If there’s one thing in boxing that’s certain, it’s nothing’s for certain. Mythical matchups and pound-for-pound lists are rooted on nothing more than one’s opinion or preference. With no physical product from which a conclusion can be derived, no fights’ result is cast in stone.
Don’t take my word for it.
Ask Mike Tyson’s handlers how they felt going into his fight with James “Buster” Douglas twenty years ago. They’d have exuded confidence. No way in hell that, by the end of the fight, an inconsistent fringe contender would’ve been thee Heavyweight Champion of the world. ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ wasn’t supposed to be stopped in the tenth round that night. He had a marquee fight with Evander Holyfield lurking around the corner!
Well, that’s why they fight the fights. On paper, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley wasn’t supposed to steamroll Antonio Margarito.
The thought of Carlos Quintana out boxing Paul ‘The Punisher’ Williams was unfathomable.
Lennox Lewis had bigger fish to fry and would blow Oliver McCall away.
Ross Purity? Who? Should be easy work for a young Wladimir Klitschko.
Kirkland Laing’s sole purpose being in Detroit, MI one September night in ’82 was to get Roberto Duran back into the win column.
Still don’t subscribe to the old adage?
This Saturday, Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao will defend his welterweight strap against rugged Ghanaian and perennial contender, Joshua Clottey.
Pacquiao’s meteoric rise to superstardom has been well documented, and then some. Though humble in his approach, the carnage he’s spread over the last two years, through four weight classes, speaks volumes. And just to ensure that everyone’s ears are open and acutely aware; Pacquiao once again plans to serenade his rabid fan base with his unique vocal stylings, over the sound of his band live in concert following his next fight.
Waiting in the wings for ‘Pac Man’ are a Congressional election in his native Philippines, and a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
The latter failed to come to fruition after the two sides were unable to reach a compromise on the implementation of an extraordinary drug testing procedure. Floyd Mayweather wanted random blood testing up until at least 14 days of the fight, and Manny Pacquiao would go no lower than 24 days. Before that major snag, the bout was on pace to be the biggest in box office history.
Enter Joshua Clottey. Quick and painless negotiations (both are promoted by Top Rank) led to the fight being made before Clottey could count his blessings. The fight was made so quick, in fact, that angry fans and media were never able to deal boxing the full brunt of their frustration over the Mayweather fight falling through.
Clottey had been inactive since June of last year, when he dropped a disputed decision to eventual Pacquiao victim Miguel Cotto. Most observers (this writer included) believed that Clottey had the fight in the bag heading into the championship rounds, but gave the momentum right back to Cotto by allowing himself to be outworked.
For that reason, among many others, one would be hard-pressed to find more than a couple of people in every one-hundred, who believe Clottey will end Pac Man’s streak. To compound matters, Clottey’s long-time trainer, Godwin Kotey, was denied a work Visa by the US Embassy in Accra, Ghana, and hasn’t been able to prepare Joshua for the biggest fight of his life. It’s also been reported that, though no reason has been given, Clottey broke training camp two weeks ago to return to the Bronx. He did spar with light welterweight Francisco 'Gato' Figueroa while in NYC, but for a fighter to break camp early ahead of the biggest fight of his career is a little offsetting.
The correct algebraic formula would look something like this: Manny Pacquiao’s lightning speed, shocking power, unorthodox angles, high work-rate, endless stamina, superior corner, and unmatched athleticism, divided by Joshua Clottey, his lack of punching power, the huge discrepancy in speed, his previous big fight performances and the huge stage for this one, equals zero chance for the ‘Grandmaster.’
Not so fast though. That equation all depends on what color glasses one views things from. It could spell doom for Clottey, or it can all fall into place so perfectly that it sets the stage for the gargantuan upset. The conditions are ideal; no one would ever see it coming.
Here are five reasons Joshua Clottey has a shot at pulling off the upset.
Joshua Clottey has long been known for leading with his head in front of his right hand. An allegedly accidental clash of heads in his fight with Cotto opened a nasty cut over Miguel’s eye that would affect him for the rest of the fight. Virtually every other Clottey opponent has complained of head-butts and, early in his career, excessive use of the head combined with other fouls netted him a DQ loss to Carlos Baldomir.
Pacquiao is fairly prone to cuts around his eyes. He hasn’t suffered any lacerations around the thin-skinned area since his second fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in 2008, but it clearly bothered him in that fight and a bad cut in his first fight with Erik Morales some years ago has been attributed to him losing that fight. If Clottey’s large cranium and rough hair make contact with Pacquiao’s head, will his face hold up coming off such a short layoff?
2. NOT ENOUGH REST FOR PACQUIAO
Pacquiao may have turned in the best effort of a Hall of Fame career in disposing of Cotto, but he didn’t leave the ring unscathed. He took as much punishment in that fight as had in his previous two, suffering a cauliflower ear that had to be drained immediately to avoid hardening, as well as much bruising and discoloration on his face. For a fighter at the pinnacle of the sport, coming off of one mega-fight, four months is an unusually short amount of time to be stepping back into the squared circle with another tough, world-class opponent.
The 15-year pro Clottey on the other hand, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday three days after this fight, has had nine months to heal from his bout with Cotto. Midway through the bout, Clottey sustained a minor knee injury that threatened to end things early when he was slammed to the mat by a frustrated Cotto. The inactivity allows for the knee to be a non-issue and benefits the veteran fighter.
3. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Arguably, Clottey has the best defense Manny will have seen to this point. It’s proven to work to his detriment at times when he gets overly defensive, but his Winky Wright style shell guard ensures that he doesn’t often take flush leather upstairs. Because of this, he’s been able to maintain his iron-jawed punch resistance, unlike previous Pacquiao opponents, Cotto and Ricky Hatton.
Both of those men, especially the former, were known for having dicey chins to begin with. The lack of an adequate defense, that would include consistent head-movement, exposed both men to a large amount of punishment over their careers’. Contrarily, Clottey has never appeared hurt or even buzzed in 39 professional encounters. He’s only been dropped once, in his last fight with Cotto by a jab, and that was more a result of Clottey being off-balance when he took the punch.
4. SIZE DON’T WIN FIGHTS, BUT IT CAN HELP
Having had the opportunity to see the condition Oscar De La Hoya was in when he stepped into the ring with Manny Pacquiao, it’s imperative that Clottey doesn’t make the same mistake of trying to come in too small. Nothing in his past suggests that he will.
Clottey’s a big welterweight who’s competed at light middleweight as recently as 2008. Unlike Cotto, Clottey isn’t being asked to fight Pacquiao at a catchweight under the 147 lb. limit. Joshua once, unofficially, went up to 170 lbs. on the night of a fight, so those two pounds could be vital. He will be the biggest fighter Pacquiao has fought, and the first legitimate welterweight that he will fight at the welterweight limit.
5. THE EX-FACTOR
Clottey’s trainer for this fight is a New York based locksmith by the name of Lenny De Jesus. To Pacquiao fans, he’s best remembered as Manny’s former cut man a few years back. He’s been around Manny and Freddie for a number of training camps, and claims that familiarity will, along with what he sees in Clottey, will propel his man to victory. How true that is remains to be seen, but it can’t hurt.
This fight, dubbed simply ‘The Event,’ will be the first to take place at Jerry Jones state of the art Cowboys Stadium, and a crowd of 45,000 is expected to provide a surreal boxing atmosphere. The adulation and everything Joshua Clottey has ever wanted from this sport is within reach if he can find a way to emerge victorious this Saturday. Beating Manny Pacquiao would erase a fighting lifetime of frustration.
But is Joshua willing to go somewhere he’s never been before in order to etch his name into the boxing history book?
He faded in the championship rounds with Miguel Cotto.
Manny Pacquiao’s speed will overwhelm him.
But there we go again, setting the table perfectly for the upset. Clottey has every element and ingredient at his disposal.
‘The Event,’ will make boxing history as soon as the opening bell for the preliminary bout sounds and prospect, Rodrigo Garcia, runs out to meet perceived stepping stone, Calvin Pitts. Can Joshua Clottey close the show by making it an event to remember?