When it was announced that Manny Pacquiao would meet the winner of the Cotto-Clottey bout last summer, it was said in this space that a Cotto win represented the easier draw for Pacquiao. Well, Cotto squeaked by Clottey and then was defeated by Pacquiao in a convincing manner. Now with the falling out between team Pacquiao and team Mayweather the most anticipated fight since De La Hoya-Mayweather won't be realized on March 13th this year. In it's place Pacquiao 50-3-2 (38) will meet former IBF welterweight title holder Joshua Clottey 35-3 (20) at the recently opened Cowboys stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Once again Pacquiao seeks to fight one of the best and toughest fighters out there - what more can be asked of Pacquiao? Sure it'll be said by some that Clottey is a slow one dimensional fighter who fights just good enough to lose when he's matched against elite opposition. But one of his defeats was a DQ versus Carlos Baldimor in a fight he was winning and the other two were by decision to former welterweight title holders Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto in his last fight.
The last time we saw Clottey he was on the verge of seizing control of his bout versus Miguel Cotto and then stopped letting his hands go during the 11th and 12th rounds, which turned out to be just enough to let Cotto escape with a split decision victory over him. However, what's forgotten about the Cotto-Clottey fight is it was Clottey who dealt out most of the punishment during the fight. And with the exception of being caught by a short jab with his feet too close together and suffering a flash-knockdown in the first round, Clottey was never hurt or in trouble during the entire bout. It also cannot go unmentioned that Clottey has a cast-iron chin, is physically strong and his high guard defense is very technically sound.
Clottey's problem has been when he's fought the likes of Margarito and Cotto, he stopped getting off and letting his hands go for no outward reason. It wasn't like he feared getting hit or mixing with Margarito or Cotto. And what hurt him just as much was the fact that neither opponent really went after him and looked for the stoppage. Both Margarito and Cotto were content with just boxing their way to the finish line avoiding a massive fire fight in case Clottey woke up and decided to fight with a sense of urgency and like he actually cared about the outcome of the bout.
When taking a quick glance at how Pacquiao-Clottey will unfold, it's easy to make the case for Pacquiao. He's faster with his hands and feet, he has a much more sophisticated and varied offensive attack. Pacman throws more punches and is clearly the more accurate and sharper puncher. He's also more aggressive and looks to win inside the distance instead of leaving the fight left up to the judges scorecards.
And it's Pacquiao's aggression that perhaps opens a window for Clottey and provides him his best chance for an upset victory.
As mentioned earlier, Clottey fights in a very deliberate and complicit manner. The past two upper-tier opponents he's faced didn't bother him nor forced him to have to fight them off. They were content to out-work and out-box him for the better part of 12-rounds. Whereas Pacquiao is of a different mindset. He wants to end the fight with every punch and if Clottey isn't fighting too hard and just going through the motions, Pacquiao will go at him and look to get him out. And in doing that Clottey will finally be forced to have to fight Pacquiao off of him to stay in the fight.
Clottey is very strong physically and is a pretty good puncher especially if his opponent is not afraid to bring the fight to him. And when Clottey lets his hands go he can be a dangerous opponent even for a terror like Pacquiao. On top of that, Clottey has heard so much over the last three years how he's lost big fights because of his lack of intensity and not fighting to his optimum potential. But one has to assess that fighting Pacquiao will bring out the best in him being all that can be gained by beating him. Pacquiao represents the fight of a lifetime for Joshua Clottey and it must be assumed that whatever his "A" game is - he'll bring it on fight night.
Clottey is the bigger and stronger fighter. No, he's not the class of fighter that Pacquiao is, but his strength and toughness are a pretty good equalizer and if he's motivated and fights with the urgency he's lacked in a big spot in his previous signature fights - he's a dangerous opponent and capable of scoring the upset over Pacquiao.
At this time Pacquiao gets all due credit for immediately trying to fight one of the top welterweights in the world, excluding Shane Mosley and Andre Berto who meet later this month. Hats off again to Manny Pacquiao for trying to give boxing the best fights he can.
Joshua Clottely is a very dangerous opponent and is capable of giving Pacquiao more trouble than Miguel Cotto did - and it shouldn't come as a shock if he beat him.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com