I'm still hard at work on the special Black History Month series that I just started this Wednesday, so pardon as I make this boxing preview brief and to the point:
P4P king Manny Pacquiao meets the tough Joshua Clottey inside Jerry Jones' massive shrine to sports, Cowboys Stadium, in Dallas tonight (home of my favorite football team ;) ). Since the Mayweather fight predictably fell apart and due to both the Pacman's camp still wanting to fight in March and to Jones failed desire to host the pre-failed PBF showdown, the replacement match-up is taking place in Texas. Clottey's not exactly Mayweather and thus the mainstream media does not care about it and they have instantly label him as a pushover of sorts, given his lack of name recognition.
To the more seasoned eye, Clottey's certainly not that, and he is arguably the largest and strongest guy that Pacquiao has fought (he and Miguel Cotto had identical dimensions; Clottey has both beat by at least two inches all around). He's not easy to beat and has only lost to Antonio Margarito and Cotto (late DQ against Carlos Baldomir a decade ago). He's got good skill and tenacity and has a fair shot at besting the champion, but...he's more of a defensive fighter and can clam up when faced with a barrage. He may have beaten Zab Judah, but Manny Pacquiao isn't weak-minded and he's much more gifted, physical, and quick. The setup is clearly advantageous in his favor, but don't mistaken it for lack of class. Mayweather may have Shane Mosley coming up, but "Grand Master" himself is one of the top five welterweights in the world and the only logical opponent out there for Pacquiao to fight (Berto being unable to due to the devastation in his native Haiti following its earthquake).
Clottey's best chance would be to press the action and use the uppercut effectively. Yet even then, as Cotto learned, tenacity can land you on the canvas before you even know it. I've always liked him, but I don't see Pacquiao looking past Clottey and letting him off the hook so easily. Clottey will have his moments, but Pacquiao will most likely make his night a miserable one as he makes the right adjustments and settles in (probably past Rd. 4). However, I would actually be very shocked if he stopped the Ghanaian, whose tough body and chin never betrayed him in any of his losses--all by decision (DQ notwithstanding)...
Prediction: Pacquiao UD (if the Filipino is too lax/flat or cannot get comfortable with his offense, Clottey, TKO9).
Outcome: Pacquiao, UD. It seems that it went as predicted, though Pacquiao swept nearly all of the rounds, save for one or two. ESPN's live chat coverage made it sound a little more competitive than the various other outlets (still a domination, though). Perhaps it was because they were live on the scene, but as I have learned, seeing a fight with your own eyes can certainly lead to a difference in opinion. If ESPN was correct, then it's good to hear that Clottley got some kind of offense in and tried, even if he was overwhelmed by Pacquiao's 1200+ punch assault (and threw only 153 more than 246 he landed). Still, I'll reserve final judgement until the eventual replay on HBO.