Thursday, January 14, 2010

Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey: Analysis and Prediction

Now that the pesky Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight that nobody wanted to see is finally dead, it’s time to get down to some real business.

Although, which fighter do you think was actually at fault for that whole…

Just kidding. I think we’ve all had enough of that crap for a while.

Well, the players have changed but the game remains the same—and the name of the game is: Whose ass is Manny Pacquiao gonna kick next?

And our next contestant is…Joshua Clottey!

Actually, I’m having a little too much fun here and getting a bit carried away. Clottey is no supersonic-breasted villain in a Wapakman movie. He shows up ready—and quite able—to tangle.

The 33-year-old Clottey has a record of 35-3 with 20 KOs. He is a tough, physical pressure fighter who stalks his opponents behind a tight, high-handed defense.

He is a quick-fisted, accurate counterpuncher with an excellent left hook. And he has a good jab when he decides to use it.

His most recent fight was in June against Miguel Cotto. He lost a split-decision in a fight in which many thought he was punked by the judges.

He also lost by decision to Antonio Margarito in 2006. He had won the early rounds before breaking his hand in the fourth. Perhaps if that hand had been wrapped by the trainer of his opponent, the injury could have been avoided.

His only other loss was by 11th-round disqualification for repeated, intentional head-butts to Carlos Baldomir in a 1999 bout that Clottey was winning.

He’s managed to win a few fights, too. He beat Zab Judah via nine-round technical decision in 2008 and had a dominating win on points over a beefed-up version of the late Diego Corrales in 2007.

And for those who have just returned from a lengthy Antarctic expedition, a record-breaking stint on a Russian space station, or have recently awoken from a prolonged comatose state, there is a Filipino fighter named Manny Pacquiao who has been on a bit of a roll himself.

In a November fight with Miguel Cotto, after a competitive first five rounds during which Manny dropped Cotto twice, Pacquiao reached cruising speed and began to dominate, winning by 12th-round TKO.

This fight came, of course, after Pacquiao stuck Ricky Hatton like a Pamplona Bull putting its horn up the ass of a moron who had the bright idea of trying to run with it through the streets of Spain.

Pacquiao is a very fast-handed, hard-punching southpaw. He uses rapid in-and-out and side-to-side movement to set up stinging punches from angles that may have made Isaac Newton rethink his work.

The story of the Pacquiao vs. Clottey fight is going to be about whether Clottey’s pressure and counterpunching can overcome Pacquiao’s foot speed and quick-handed, sharp-punching attacks.

Clottey has been a difficult opponent for everyone he’s faced and Pacquiao probably won’t be the exception. Especially for the first eight rounds or so.

Trying to penetrate Clottey’s guard is like trying to get near one of Pacquiao’s veins with a needle—no easy task, even for someone with the speed and offensive capabilities of Pacquiao. At the same time, Pacquiao is not going to be there for Clottey to hit either.

Clottey is the type of fighter who needs to be set before he can throw. Pacquiao’s foot speed and movement are going to create all manner of vexation for Clottey, as he’ll have a hard time planting his feet to mount any type of sustained offense.

I see Pacquiao outworking Clottey and building a small lead early, although possibly without getting a whole lot of hard, clean punches through Clottey’s guard.

At some point, Clottey is going to have to open up a bit and try to slow Pacquiao down, probably by throwing his customary left hooks in the direction of Manny’s body. When he does, look for Manny’s right hook to counter effectively.

I think that by about the eighth round, Pacquiao will have assumed command and forced Clottey to either fight a losing battle of exchanges or spin himself into a defensive cocoon that he won’t be able to chew his way out of.

Clottey will have his moments along the way. But being light on power, he won’t be able to do enough damage or land a high enough volume of punches to slow Pacquiao to the point of submitting to his pressure game.

Clottey is more of a contender than a contestant playing the “Whose ass is Manny gonna kick next?” game, so I think he'll find a way to make it to the finish line. I’m going with Pacquiao by solid decision.


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