Larry Merchant feels Freddie Roach has again reinvented Pacquiao; calls a Bradley rematch an even fight

Manny Pacquiao following his spirited victory over Brandon Rios on Saturday night (Photo: Chris Farina – Top Rank)

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By Chris Robinson

The spotlight shined bright upon Manny Pacquiao this past weekend, as he returned to the ring against Brandon Rios in an effort to find out if he still has some of the same magic in him that saw him stamp himself as one of this generation’s elite prizefighters.

Inside of the Venetian Resort’s Coati Arena in Macau, China, Pacquiao offered up an impressive display by hammering Rios with a bevy of punches from various angles as he carved out a wide unanimous decision victory.

Watching the action unfold from ringside, longtime HBO analyst Larry Merchant had a strong curiosity as to how Pacquiao would show himself following his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez this past December.

“I thought there were some questions to be asked and answers to be questioned,” Merchant stated. “The question was ‘how would Manny come back from the knockout at his age against a good, strong, young opponent who was matched with him because it’s a good matchup?’ Would the matchup give Manny a chance to bounce back or would the matchup bounce him out of the game?”

Pacquiao wasn’t exactly on a seek and destroy mission against Rios, as he seemed perfectly content with boxing his way towards a victory. Merchant feels the change in style from the Filipino star is a sign of him still evolving as a fighter.

“It showed that he still wants to fight because he got in great shape and he and Freddie are reinventing him again, in the sense,” Merchant stated. “When Manny first came he was basically just all pressure and punching. And then over time under Freddie, he became a really good, what I would categorize as a boxer-puncher. And now they are transitioning into being a boxer-puncher.

“And I thought he was very impressive in that sense of it, that he showed that he still wants to get after it and that he can learn to fight within himself rather than always on the edge,” Merchant added. “And of course that’s what made him what he was. But he showed that he still has enough spring in him to keep going for a while.”

Pacquiao is slated to fight again in April and there is a strong possibility that he could be facing Tim Bradley in a rematch of their June 2012 encounter.

Bradley would edge Pacquiao via a controversial split-decision that night, and Merchant feels that a second encounter between the two looks be dead even on paper.

“Bradley found out in their first fight that he couldn’t stand and trade with Manny,” said Merchant. “And that when he boxed him he did better. And we saw him outbox [Juan Manuel] Marquez. So I think, going in, that’s an even fight.”

PLEASE  CHECK  BELOW  for more all-access Pacquiao vs. Rios coverage…

Roger Mayweather feels a victory over Tim Bradley in a rematch would bring Pacquiao back

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Floyd Mayweather Sr. not impressed by Brandon Rios: ‘The guy can’t fight!’

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Rashad Holloway believes Pacquiao must beat Bradley or Marquez convincingly for a Floyd fight


Is Mikey Garcia telling Top Rank that he wants to fight Pacquiao? Claims he’d stop the Filipino star

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Adrien Broner takes shots at Brandon Rios: ‘I guess he was busting nuts all afternoon in China’

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Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini: ‘Alex Ariza should be kissing Freddie Roach’s ass!’

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Tim Bradley says he dominated Marquez; only has intest in facing Mayweather or Pacquiao

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Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios Official Weigh-In from Macau, China [11.22.2013]

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Sugar Ray Leonard gives his quick take on Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

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Tim Bradley talks Pacquiao vs. Rios: ‘Freddie Roach always plays mental games’


Roy Jones Jr. – ‘Pacquiao is clearly the better boxer; Rios is clearly the better brawler’

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Marco Antonio Barrera believes that Manny Pacquiao’s movement will be key against Rios

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Freddie Roach sees flaws in Floyd Mayweather’s game and hopes Pacquiao can one day face him

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Mike Alvarado: ‘I’ve got Pacquiao in a later stoppage against Rios’

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Floyd Mayweather Sr. reacts to the brawl between Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza

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Freddie Roach opens up on the confrontation with Team Rios, his racist comments, and the aftermath

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Near brawl in Macau as Freddie Roach confronts Team Rios and gets kicked by Alex Ariza

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Manny Pacquiao showing off his speed and power in Macau ahead of showdown with Rios

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Manny Pacquiao full core workout in Macau, China days before clash with Brandon Rios

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Manny Pacquiao opens up on his training for Rios, Brandon’s power, the Typhoon in the Philippines, and more

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Freddie Roach calls Brandon Rios a ‘pretender’ and eyes Floyd Mayweather for Manny Pacquiao

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Shawn Porter feels the old Manny Pacquiao will return against Brandon Rios


Brandon Rios believes that his pressure will negate Manny Pacquiao’s speed

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Miguel Diaz says Pacquiao’s knockout loss to Marquez ‘means nothing’; favors him over Rios


Juan Manuel Marquez favors Pacquiao over Brandon Rios but shoots down a fifth fight with Manny

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Brandon Rios says people in China don’t like Manny Pacquiao

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Gennady Golovkin feels Brandon Rios could suffer the same fate as Margarito did against Pacquiao


Robert Garcia opens up on Alex Ariza joining Team Rios; insists he won’t take any drama in camp

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Chris Robinson can be reached at


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