Clottey no Buster Douglas

Steve Janoski: When I first heard that Manny Pacquiao’s next fight would be against Joshua Clottey, I have to admit that I was surprised. After the entire debacle with Floyd Mayweather, I was surprised the man even wanted to fight again— most would be so jaded by the entire affair, which was handled poorly on all sides (but the worst on Mayweather’s), that they’d want to be done with the grimy shadyness that is the boxing “business.”

But Pac came back, and is fighting a real welterweight even though he’s not actually one himself, something that its taken Mayweather oh, about two decades to do..

Regardless of that, Clottey is a tough opponent. He has an iron chin, and has taken the shots of some of the welterweight class’ heaviest hitters and waved them on. He went toe-to-toe with Cotto and was a good left hook away from beating him, and he stood in with Judah’s flashy hands and left him bloody by the end.

Clottey is a skilled infighter, digging his hooks and uppercuts and making fighters pay for overextending themselves. He has punishing power, and, although it isn’t that one-punch, hit-you-so-hard-your-teeth-hurt-power, it will wear a fighter down as it did Cotto and Judah.

He also skillfully executes his defense, picking off shots by holding his gloves high and leaving no opening between them (as Cotto tends to do). He also has good footwork against southpaws, and continually held the better position against Judah that allowed him to throw a stiff straight right without taking much damage himself.

The man is, without a doubt, a gutsy, tough fighter. But no one questions his heart; what they question is whether that heart and his two fists can really beat someone like Manny Pacquiao.

The difference in the two fighters’ styles is remarkable; while Clottey stalks and walks down his prey as a polar bear might, Pacquiao fights in the manner that writer A.P. Terhune said a collie attacks when enraged— he is everywhere and he is nowhere, he is vicious and brutal, bouncing in and out of range while sidestepping and striking with a power that he simply shouldn’t have carried up the weight classes.

He had Cotto turning ‘round as if he were fighting more than one man, and had the power to knock him down twice. His hands were blindingly fast, and he struck from every angle that a man’s fists can fly from. The little dynamo proved that his Hatton knockout was not a fluke, and that he can take the punches of a full welterweight.

Clottey is a bit faster than Cotto, but doesn’t throw better combinations and doesn’t seem to have the power that Cotto has. He leans forward when he stalks, and is prone to long stretches of punchless inactivity. He also has a habit of letting fighters steal rounds from him, and not jumping on them when he should. It is almost as if he lacks that killer instinct that a fighter must have, that fierce, murderous rage that rears its head only when they see an opponent’s bleeding face or swaying legs.

Pacquiao, as we all know, has this in spades. Although I see Clottey taking the fight to Pacquiao and trying to fight him in the phone booth, Pac’s footwork will nullify this. If Pacquaio dictates the range the fight is fought at, he could have Clottey put away in the early rounds via another spectacular stoppage.

There is a chance for Clottey though. Pacquiao does cut, and Clottey, if left to do his work on the inside, has a tendency to open up gashes above his opponent’s left eye. Clottey might realize that this is going to be both the defining moment and the greatest fight of his entire life, and that if he does not seize the world tonight by the lapels with his bloody fists and roar, “I have arrived!”…he never will.

Maybe he’ll let his hands go, and we’ll see an upset that we haven’t seen since Buster Douglas knocked Tyson’s mouthpiece across the ring.

But me? I wouldn’t bet on it.

Article posted on 13.03.2010

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