Will It Be Manny Pacquiao or Joshua Clottey In Dallas? Does Anyone Even Care?
It's hard to believe that just a few months back the sports world was punch-drunk and delirious with excitement about the faintest possibility of Manny Pacquiao meeting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing ring. Although it's always exciting to see Manny take the limelight and lace up the gloves, Saturday night's main event against Joshua Clottey in Jerry Jones' $1.2-billion Taj Mahal is a brutal, blue-ballin' dick tease that makes a boxing fan lusty for “the fight that should have been.” Unfortunately, PacMan vs. Clottey is like settling for a hand-job in the backseat of a Ford Escort rather than nailing the cheerleader under the bleachers. Sure, we'll take it, but it's not really the marquee superfight the sport desperately needs, particularly as Manny continues to bluff about leaving the ring to dabble in Filipino politics and acting. Full fight preview and HBO's Fight Week videos after the jump.
Manny has now won his last 11 fights, but Clottey shouldn't be underestimated. Nicknamed “Grand Master,” the Ghanaian-born boxer is celebrated for his brute strength and suburb tactical defensive technique. He's a workhorse when it comes to blocking punches and turning up the offensive heat in the late rounds. The main factor, however, is his sheer size. Clottey is the biggest fighter Manny has ever encountered. It's just hard to believe anyone other than Mayweather has the natural combination of speed and power to bring down Pacquiao, let alone defend against his thunder punch and lightening-quick agility.
During yesterday's press conference, Clottey boasted about his defense tactics, bragging, “It doesn't matter if he throws 1,000 punches if I'm blocking them. I don't waste punches.” Pacman's trainer, Freddie Roach, stung with a quick rebuttal: “Blocking punches doesn't win fights.” Be prepared for Clottey to draw the fight out as long as possible by using his size as a defensive advantage. If Manny wants to bring down Clottey, the key is to dodge his counter-punches with snappy side-to-side maneuvers to left and right. In typical fashion, he'll counter Clottey's forward assault with quick counter-jabs.
Unlike his November welterweight bout against Miguel Cotto, he needs to establish an aggressive rhythm of punches right out of the gate. If Manny can manage to wear down Clottey's blocks, he'll probably begin moving in and out during in the later rounds to deliver his most strategic blows. If you're betting on this fight, Pacquiao remains the Vegas bookmakers' favorite by -700. Remember, in addition to being a boxer and superb athlete, Manny's also the sixth richest athlete in the world. PacMan has deity-like status in the Philippines and a multimillion-dollar entertainment career at stake, so the last thing he wants is to go down at the height of his celebrity after a two-year win streak.
Bob Arum, PacMan's promoter and Top Rank Boxing's shrewd carny-in-chief, said earlier this week, “I have been around Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, and I can say that Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter I have seen.” However, if a feisty and immovable Clottey manages to upset the mighty PacMan in front of 50,000-some spectators in Arlington and a pay-per-view audience, the real loser is b*tch-ass Floyd Mayweather, who strayed away from fighting boxing's international superstar while he was at the top of his game.
JoePA Prediction: Pacquiao takes the fight by TKO in 11.