It is quite hard not to look past Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent, former IBF welterweight champion, Joshua Clottey. It can be argued that Clottey is perhaps the toughest challenge for Pacquiao at the welterweight division, being the fact that he is the physically biggest welterweight the Fighting Pride of the Philippines will have to hurdle in the latter’s first defense of his WBO welterweight crown.
That said, Clottey do poses some serious threat to Pacquiao. Naturally bigger and taller, many boxing analyst concur that it is Clottey’s almost impregnable high guard and his granite chin will spell troubles for the top pound-for-pound king. One should take into consideration that Clottey was never once hurt in a single fight of his career.
Clottey has already slugged it out with the elite names of his division – Zab Judah, Antonio Margarito, and Miguel Cotto. Of the three, Clottey convincingly trumped Judah, who, like Pacquiao, is a lightning-handed southpaw.
His losses to Margarito and Cotto can be easily brushed aside. He was clearly winning the fight against Margarito when he broke on of his hands. Against Cotto, he would have won should he decided not to let his foot off the gas.
But his win against Judah should, if it does, register some cause for alarm for Pacquiao and his crew. Judah’s speed was clearly negated by the uncanny timing and relentless attack employed the Face of Ghana’s boxing. If Clottey can do that again and early into the fight, then he might have the chance to score an upset against boxing’s biggest superstar.
Having said that, against the caliber of Pacquiao, it is always easier said than done. Since his loss to Erik Morales, Pacquiao is yet to taste defeat again. But with the vast improvement that is apparently showing since that fateful defeat, one can only say that it is hard to beat Pacquiao and would be arguably right in saying so.
Even the size factor imposed by the Ghanaian is nothing new to the Filipino superstar, who felled physically bigger opponents in David Diaz, Oscar dela Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto. However, there is a question that can be imposed on Pacquiao with regards to bigger guys.
Did all boxers mentioned use to the full extent their size advantage? Of the four, two were able, at least visibly, to do so.
Hatton used his size and strength to roughhouse Pacquiao and was knocked out cold in the second round. Cotto used his physical dominance to push Pacquiao to the ropes and succeeded in bringing the hurt to the Filipino champion.
However, he was no longer the same when he got decked to the canvas in the fourth round and was in full retreat, occasionally firing a volley of punches to keep the stalking Pacquiao at bay but he was obviously looking to survive the fight and avoid being added to Pacquiao’s KO victims.
Where Hatton failed and Cotto had little success, Clottey has the chance to excel. Hatton, though deemed bigger, was just as tall as Pacquiao. Cotto on the other hand, lost the will to push Pacquiao back.
Clottey certainly can push Pacquiao back to the ropes the way Cotto did. He can even rough it up with the Filipino champ the same way Hatton attempted to concoct. But what will provide Clottey an added extra is his almost impenetrable high guard and that iron-cast chin.
He can close the gap between him and Pacquiao behind his locked arms and launch a body assault or a couple shots to the head and cover up again, much like a Spartan phalanx. If he can block most of Pacquiao’s punches using that tight guard of his and counter with his own power shots, he can hurt Pacquiao so bad that eventually, speed will be not much of a factor.
If that do happens, then Ghana’s proud ring warrior may be able to unseat boxing’s king.
But then again, against Manny Pacquiao, it is always easier said than done.