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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pacquiao vs. Clottey, a horror movie?

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Pacquiao vs Clottey
By Benjamin Pimentel
First Posted 09:11:00 03/11/2010

CALIFORNIA, United States—By most accounts, Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey are skilled, fierce fighters, but who nevertheless are known to be nice guys outside the ring.

So what’s up with the fight poster that makes them look like scary characters in a horror movie?

“Under normal circumstances, they are both really quick with smiles,” Filipino-American writer Peter Bacho, author of the critically-acclaimed “Boxing in Black and White,” said.

But one wouldn’t know it from the poster of dark colors and shades.

On one side is Pacquiao looking like a crazed murderer, or one of the creepy creatures in Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video. Right next to him, Clottey looks like a zombie from “Night of the Living Dead.”

“Very dark,” Bacho said. “I've seen them do this before when Manny fought. And old graphic trick meant to connote bad intent and power, the clash of titans. Yeah, Manny looks like the devil. Good marketing for the Neanderthals that fight fans sometimes are.”

“Myself and my sophisticated pals excepted, of course,” Peter quips.

Some of my Facebook buddies also found the poster odd.

“Weird,” said one.

“I think they were going for a video game aesthetic. But it fails. Miserably.”

“A la GameSpy? Gladiators? A bit disturbing.”

Yet another friend said the organizers were aiming for the “The Terminator” feel.

Of course, boxing is a blood sport, and can get messy in a scary way. Fighters get hurt, sometimes seriously. A few have even died.

Clottey himself seemed to be aware of this when he told reporters, according to a story in the Dallas Morning News, “When you come out safe is the best thing in boxing.”

In the same story, Clottey, when asked by Filipino reporter if he has a strong chin, responded, “We Africans always have a good chin. We take a lot of punches, but we don't feel pain.”

Clottey is widely considered the underdog in the fight. And he has hit some rough patches, including the inability to get a visa for his trainer.

“Clottey is one of those boxers from Ghana who is made of stone,” New Jersey boxing fan Jesse Reyes told me, citing insights from another fight buff who has seen Clottey fight. “Very strong. But older than Pacman and maybe without the killer spirit.”

He said he sees Clottey as a “glorified tune-up” in preparation for the still-much-hoped-for showdown between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the Pacman. That encounter, as you may recall, fell apart after the undefeated Mayweather made demands related to drug testing that many believe were just excuses not to face Pacquiao, and suffer his first defeat.

But surprises are always a possibility in boxing. Manny has wisely avoided trying to look too confident. Yes, his trainer Freddie Roach has predicted a knockout. But one never knows.

Once again, Pacquiao is facing a bigger opponent. Clottey may be less experienced, but he is also known as a good counterpuncher.

As Tim Starks writes in The Queensberry Rules blog, “Clottey throws technically sound, straight punches…He can lead, and he's good at stalking, but he prefers to counter after blocking punches. Pacquiao has a history of struggling with the best counterpuncher he ever fought, Juan Manuel Marquez.”

But the problem with Clottey, he adds, “is how few punches Clottey throws, and how careful he is about when he throws them. Because of his preoccupation with his turtle shell defense and apparent inability to counterpunch while on D [defense], he has a tendency to lose rounds by being outworked.”

Still, he also calls Clottey “one of the best pure defensive fighters in the game” a fighter who could potentially neutralize Pacquiao’s vaunted hit-from-all-angles-in-rapid-fire style.

“Connecting cleanly on him is no easy task,” he says. “His gloves protect his head, and his elbows protect his body. You can hit him to the body some; you can punch through the center of his gloves some with straight punches; and you can punch around his guard some with hooks. His style's downside on offense—a reluctance to punch when his man is on the attack—is a huge plus on defense, because he's not going to get caught with anything stupid while getting overly aggressive on O [offense]. Mostly, you're going to be connecting on forearm, glove, and elbow.”

Bottom line, the Pacman may have a big edge, but the dude from Ghana may yet pull a surprise.

So yes the fight could turn into a horror story. For Manny Pacquiao. And for Filipinos worldwide.

But the odds are still for our guy. So let’s not dwell on that thought. Or on that awful, scary poster.


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