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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pacquiao’s real challenge is not to beat Clottey, but to stop him

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By Scott Heritage

Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey received a rapturous reception in Dallas today when they met with the press, and there seemed to be little animosity between the two as they prepare to face off in the ring in a little under two months time.

Although Clottey will be seen by some as something of a consolation prize for Pacquiao, eager to see if he could be the man to finally end Floyd Mayweather’s thus far perfect record, the fight will none the less generate a lot of interest. Enhanced to a degree by the use of the billion dollar Dallas Coyboys stadium. For a lot of people, the issue isn’t really even if Manny can win, because he certainly should, but whether he can do what no one else has and stop Clottey inside the distance.

No matter how you might hear the fight played up for the purposes of selling a ticket or pay per view or two, make no mistake, Clottey is an easy fight for Manny. Clottey was just beaten by Miguel Cotto, who then went on to lose to Pacquiao, and it wasn’t even particularly close.

Cotto struggled with Clottey, but at the same time he had a massive gash impairing his vision for most of the fight as well. Pacquiao with his speed and power has most of the advantages over Clottey, who can perhaps claim only a better chin and more physical strength as his assets in the fight.

The biggest problem with Clottey though is that he has a tendency to drift in some rounds and become inactive. Against opponents he could bully around or catch with shots regularly this isn’t so much of a problem, but against Pacquiao he will struggle to land a glove all night unless the Filipino feels like going toe to toe (which he often does).

The real challenge for Manny then is to stop Clottey rather than simply beat him, and he has managed to steamroll all his recent opponents despite what they might have said about his punching power after the fact.

The question won’t be whether Manny can land, but whether he has the power to put Clottey away. Although he has a difficult to navigate defense, Clottey tires late against similar sized welterweights, and Pacquiao is known for his conditioning and relentless pace. If he can push Clottey for the first half of the fight, then the later rounds are as good as in the bag, and he can get to work on getting the stoppage.

The Cowboys stadium is setting up for 40,000-50,000 people, and other than the Ghanaian contingent, the rest of the crowd to a man will be waiting for a Pacquiao knockout. Whether they will get what they want from the always rugged Clottey is another matter, but a stoppage is what Manny has said he will be looking for.


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