Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines (R) competes against Brandon Rios of the US during a welterweight boxing bout in Macau on November 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Dale de la Rey (DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)
MACAU -- The celestial boxing career of Manny Pacquiao rumbled out of a lull Sunday morning.
Some 350 days after going face-down in a shocking knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Pacquiao returned to the ring to render a foe overmatched.
From the get-go inside the wildly pro-Pacquiao Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort in this Chinese protectorate, Pacquiao looked the superior athlete on the way to a doubtless 12-round unanimous decision against the Mexican-American Brandon Rios.
It stemmed the two-fight slide of 2012 that had people wondering about Pacquiao's immediate future, and it dealt Rios his second straight defeat in his pay-per-view debut.
"This is not about my comeback," Pacquiao, a congressman from the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, said. "My victory is a symbol of my people's comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy."
While Pacquiao might not have resembled the force of late last decade, he did show abundant flurries of his compelling speed, both in landing punches on Rios' durable chin and often in eluding Rios when Rios came hunting.
As Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach lampooned Rios' shape in pre-fight, calling him "lazy" and "chubby," he would not find controverting evidence here given Rios' glaring relative slowness. As Rios exhausted his bag of ideas, twice referee Genaro Rodriguez warned him about hitting Pacquiao in the temples while the boxers interlocked. The midday bout did not produce the knockout Roach forecasted, but neither did it deepen any doubts about Pacquiao.
"What got me was just the speed and his awkwardness," Rios said. "He never hurt me at all, and I never got stunned at all, but the quickness just caught me off guard."
A crowd of 13,101 adored the mismatch, chanting "Manny! Manny!" frequently, producing near-silence during Rios flourishes and roaring whenever Pacquiao connected. The only roar that matched those for Pacquiao came for global citizen David Beckham, a Pacquiao fan who greeted the Filipino congressman backstage before the bout.