Thursday, January 14, 2010


As stated in my previous article regarding "Tropical Storm Catchweight," if Manny Pacquiao and his team should force Joshua Clottey into the ring at even one pound below the welterweight limit, they will test the forces of nature, resulting in the forming of "Hurricane Catchweight," which will keep this writer and thousands of others at home on March 13th. Many boxing fans are echoing these sentiments and to be clear, they are demanding that their voices be heard loudly and clearly on this situation. We'll get to that, but first, let's allow my own voice to be heard a little more.

I've wanted to watch Manny Pacquiao fight at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium since Pacman's promoter, Top Rank Bobfather Bob Arum, first mentioned it as a possibility, although I was skeptical. The most popular fighter of our time, a global phenomenon, an extraordinary venue for a has all the makings of a potentially historic event. As skeptical as the boxing world may have been, it looks as though we are only one official announcement away from the beginning of the countdown. However, it's not without it's complications and detractors. When the first rumblings were heard about a possible catchweight, there was a very brief wave of outrage. Many members of the "crucify first, ask questions later" crowd had their feelings calmed though, after statements made by Bob Arum and Freddie Roach forced Tropical Storm Catchweight to quickly dissipate and chart a course far away from land. Following Michael Koncz' correction of a previous blunder, 147 was the number being spoken by all of the power players within the Pacquiao Camp.

How quickly things can change in the boxing world. It appears the winds of the tropical storm are beginning to pick up speed at this hour and is indeed turning into Hurricane Catchweight. The boxing world is on watch for it's approach and the city of Dallas, and Joshua Clottey specifically, may be in it's immediate path of destruction, no matter how many boxing fans stay home.

While admittedly the complications appear to be somewhat minor, the public can show that this kind of a mole hill is actually a mountain and after all that has been endured by the sport's faithful in the preceding weeks with regards to the breakdown in Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations, the masses can turn it's sainted into it's shamed in an instant. Although Pacmania may indeed currently be the strongest force in boxing, the force of the disenfranchised boxing fan isn't something to balk at either.

Although my last piece made it clear that Pacquiao vs. Clottey would be occurring at 147 pounds, many fans still felt the need to communicate that, "This fight must happen at 147." It seemed as though the comments made by the Bobfather and Master Freddie Roach weren't enough to give the whole boxing world "the warm fuzzies." Some, mostly part of the "Never believe Arum" crowd, thought there was still something to worry about. Maybe they were right.

Late Tuesday night it came to light by way of ABS-CBN News that at least one Pacquiao lawyer, Jeng Gacal, says they are going to, "Push for the 145 lbs. catchweight."

Evidently Gacal is ignorant of something that Freddie Roach and Bob Arum are not, and that is the fact that Manny Pacquiao is now under the microscope of the public. Manny has achieved a level of stardom uncommon to boxers and with that comes extra criticism, higher standards, and less understanding. In the recently concluded "Blood-Gate" controversy, Pacquiao barely escaped with his reputation and popularity intact. He considered the threat serious enough that he responded with a lawsuit to halt such attacks on his character. He did however, at least so far, emerge unscathed. Although he is not long removed from Blood-Gate, does the Pinoy powerhouse wish to brave another firestorm of controversy?

More troubling than the criticism Pacquiao has received regarding Blood-Gate though is the recent criticism he has been facing for his choice of opponents. Although Pacquiao had to move up two weight classes, an older Oscar de la Hoya had to move down. Then when Manny beat Ricky Hatton, we were told that Hatton wasn't really that good. When he beat Cotto, Manny's critics said it was the catchweight. Most of these same critics however sang a different tune prior to the fights however. Oscar de la Hoya was supposed to show us why weight classes were invented in the first place. Ricky Hatton was supposed to be the "Real King of 140 lbs." Miguel Cotto was a world champion and Manny's first "real welterweight" adversary and only had to drop two pounds more than usual. It was said that Pacquiao would not be able to hurt him or take the punishment that he would be able to dish out. In each case, Manny Pacquiao faced a tough challenge going in, but was criticized for defeating paper targets in the aftermath of the destruction he caused. These cases all differ from what Manny will face if his fight with Joshua Clottey is signed below 147 pounds.

Should he face Clottey at a catchweight, all but Pacquiao's biggest fans will call into question the merits of the bout itself, never mind the victory. Welterweight titles are contested at 147lbs. and no contender should have to go beyond the requirements of the existing rules to compete. The same holds true whether it be in regards to substance testing or in regards to weight stipulations. Neither should be considered strictly, "contractual matters." Unlike Pacquiao's recent victories, the majority of displeased fans will not wait until a demoralized Clottey is giving his post-fight interview to voice outrage. Disgust will be voiced prior to the opening bell. Manny Pacquiao holds a 140-pound championship and a 147-pound championship. It's not asking too much that he defend one of them against a challenger accustomed to the weight that he will compete for a title at. The public demands it.

I, for one, am serious about boycotting this event if Top Rank does truly intend to allow Manny Pacquiao to defend his welterweight title below the limit. The Bobfather Bob Arum, promoter of Manny Pacquiao, and International Player Freddie Roach, world renowned trainer of Manny Pacquiao, are both on record as saying the upcoming March 13th WBO World Welterweight Championship fight between Pacquiao and challenger Joshua Clottey of Ghana will occur at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds. Team Pacquiao advisor Michael Koncz is also on record in agreement with Roach and Arum. If the power players say it's at 147, what's the big deal anyway?

The big deal is Clottey himself, the Ghananian is quite the large welterweight. Although Joshua makes weight, he blows up very large and quickly by fight night. Perhaps Gacal's efforts are to ensure that Clottey doesn't blow up too much between the weigh-in and the fight. There are of course persistent rumors that Clottey cuts down from Klitschko size to face welterweights and then rehydrates to 170 pounds prior to the 1st bell. Clottey is also often raked over the coals by boxing purists for the way he uses his head as such an effective weapon. It's been said on at least one occasion that his cranium should be custom fitted for a 16 ounce glove. There is at least some reason for some concern about the size of Clottey, however the reputation and legacy of Pacquiao is deserving of even more concern. Now is not the time for Manny to pick up anything mildly close to a hollow victory. A fight with Joshua Clottey should be a fight against the best possible Clottey, the same one that his other opponents have faced. He needs to be as good or better than he has ever been. It's bad for Manny if his prey is not healthy. Warriors don't hunt the wounded and Pacquiao is a warrior.

If the size of Clottey is something that must be addressed, Team Pacquiao should push for same day weigh-ins. That is something that would help the sport all around, in both the here and now, and in the future. It would force fighters to compete in weight classes that they belong in and if it becomes the norm, it could end up being a part of Manny Pacquiao's legacy. It's a better legacy than one of catchweights and weight-drained opponents.


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