Ghanian Joshua Clottey heads to this weekend’s bout with Filipino ring sensation Manny Pacquiao a prohibitive underdog. Figuratively, he needs to change continents to have a Chinaman’s chance.
If Clottey was fighting a Manny Pacquiao circa 2005 at the same weight level, the odds would have been stacked heavily in his favor.
Trouble is, Manny has since morphed into a complete fighter and is no longer a left-handed happy bomber. He has added a vicious right hook to his vastly improved arsenal and now throws punches at odder angles. His under-rated short left uppercut thrown like an underhanded twisting left hook, one that put Miguel Angel Cotto to the canvas in the third round, is as dangerous as his piercing left straight. Frankly, there is no punch in Manny’s arsenal that cannot put down even the heaviest of welterweights once it hits its target squarely.
In addition, Manny has developed his speed not just as an offensive weapon. It has also become his primary defensive strategy. After all, you cannot hurt what you cannot hit.
Erik Morales, the last man to hand Manny a loss, provided the blueprint on how to defeat the Filipino bomber.
Tall that he is, Morales fought tall by throwing stiff jabs, sometimes doubling them up, and unleashing uppercuts to a charging Pacquiao.
Morales also opted to fight from the outside where he exploited his reach advantage. He made a mistake of challenging Manny in a macho display of firepower in the last two rounds in the first of their three epic fights and it nearly cost Morales the bout.
Joshua Clottey must be aggressive with his jabs if he is to disrupt Manny’s frenetic speed and rhythm. He should also throw right leads and move side to side. If he stays with his ‘passive defense’, as Pacquiao coach Freddie Roach described it, he will be eaten alive. Joshua’s defense might hold up in the first couple of rounds but Manny will eventually break down that wall with punishing right hooks to the body and left straights to the solar plexus.
Manny will make Joshua respect his punches by way of right hooks off the Ghanian’s jabs in the early going and move in with his vaunted lefts in the middle rounds.
Of course, Clottey must lure Manny in a close quarter, phone-booth war of attrition to be able to throw his short punches, his main strength, to have a chance at upending Manny’s incredible winning streak.
Otherwise, it could be a short evening or a long agonizing night for him.
Author: Edwin Espejo