Bam Bam’ Rios. My only concern was how he was going to react to getting hit clean. I got my answer after 3 rounds and knew Manny was gonna go on to dominate.
Manny fought brilliantly, and honestly, he probably could have laid a massive beat down on Rios but decided not to because he loves God and felt sorry for Rios. I’m not being sarcastic, Manny held back. In the last couple of rounds Rios was helpless and Manny let him off the hook.
Manny was literally dancing circles around Rios and displayed disciplined aggression. The question now is, what’s next for the Pac Man? I don’t care for a rematch with Timothy Bradley, a Mayweather fight is pretty much out of the question right now. So what about Pacquiao-Marquez V?
P.S, I like watching Brandon Rios fight, but he acted like a chump afterward. I’d like to see him against Ruslan Provodnikov since he likes to brawl and all that. He was a straight up punching bag to Manny, period! He didn’t take his loss all that well. – Miguel, LBC
Rios is a proud young man. He wanted to prove to the boxing world that he was more than just a durable “opponent” for Pacquiao to look good against but the veteran made him out to be just that, which is a hard pill to swallow for him. Maybe after a few days or weeks go by, he’ll have less of a chip on his shoulder.
I don’t care to see a fifth Pacquiao-Marquez fight. I’m not against it happening but I’d like to see Marquez walk away from the sport healthy and I’d like to see Pacquiao fight a couple different opponents before hanging up the gloves himself.
I think Bradley has earned another shot at Pacquiao and I think that Pacquiao needs the rematch.
I agree that Pacquiao held back on Rios and that his reaffirmed dedication to God has made him a more compassionate boxer, which is good for his soul and good for his opponents’ bodies, but I think it will cost him against elite fighters and boxers.
BEAUTIFUL DISPLAY OF BOXING SKILL
I watched Manny Pacquiao’s fight with Brandon Rios on the edge of my seat last night. Having seen a half dozen of Rios’ fights before, I had watched him walk through punches and walk down guys who were tough and sometimes more skillful, draw them into a slugfest and knock them out. After Manny’s KO by Marquez I was not sure what the after effects might be. Remember John Tate?… I do. He was NEVER the same again. (Historical note: that fight happened on the UT Campus here and shown prime time on ABC-TV… those were the days, but I digress.) I wasn’t sure if Manny could keep Rios away, much less hurt him. What we were treated to was a wonderful display of the sweet science. Flowing punch combos, fleet footed movement, headrolls under Rios’ countershots, and snapping power punches. Granted, Rios never wobbled but those shots HAD to be hurting despite him shaking his head and sticking his tongue out. Fact of the matter is, Rios could not mount his vaunted attack because Manny kept him off balance and on the receiving end for the whole fight. I was impressed with what Manny did. I may agree with you somewhat in that Manny did not seem to go for the KO even though he said he did late in the fight, but face it, Brandon Rios is one tough MoFo.
I thought it was a little unfair that you said Manny was not an elite fighter anymore. He just did what Floyd Mayweather does EVERY fight…
(as noted by some commenters on your fight report page)… Box carefully and don’t take unnecessary chances. Even so, he was more entertaining to watch than Floyd is.
As for what is next, I only hope it is not Provodnikov. At this point in
Manny’s career, the Russian might ruin him. Also I can’t believe that Freddy Roach would pit two of his best guys against each other. I would rather
see Manny or Provo against Floyd, who has four fights left on his contract and needs a really compelling opponent to bring the kind of money his last fight did.
But back to Manny. I think that if they did make the Floyd fight
(although about four years too late) you might see the old Manny come back. That’s what it would take to give him a chance against Floyd… speed, aggression and power punching in high volume. I have always thought that Floyd, deep down was scared of Manny, that’s why he has ducked him for so long (you will never convince me otherwise). Floyd could have had that fight any time he wanted but he wants that 0 on his record more than the money. “Interesting” opponents are few and far between for both men. I bet the chatter starts up again now. – David, Nashville
The Mayweather-Pacquiao chatter has indeed started up again and I have no desire to be a part of it because it is as inane, racist and ultimately pointless as it ever was.
I also hope that Pacquiao’s brain trust keeps him the hell away from Provo. Nothing good will come from that fight.
I don’t think I was being unfair by stating that Pacquiao is no longer “elite.” To my eyes, he has been on gradual slide since the Margarito fight in 2010. He lacked fire in the Shane Mosley fight in May of 2011. He was fortunate to get the decision over Marquez in their third bout in November of 2011. He competent against Bradley last June, and I believe he should have won that fight, but he also had a guy with broken wheels in front of him and he couldn’t catch him clean all fight. Then he was KTFO by Marquez. I thought he was intense and showed good form in that fight but he was also dropped by a long-range bomb in the third round – the kind of punch he would have avoided in previous years – before he was literally put to sleep.
I think it was fair to ask if Pacquiao was still “elite” after the Marquez loss.
I agree that he boxed “brilliantly,” as you put it, against Rios, and I thought he was more entertaining than Mayweather usually is (which really isn’t saying a lot), but as a professional boxing writer/columnist/editor/a__hole I have to put things into perspective. Rios is former lightweight titleholder who was a top-10 rated junior welterweight. He is not a world-rated welterweight, the division that Pacquiao has occupied since late 2009. Rios is a tough MF, as you noted. He’s got good inside craft and heavy hands, but he’s also a plodding stalker who does not cut the ring off well or have very quick hands or reflexes. He’s not an elite fighter and his trouble with lateral movement was exposed during the first half of his title-winning bout against Miguel Acosta, his gift decision over Abril and his loss to Alvarado.
Pac is definitely not finished as a world-class boxer, but beating Rios, even by shutout, doesn’t prove to me that he’s all the way back.
Photos / Chris Farina-Top Rank, Scott Heavey-Getty Images