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    Rios: 'Pacquiao still has it'
    By Alder Almo Updated Wednesday November 27, 2013 - 1:26am
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    Manny Pacquiao, from the Philippines, right, lands a right to Brandon Rios of the United States during their WBO international welterweight title fight Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Macau. Pacquiao defeated Rios by unanimous decision on Sunday to take the WBO international welterweight title and return to his accustomed winning ways after successive defeats. AP Photo/ Vincent Yu

    MACAU - The Manny Pacquiao of old triumphantly returned to the boxing ring last Sunday, earning back the adulation he once lost after that brutal sixth round knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last year.

    Fight fans and experts alike are almost one in saying that Pacquiao is back.

    After losing his last two fights prior to this, boxing pundits were ready to dismiss the 35-year-old former eight-division champion, saying he is already past his prime.

    But Pacquiao found the fountain of youth and sprang back to life with the unanimous decision over a much bigger and younger opponent in Mexican-American Brandion Rios.

    Pacquiao not only earned back his old spot after that career-shaking knockout loss to Marquez but also the admiration of his opponent.

    "He's very quick. I tip my hat off to Pacquiao. He still has it," said Rios, who failed to live up to his pre-fight talk that he'll be a monster in the ring.

    Rios, 27, instead turned out to be a monster that was an easy target to smaller but smarter Pacquiao.

    "The awkwardness (of him being a southpaw) and the speed affected me a lot," added Rios, who never faced a speedy southpaw like Pacquiao in his career.

    Even Rios' trainer Robert Garcia conceded that Pacquiao and his corner schooled them.   

    "Pacquiao fought great. He came with a great plan," Garcia admitted.

    Garcia is now 0-2 against Pacquiao and Roach. He was also at the corner of Antonio Margarito, who lost in the same style the way Rios did, three years ago.  

    "I think taking a year off helped him a lot," said Garcia referring to Pacquiao's long layoff after the Marquez loss in December last year.

    "He recovered well and I'm sure he trained like never before. He had a lot to prove and to show and he did. I'm sure a lot of us have this question: what Pacquiao are we going to see," Garcia added.

    Pacquiao answered that with a virtuoso performance last Sunday.

    "I think we have seen the best Pacquiao," Garcia said.  

    ***

    (Editor's note: This special coverage of the Pacquiao-Rios fight here in Macau is made possible by Cebu Pacific Air, why every Juan flies.)

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