By now, you’ve heard all the reasons why Manny Pacquiao’s remarkable run since December 2008 isn’t quite as impressive as it appears.
Oscar De La Hoya was so spent from making the welterweight limit for the first time in 7 1/2 years that Pacquiao pummeling him into submission was inevitable. Ricky Hatton was shot before they even got in the ring, so Pacquiao’s spectacular one-punch, second-round knockout was an aberration.
And Miguel Cotto, much like Hatton after Floyd Mayweather Jr. knocked him out, hasn’t been the same since Antonio Margarito brutalized him.
There might be marginal validity to each excuse, but discrediting Pacquiao’s accomplishments is about as unfair to the Filipino superstar as assuming he is on steroids just because he has become one of two top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, despite getting older and moving up in weight. If Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) defeats Ghana’s Joshua Clottey on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (HBO Pay-Per-View; $49.95; 9 p.m.), Pacquiao’s detractors will say the fast, powerful southpaw merely defeated someone who had already been beaten by a guy Pacquiao dominated (Cotto).
But Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs, 1 NC) is a big, strong welterweight whose lone losses, all to former welterweight champs, come with asterisks.
Clottey could’ve just as easily been declared the winner against Puerto Rico’s Cotto, who beat him by split decision June 13 at Madison Square Garden. Clottey also was dominating Mexico’s Margarito for four rounds three years ago in Atlantic City, before injuries to both hands prohibited him from throwing enough punches during the second half of that fight to win on points.
His first loss was a debatable disqualification defeat to Argentina’s Carlos Baldomir more than a decade ago.
Moreover, he has shown a granite chin in 39 professional fights. And Clottey, who’ll turn 33 on Tuesday, is just 15 months older than Pacquiao, so age isn’t a factor, either.
Thus if Pacquiao produces a fourth straight tremendous performance in beating Clottey on Saturday night, let’s not try to find some reason why it isn’t as impressive as it seems. Maybe Manny Pacquiao is just as great as everything he has accomplished over the past 15 months indicates.
JOSHUA’S JUDGMENT: Mayweather’s supporters probably consider Clottey naïve, but Clottey doesn’t suspect Pacquiao of steroid use and isn’t concerned about Pacquiao possessing any unfair advantages entering their fight.
"I don’t want to do that, because I respect him so much," Clottey said. "He’s a very nice guy. I feel comfortable around him. He’s a nice, classy guy. He respects everybody."
Mayweather and his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., have strongly suggested that Pacquiao has benefitted from performance-enhancing drugs in recent years. The younger Mayweather’s demand for random drug testing halted negotiations two months ago for a fight that was tentatively scheduled to take place Saturday night.
Pacquiao has never tested positive for steroids or any other illegal substance, but critics contend he’s hiding something because he wouldn’t agree to at least submit to blood testing 14 days prior to a fight against Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs).
VINNY’S VICTORY: Oakland’s Vinny Scolpino, Clottey’s manager, couldn’t believe their luck when promoter Bob Arum called him about boxing Pacquiao once the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations got messy.
The previous fight Arum’s Top Rank Inc. offered Clottey was a 10-rounder against Mexico’s Michael Rosales (26-3, 22 KOs). Instead of fighting Rosales in the main event of a "Top Rank Live" broadcast on FOX Sports, Clottey will challenge arguably the best boxer in the world before a crowd in excess of 40,000.
Clottey, who made what was then a career-high $550,000 to fight Cotto, will make his first seven-figure purse for facing Pacquiao.
"This is the biggest opportunity of Joshua’s career," Scolpino said. "You can’t ask for anything more than this. Now Josh just has to go take advantage of it and he’ll be in best position possible."
STADIUM TOUR: Arum and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are ecstatic about the possibility of drawing a crowd of 45,000 for the first fight at Cowboys Stadium.
Ticket sales for this card have made Arum push harder than ever to promote fights at stadiums, something he has often talked about doing in recent years. Negotiations are all but complete for a June 5 bout at Yankee Stadium that’ll pit WBA super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman (28-0, 8 KOs, 1 NC) against Cotto (34-2, 27 KOs).
Foreman, an aspiring rabbi from New York, trains in Paterson.
Author: KEITH IDEC