Manny Pacquiao goes up a very prohibitive favorite against a tough customer in Ghana’s Joshua Clottey on March 13 (March 14, Philippine time) for the defense of his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown.
The Filipino bomber is riding on an 11-fight winning streak – eight of them by knockouts en route to being proclaimed the best pound for pound fighter in boxing today.
The Clottey fight will only be Manny’s third in the welterweight class and the first un-handicapped fight in the division.
Manny is seeking to register another spectacular win following the aborted bout with Floyd Mayweather Jnr. before he plunges into the electoral campaign where he is seeking a seat in the Philippine Congress.
Clottey is coming off a close split decision loss to Miguel Angel Cotto whom Manny badly battered en route to a stunning stoppage with just 55 seconds into the 12th round in November last year.
Clottey is one of the underrated welterweights who has never been stopped in his career and has been fighting at the welterweight limit and beyond since 1998, three years after Manny debuted as a 106-pound professional boxer.
The Ghanian carries a decent punch and is very durable and these qualities make him a dangerous opponent against top-tiered welterweights.
Aside from Mayweather and Shane Mosley, Pacquiao could find no better opponent than Clottey.
Clottey, however, is a slow opponent by Manny’s standards and does not have the counterpunching style that will disrupt the rhythm of the Filipino boxing champ. Clottey comes straight forward, inviting opponents to penetrate his hands-over-his-face-defense - a rather above average one – then waits for the man in front of him to commit to a brawl. He is a slugger and loves to throw short punches from the inside. He occasionally throws jabs that are crisp.
Manny’s trainer Freddie Roach says he saw flaws in Clottey’s fighting style and I agree with him.
Manny’s right crosses off Clottey’s jabs and right hooks to the body will bring down the Ghanian’s defense.
But unless Clottey develops overnight long uppercuts and left hooks that could catch Manny while the Filipino is darting out, Clottey will find the champion a difficult target to hit.
Manny will also try to penetrate Clottey’s defense by throwing powerful lead left straights after faking his rights.
The key is for Manny to keep a frenetic pace using lateral movements and head fakes while digging into the body of the Ghanian.
Again, Manny should stay away from the ropes as Clottey has good hand speed.
I see a late stoppage when Manny shall have broken down Clottey’s defense and frustrated him with his lighting quick speed in the early going.
Author: Edwin Espejo