History is going to be made in boxing this weekend as a world title fight will be staged in the grand new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, perhaps now the premier sporting stage on earth. Only an extraordinary superstar boxing champion could adequately fill such a bill and owner Jerry Jones knew just the man for the task. “Manny Pacquiao is boxing’s number one pound-for-pound attraction and the world champion,” says Jones. “I have wanted to bring a major event to north Texas for many years, so why not bring the biggest and the best? Manny defending his title against Joshua Clottey is not just a great fight, it is The Event. And it is one we can showcase to the fullest in Cowboys Stadium. We’re going to promote this like it was the Super Bowl.”
At age 31, coming off awe-inspiring stoppage wins over Hatton, Cotto and De La Hoya, Pacquiao is presumably at the pinnacle of his prime. The Filipino Destroyer’s electrifying style of speed, power and creativity have so frightened Floyd Mayweather that the normally boisterous American is insisting a refusal to compete against Pacquiao now or in the immediate future.
So what does Pacquiao do? He takes on the no less formidable welterweight Joshua Clottey. Clottey is actually more established than Mayweather at 147 pounds based on his fine showings against Zab Judah, Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto. Clottey was very competitive in losing close decisions to Margarito and Cotto, two dangerous former welterweight champions that Mayweather refused (or avoided) to step in a ring with.
Clottey is a superbly skilled gladiator with phenomenal stamina, offensive and defensive techniques, fighting spirit and determination, and ring intelligence. “The Grand Master” from Accra, Ghana can hold his own with the best of the best but so far in his career he has come up short from winning the big ones. Shane Mosley terms it simply as “Clottey is not a finisher.” At age 32, Clottey has plenty of experience and must know he will need to raise his intensity to a new level on Saturday night to defeat Pacquiao. The same Joshua Clottey that we saw against Cotto at Madison Square Garden and against Judah in Las Vegas will not get the job done here.
Throughout history there have been many excellent fighters like Clottey who just could not quite get to the top of the mountain. Some that come to mind are Andrew Golota, Harold Johnson, Jerry Quarry, John Mugabi, Ike Ibeabuchi, among others. But then there are others like veterans Jersey Joe Walcott and Marvin Hagler who overcome earlier blown opportunities to finally achieve the career-defining victory in style.
Clottey is the kind of quality, experienced fighter who is that close to stepping over the precipice to greatness. It would not be a shocker if Clottey were to put it all together and outbox and dominate the naturally smaller man in Pacquiao while blocking and absorbing Pac’s blindingly lethal combinations. It all depends on who wants this victory more, who hungers and needs it more. At this point in time, you have to favor Pacquiao based on his past performances and another immeasurable factor – the magical inspiration and motivation he receives from the millions of Filipinos around the world.
The general consensus pick of course is Pacquiao to win here by decision or late stoppage. But Clottey is formidable enough to make it not only a competitive and exciting battle but also potentially one that could bring sadness to an entire Asian island Republic of the Pacific Ocean.
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