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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clottey might need shelter from tornado

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Pacquiao vs Clottey
Special to The Press-Enterprise

Boxing's closest thing to a human tornado drops down in Texas on Saturday as Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao defends his WBO welterweight title against Joshua Clottey.

All eyes will be on Dallas as the Pacquiao storm settles in against Clottey, who's known as a strong and sturdy fighter. The Top Rank fight card will be televised on pay-per-view.

We'll see just how sturdy Clottey is.

An expected crowd of over 40,000 fight fans will pack into Cowboys Stadium to see boxing's most exciting fighter. Though the stadium will probably sell out, what about the pay-per-view sales?

Not everyone is convinced that Ghana's Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs) can provide a challenge to the do-not-blink kind of speed that Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) possesses. Many predict a one-sided battering so pay-per-views may not be staggering, but nonetheless very good. This is, after all, a Pacman fight.

Clottey has lost only three of his 38 pro bouts. One came against former champion Carlos Baldomir, another came against former champion Miguel Cotto and another against former champion Antonio Margarito. There it is. He just can't seem to beat world champions.

"I think this is the third time going for the WBO title and my fourth world title overall. I have had a fight with Cotto and now Manny Pacquiao," said Clottey, who did beat former world champion Zab Judah in 2008 for the IBF title that he later vacated to fight Cotto. Now the muscular fighter who trains out of New York City meets the ultimate test.

"He (Pacquiao) throws a lot of punches to people when he sees the openings. He won't see the openings with me," Clottey said.

Pacquiao keeps rollicking along like he's merely trying to keep fit for the real showdowns against better fighters. The Filipino star wanted Sugar Shane Mosley, but his promoter, Bob Arum, did not. He wanted Floyd Mayweather Jr., but that fight was nixed when the Las Vegas fighter tried to impose his own requirements.

"You can't bully us," said Freddie Roach, who trains Pacquiao. "What's next, does Floyd want two-minute rounds?"

Those demands canceled the fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, so now the world must settle for Clottey. It doesn't bother Pacquiao at all.

"I know I can't underestimate Clottey because he is a former world champion also," Pacquiao said during a conference call.

What separates Pacquiao from most other fighters is a willingness to entertain fight fans regardless of the cost or danger. He's like a high-wire act except he has a wide safety net: his speed, power and ability to take a punch.

It's these incredible assets that probably made Mayweather pause and try to add an Olympic-style blood test in Nevada before their match that was supposed to take place on March 13. He could not believe the smaller Pacquiao could annihilate a great fighter like Cotto. When neither side would capitulate regarding the blood test, the fight was scrapped and Clottey was inserted.

"I was so surprised that I had this opportunity to fight against Manny Pacquiao. When Bob Arum and Top Rank called me about this opportunity to fight Manny Pacquiao, I was so happy. And I want to win this fight in a big way," Clottey said.

Pacquiao only wants to please his fan base, which now includes a lot of Mexicans because of his willingness to stand and punch: a trademark of Mexican fighters.

"I am expecting a lot of Mexican fans to be at the fight," said Pacquiao, who is accustomed to signing hundreds of autographs for Mexican fans as well as his usual Filipino multitudes.

Very few non-Mexican fighters are able to attract the boxing crazy Mexican fans that represent a large percentage of any boxing gate in the Western region. Aside from Pacquiao, fighters such as Mosley, Mike Tyson and James Toney are about the only non-Mexican fighters who can entice the Mexican fight fan.

Another expectation is for Texans to witness a tornado of punches when Pacquiao begins unloading his arsenal.

"It's not going to be easy for me and it's not going to be easy for Manny Pacquiao because I am going to fight the guy who the people think is the best," Clottey said.


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