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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Manny Prepares To Attack The Body

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Pacquiao vs Clottey
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Posted By Avi "Shoefly" Korine 5:00 PM

I've often said that I prefer watching Manny Pacquiao shadowbox to tuning in to certain fights; I can say the same thing about watching him hit the mitts. Manny looks primed and ready for Saturday's fight against Joshua Clottey in this excellent footage above provided by Maxboxing. The entire thing is worth watching, particularly Pacquiao's Bruce Lee impression at 3:50.

Manny looks typically fit and his combination of hand and foot speed is a marvel to behold. Too often I am guilty of picturing Manny as a mindless slugger reliant on his incredible natural talents and aggression. If Pacquiao engages in new strategies it is thought that it was part of Freddie Roach's role as a tactical genius.

While Freddie is obviously essential, as a trainer is for every fighter, I think you can see in this footage some of Manny Pacquiao's growth as a thinking fighter. Watching him work through combinations and communicate to Freddie with their own special language it's hard to view him as some sort of natural savant; he is that, but he is more. Manny is a fully realized fighter, a thinking fighter, and that's why he has had so much success.

In particular I'd like to note Pacquiao's repeated efforts to slide to the side and finish with work to the body. As anyone who has watched Joshua Clottey fight will know, though Clottey is a good defensive figher he tends to wait until an opponent stops punching before he starts to punch. Against Migueal Cotto, Clottey had his greatest successes when his opponent stood with feet planted and traded. As long as Clottey remained set he was effective and remained in punching range.

Whenever Cotto moved Clottey would have to reset and begin things again. The same was true of the Zab Judah fight. In the early rounds Judah had some success by jabbing and getting inside, but as the rounds progressed he remained stationary and took punishment because of this.

Clottey's philosophy can be clearly understood in his interviews. This week Clottey has said repeatedly that he, "fights like a man." By this he means he walks forward applying pressure and is content to stay within the striking zone at all times.

That is Clottey's style, but it is partially out of necessity. While Clottey has good hand speed his footwork in not comparable to the darting rhythm of Pacquiao (no shame on Clottey, perhaps only Mayweather can match Pacquiao here.)

Watching Pacquiao work repeatedly on turning his opponent and finishing up to the body shows that both Manny and his trainer know that this is where their advantage rests. Roach has made no secret of his belief that Manny can penetrate Clottey's high guard by attacking the body. This can be done both by hooking while facing the opponent, or - more effectively and with less risk - by changing the angle of engagement.

To watch a true master working on something repeatedly is a great pleasure, to see the craft involved in greatness. I immediately think of Ricky Hatton dismissing Pacquiao's insistence on the "right hook, roll under."

Hatton felt he could stop the combination, but was functionally finished by it in the very first round. Joshua Clottey will need to be better prepared, because it's clear that Pacquiao is again primed to put his plan into action.


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