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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pacquiao keeps Clottey on defensive, wins nearly every round

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Unable to land his signature punch, the straight left, Manny Pacquiao nevertheless overwhelmed Joshua Clottey in a subtle performance Saturday that did not dilute his legacy.

Pacquiao (51-3-2) won a unanimous decision, all 12 rounds on one scorecard and 11 on the other two, to retain the WBO welterweight title in Arlington, Texas, at the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium.

Jabbing and mounting a ferocious body attack, Pacquiao compensated brilliantly for his inability to land cleanly to the face. He established from the outset that he could preoccupy Clottey and discourage him from mounting an attack of his own. Pacquiao, landing only 246 punches but throwing 1,231, was three times as busy as Clottey.

Clottey did manage to hit Pacquiao with three or four uppercuts and five or six counter rights to the noggin’. But he did NOTHING else, except blocking hundreds of punches.

Nobody was going to give such an unaggressive challenger a decision in a fight like that. I gave him the fifth and sixth rounds, when Pacquiao moved less and invited Clottey to open up more, which he did a few times.

And that was that. By the seventh, it was obvious Clottey knew better than we did how badly he was outclassed. Maybe Pacquiao didn’t come close to a knockout, but Clottey obviously didn’t doubt it was possible.

“I think he’s feeling Pacquiao’s power,” Clottey’s trainer Lenny DeJesus said during a late-rounds interview with HBO.

Clottey (35-4), whose previous losses were narrow ones to Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito and a disqualification against Carlos Baldimir, gave Pacquiao his due. “He has (too much) speed,” Clottey said. “It was the first time I’ve lost a fight.”

In explaining his caution, Clottey praised Pacquiao. “He was waiting for me to open up so he could counter me.” Clearly Clottey felt that would be a lot worse than the 12 rounds of frustration and futility that ensued instead.

“It was not an easy fight,” Pacquiao conceded. But he didn’t let that frustrate him. “I wasn’t in a hurry because he was looking for a big shot, an opening.”

When he wasn’t bobbing and weaving and dodging and ducking, that is.

If there was any assumption that Clottey could have turned the tide by showing more courage, the 11th round ended that. Clottey mounted his only sustained attack of the fight, and Pacquiao answered every assault with more impressive flurries of his own.

Following his amazing victories against seemingly larger men in the past 16 months, over Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Cotto, the whuppin’ Pacquiao administered Saturday was as lopsided as his other three and in its own way just as impressive.


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