This coming Saturday, March 13th, 2009 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, a great day for the sport of Boxing will grace us fans of the sport when Manny "The Destroyer/Pac Man/ The Greatest" Pacquiao fighting out of General Santos City, Philippines via Kibawe, Philippines squares off against Joshua "Grand Master" Clottey, fighting out of Bronx, New York via Accra, Ghana for Manny Pacquiao's WBO Welterweight Belt, as well as a chance for Clottey to upset the champion Pacquiao for his status as the "consensus" best fighter in the World, pound-for-pound. For those of you who are familiar with my writing, I pay no mind to records, regardless of how stellar these two fighters have done in their respective careers.
As I stated in the title; this is a difficult fight to pick a winner. Especially due to the fact that both of these two warriors are going to bring their "A-Game" this coming Saturday night. If you held a gun to my head regarding a winner in this fight, I would have to lean towards Manny Pacquiao via late (say 10th or 11th round) stoppage either at the hands of Clottey's corner, or with Clottey standing afloat; however the most likely outcome would be Manny by a fairly comfortable decision on points in the range of 117-111 or 116-114, unanimously. The reason it is hard to pick a winner is because there cannot be a "loser" in a fight such as this one, especially when you have a fighter like Manny Pacquiao taking on another fighter who is arguably the most ducked and avoided welterweight in a division that is just as stacked with talent as the current crop of fighters in the Super-Middleweight division.
As I said- if you held a gun to my head, the aforementioned would be my pick, however there are a few things about Joshua Clottey that are widely ignored by many people, simply because they do not know who he is, or do not know his history as a fighter. In Joshua's last outing, he was defeated by Miguel Cotto who Manny bludgeoned over the course of twelve rounds before Manny stopped Cotto in the 12th and final round of their championship fight. The intrigue leading into this Saturday's fight is the fact that while Manny completely dismantled, obliterated and ultimately made Miguel look very amateurish leading into what many feel was the "defining" win of Manny's career, Clottey was able to take their common opponent in Cotto into deep water in a fight that quite a few felt Joshua Clottey won, despite being knocked down in the first and giving Miguel Cotto problems throughout the course of their fight. When the tallies were read, Joshua had dropped a split decision to Miguel Cotto, as opposed to being completely blown out of the water in the same manner that Cotto was against Manny Pacquiao.
Another thing to ponder about this Saturday's fight is the fact that if anyone is adept at dealing with a shit-storm of punches flying in, it is Joshua Clottey who fought Antonio Margarito in 2006, in a fight where Joshua came out of the gates, and essentially shut Margarito's heavy-duty (as well as similar-to-Pacquiao's) offense for the first five rounds of their fight, at which point Joshua broke his right hand when he landed a shot on Margarito. As Joshua found himself having to fight the "Tijuana Tornado" in Margarito with one hand that was still good, Joshua never gave up and was still standing after 12 rounds and approximately 1100 punches thrown by the heavy-handed Margarito after Margarito was able to get his offense going after Joshua broke his hand. Before the Margarito fight, there were three welterweights who were continually avoided- Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and current Junior Middleweight contender (who incidentally bested Antonio Margarito in a 12 round thriller via unanimous decision) Paul "The Punisher" Williams. These were the three (then) Welterweights who were much like Ronald "Winky" Wright in the Junior Middleweight division who were all considered "high risk, low reward" fighters, meaning that they'd likely beat the hell out of you, and you wouldn't make a lot of money in looking bad losing to them.
Before I get off of the Joshua Clottey "Kool-Aid" I must also point out that Joshua is a naturally larger Welterweight than Pacquiao, standing one-and-a-half inches taller than Manny, and also has a three inch advantage in reach which combined with Joshua's natural ability to shut down offense with the use of his jab and tentative nature as a fighter who is more predisposed to picking his opponents apart; begs the question "how will Manny deal with Joshua's measured pace?" Not only that, but Joshua has slowed and defeated southpaw speed in the past when he beat Jab Zudah via technical decision in a fight where Judah was unable to continue due to a nasty cut caused by an accidental headbutt by Clottey. And Zab, as many know is a very fast fighter until he either gets complacent, slowed by body-shots and low blows (ala' Cotto) or picked apart by the likes of Floyd Mayweather Junior who as a speedy fighter, was having a bit of adversity handling Judah's speed for the first half of their fight.
But alas there is the wrecking machine fighting out of General Santos City named Manny Pacquiao who has continually stepped up his competition, has carried his power, carried his chin, and most importantly for him- speed as he has climbed from the ranks of the 108 pound division, all the way up to the 147 pound division. Manny is a chimera. He is a fighter who has built a career off of beating up on and stopping fighters who are much larger than himself. Aside from Manny's trainer Freddie Roach's tutelage; Manny has dismantled opponents with shocking power, lightning fast speed, and the ability to make his opponents pay for throwing the same punch more than twice.
Several of Pacquiao's sparring partners have stated (to the direct effect of) "that when you throw the same punch more than twice against Manny, he makes you pay for it." In other words, Manny is very unorthodox and is also very adept at moving in and moving out of the way of his opponents punches with excellent timing and volume that to date, only three people have been able to keep up with. One of the fighters who will be on the undercard this Saturday night who will fight Humberto Soto and who was also beaten by Pacquiao- David Diaz- even stated that it wasn't so much Manny's power (despite being stopped by Manny in the 9th round of their WBC Lightweight title fight) that got to him, rather Manny's speed. Diaz even stated in his post fight interview that Manny was just "fast....so fuckin' fast."
The beauty part about Manny Pacquiao's style is that he will trade punches, blow-for-blow with anyone, and also has become very adept at not getting hit as often as he used to. In other words- Manny always provides fight fans with the most entertaining fights.
At the end of the day, I see this fight going one way, and that is in favor of Pacquiao and I base this solely on the fact that Pacquiao is too fast, too busy, and too smart.
I think that in the first four rounds, Manny will have his offense shut down by Clottey who as previously stated is a bigger fighter with a great chin and a great jab, but as the fight ventures outside of the fourth, Manny will get the slower fighter Clottey's timing down and then proceed to beat on Joshua like Joshua stole Manny's milk money. I think that rounds four through eight will be the rounds where Manny gets Joshua's timing down, and from the eighth round until the twelfth or sooner, Manny will proceed to not "expose" Joshua Clottey (how can a fighter "expose" another who is a world class fighter?) rather embarrass him en route to the unanimous decision or late stoppage that I alluded to earlier in this pre-fight analysis.
I must say this though- Anyone should be hard-pressed to count Joshua Clottey out of this fight for two very important reasons that run in tandem with one-another: First, if anyone is ripe for an upset loss, it is Manny Pacquiao because he has absolutely nothing left to prove in his career, whereas Joshua Clottey has come up on the short end of two decisions that have left him with the mindset that he has everything to prove- and he will do anything to prove his pundits wrong- especially when it comes to fighting an all-time-great such as Manny Pacquiao.
Nevertheless, this fight is going to be a wild ride and will be available on Pay-Per-View this coming Saturday, March 13th, 2010. Sadly, I have to work that night, so I'll likely be catching the results here at Doghouseboxing.com.
Side notes, and undercard information:
Humberto Soto will be fighting former World Boxing Council Lightweight Champion David Diaz in a fight that will likely provide a lot of fireworks, as Diaz, fighting out of Chicago, Illinois is always game, has a ton of heart, and carries a "won't quit until you put me on my shield" attitude.
Soto, who is fighting out of Tijuana, Mexico has been jobbed in the past, most notably in a highly controversial disqualification loss to Francisco Lorenzo in which the fight was stopped at the hands of Joe Cortez due to Soto hitting Lorenzo behind the head in a World Boxing Council title fight in which the WBC chose not to award the belt to Lorenzo due to the controversial nature of how the fight ended.
With that said, Diaz and Soto both hold wins over former Lightweight titlist Jesus Chavez and these two fighters will be out to prove their grit. I think that while Diaz is able to work well on the inside, Soto, who seems perpetually upset about the way recent fights have gone will do all he can to punish Diaz from the outside, because he is the more "bitter," taller and rangier fighter of the two. Not to mention that Soto's only stoppage loss came earlier in his career in the 11th round against Hector Javier Marquez, whereas Diaz has been stopped twice, once against Manny Pacquiao, and before that against Kendall "Rated R" Holt.
I think this fight will go the distance in what will most definitely be a fun fight to watch with Soto getting the nod against Diaz over twelve rounds in what will be a thriller. I think that the outcome will be based on the fact that Soto knows how to use his height and reach, while Diaz tends to be a "come-forward" fighter who likes to bang away at the body.
In other undercard action, the legendary former Lightweight Champion Jose Luis Castillo will be fighting former "Contender Star" Alphonso Gomez who is coming off of an upset win (as well as four straight wins) against Jesus Soto-Karass. Gomez is known for his biggest win when he shocked the late Arturo Gatti inside seven rounds in 2007, while Jose Luis Castillo who is also coming into this fight on a four win streak was shocked himself by Antonio Margarito's former opponent and sparring partner in Sebastian Lujan when he dropped a 10 round decision in a fight where Lujan threw over 1,200 punches.
I think that Gomez, especially given that he is utilizing his boxing skills a lot more as of late will either capture a unanimous decision or a late stoppage over Jose Luis Castillo who at 37 years old, may have seen his best days. Castillo is well known for his controversial loss to Floyd Mayweather Junior in their first fight, his 10th round TKO loss to the late Diego Corrales in an all time-classic, followed up by a 4th round KO win over Diego in a fight where Castillo had issues making weight, followed by a 4th round KO loss to Ricky Hatton at Welterweight.
In the preliminary televised bout, the always entertaining "Irish" John Duddy will face Michael "Murder Man" Medina in a ten round scrap. Duddy is the type of fighter whose style will play well into that of Medina's which is all action. I think that Duddy has the slight advantage as far as winning goes, but at the end of the day, this is going to be a battle of will and most importantly, a battle of chins. I will say this- I doubt this fight goes the distance with Duddy capturing a stoppage within 7 rounds in an all-action brawl.
This fight will be televised on Pay Per View this Saturday, March 13th, 2010 starting at 9 PM Eastern time, 6 PM Pacific time, and of course, 8PM Central time.
One thing is for sure- fasten your seat-belts because we are all in for a thrilling, roller coaster of a treat this Saturday night. Contact your local cable provider for details, and if you want to save 20 bucks via rebate, grab your friends some Tecate Beer (or yourself if that strikes your fancy) and follow the directions given during the telecast regarding the rebate redemption.