Note: This article will be updated tonight with round by round coverage of tonight’s main event.
Tonight, top welterweights Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey do battle in front of an estimated 45,000 fans at Dallas Stadium. The site is billed by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as the most avant-garde entertainment facility in the world, and will serve as a litmus test on boxing’s current drawing power.
For challenger and perennial contender Joshua Clottey, this fight represents a golden, and possibly final chance to exorcise past performance demons. In his 2 biggest fights against Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto, Clottey appeared to be in the driver’s seat early before suffering collapses. With Margarito, Clottey dominated early before going into a shell following a hand injury and losing a decision. Against Cotto, Clottey seemed close to forcing a stoppage before inexplicably dropping his punch output and losing a controversial split decision.
Pacquiao is taking on his second consecutive top 5 welterweight. Although he is the favorite, there exists the possibility of a letdown since the original opponent today was supposed to be Floyd Mayweather in the most lucrative fight in boxing history (both men could not come to terms on Olympic style drug testing). However, an impressive showing by the Filipino icon can put him in the driver’s seat should talks resume with Mayweather as expected later this year.
Joshua Clottey’s mindset tonight must be constant punching and pressure. He’s facing the most dynamic fighter in the game today, one who never stops throwing punches for 3 minutes of every round. Simply hiding behind his tight guard will just result in him being outworked and posting a lopsided decision loss. Clottey has underrated handspeed, and although it’s not on the level of Pacquiao, he must be willing to take chances and punch with Pacquiao when the Filipino darts in to let loose a combination. Manny has yet to be consistently hit by a bigger man, so Clottey as a big welterweight has a shot to wear down Pacquiao if he can land with authority and regularly for several rounds.
Manny Pacquiao’s key to victory remains doing what he does better than anyone else; punches from every angle, and continuous movement. As a defensive-first fighter, Clottey instinctively looks to block his opponents strikes first before launching his own firepower. This is a huge advantage for Pacquiao, who will have to keep Clottey constantly turning through movement and prevent him from getting set to launch any offense or counterpunch. Clottey later admitted after the Cotto fight he clammed up and became cautious later after the first round flash knockdown. If Pacquiao can land hard early, the Ghanian welterweight may mentally go to the same place.
Clottey looks great as usual, but I don’t believe he’ll have an answer for Pacquiao’s speed and movement. The challenger makes it a competitive fight, but in the end Pacquiao lands more punches, and Clottey more than likely will have stretches of inactivity where he sticks to defense and hurts himself badly on the cards. A Pacquiao knockout would be shocking considering Clottey’s durability, so the prediction is Manny Pacquiao by clear decision over Joshua Clottey, probably by the score of 116-112.
Author: Ismael AbduSalaam