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Not a Sure Thing: Joshua Clottey’s Manny Pacquiao Challenge

By Gina L. Caliboso

Just to be clear, I am not going to begin my article with a lot of reasons on why the Manny Pacquiao – Floyd Mayweather, JR., mega fight never happened.

The ugliness of steroids overall is a horrible yet unfortunate reality about today’s modern athlete. Fingerpointing and lecturing aside, I’ll refrain from further comment that the fight negotiations were just – how can I put this?


I’m just saying that there’s a whole year left. I don’t count out the possibility just yet.

For now, Pacquiao definitely looks like he’s gearing up for the fight against Joshua “Grand Master” Clottey, 35-3, 20 KO’s, set for March 13th at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. But given some thought about Clottey as an opponent, I’ll argue that he may give Pacquiao some competition.

Some competition meaning that the fight is going to end with a unanimous decision in favor of Pacquiao over 12 rounds. However, Clottey is not and should not be taken lightly because there is never a sure thing for a fighter – even for Pacquiao – once he steps into the ring.

I had to look back at some of Clottey’s previous bouts. And, l always feel that looking at a fighter’s losses are more telling and if whether his post loss matches were better or worse. Clottey’s fight record is a veritable list of who’s who in the current welterweight division. And, unlike Pacquiao, he’s always fought at welterweight so he’s established himself at that weight against some heavy hitters and can definitely take some punishment at the hands of his opponents.

From footage I’ve seen, Clottey fights great inside. He has a good jab-hook combination that if properly executed, rocks his opponents. He goes to the body with left uppercuts, followed by barrages of hooks.

Clottey is definitely at his best when he’s in the middle of the ring. He has a tendency to get cornered and as such, doesn’t work too hard to dominate, especially if he’s against the ropes and in the corner. Once he establishes close in-fighting exchanges, he does not back down at all.

Clottey easily loses points when he fails to be aggressive and works tentatively showing moments of strong fighting and winning by points, but then somehow takes times off in a round or two without establishing his will on his opponent. Clottey’s lackluster ring generalship allows his opponents to win rounds he could have easily won if he weren’t so reluctant to exchange.

Now, I just stated that his ring generalship is a little lackluster, but it’s not lacking too much. This is where I just love to theorize about boxing tactics because I definitely think Clottey has an awareness of the referee. Call it “dirty tactics,” but I think Clottey is very aware of the referee in the ring and what he can possibly do to his opponent depending on what the referee may or might not be seeing. Yes, fight fans, others have said it. Clottey is notorious for the timeliness of his clashing of heads. And, it’s usually his opponents that get the worst of these accidental head butts.

Back in 1999 in his fight against Argentina’s Carlos Baldomir, Clottey scored a DQ. He lost two points for his headbutting of Baldomir in the 10th round and repeated a headbutt again in the 11th resulting in the disqualification. Again, timeliness of the head clash, but in this case, he lost big because he was ahead on the judges’ scorecards at the time the fight was stopped.

Back in June 2009, Clottey faced Miguel Angel Cotto. Clottey had suffered a knockdown in the first round. But later, towards the end of round three, Cotto had suffered a cut above his left eye again by an accidental headbutt. Cotto went on to win the fight by split decision over 12 rounds, but the cut didn’t exactly take one or two stitches. According to reports, the cut took 20 total stitches (14 over and 6 below the eye – ouch!)

In this fight, Clottey definitely gave Cotto a hard time despite the knockdown in the first round, but still didn’t really looked like he could beat Cotto.

Clottey is definitely a different type of opponent for Pacquiao. He has solid talent, has shown definite ability to work and exchange on the inside. But as a slow starter, he cannot afford to be tentative. It’s a big moment and venue for the fighter from Ghana. If Clottey can step up his game and the occasion, he has nothing to lose by any means. Given his history of accidental headbutts, Pacquiao’s southpaw stance makes him even more vulnerable to the possibility of a clash of heads.

Pacquiao must show even more technical ability, combined with his speed and power, to take the fight quickly. However, it’s up to Clottey to make this his fight and not make the fight about his opponent Pacquiao. So, was Clottey the safer choice for Pacquiao? Probably, but maybe, just maybe, Clottey will make this fight about giving some competition to Pacquiao.

Will he win?

I say no, but I don’t see him exactly standing there getting beat up either.

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