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Monday, March 15, 2010

Pacquiao wins unanimous decision

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Fighting on the star, Manny Pacquiao showed once again why he is such a star.

With the biggest fight crowd in the U.S. in 17 years cheering him on at Cowboys Stadium, Pacquiao dominated a strangely passive Joshua Clottey from the opening bell Saturday night to retain his welterweight title and cement his status as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

The fight wasn't close, and it was never in doubt. It was so one-sided that even those in the cheap seats among the crowd of 50,994 could tell without looking at the giant video screens over the ring that Pacquiao was in total command.

One ringside judge gave Pacquiao every round, while the two others gave him all but one. The Associated Press scored it a shutout for the Filipino sensation.

It wasn't as flashy as his knockout of Ricky Hatton or as savage as the beating he gave Oscar De La Hoya, but there was no doubt Pacquiao was in command the entire way against a fighter who kept his gloves up high in front of his face and chose to engage him only in spurts. Clottey's strategy worked to keep him upright, but he was never competitive in the biggest fight of his career.

"He's a very tough opponent," Pacquiao said. "He was looking for a big shot."

Pacquiao was supposed to have been fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. instead of Clottey, but the megafight fell apart over a dispute over blood testing. He took out any frustrations over losing the biggest fight of his career by beating up Clottey on the biggest stage of his career.

"I want that fight, the world wants that fight, but it's up to him," Pacquiao said. "I'm ready to fight any time."

That time won't come soon. Mayweather is fighting Shane Mosley on May 1, and the earliest the two could get together would be in the fall and only if Mayweather backs off his demands for blood testing.

The fight this night was more of an event than a real competition, bringing in the biggest crowd in the U.S. for a fight since Julio Cesar Chavez fought Pernell Whitaker at the Alamodome in 1993. It paid off handsomely for Pacquiao, though, who earned at least $12 million and built on the reputation he has gained as one of the greatest fighters of his time.

Promoters not only sold out the 45,000 seats available for the bout, but added thousands more standing room only "party passes" for fans who could get a glimpse of the action and see every drop of sweat on the huge overhead screens.

"It's one of the most incredible stories not just in boxing but anywhere," promoter Bob Arum said. "Fourteen years ago he was sleeping in a cardboard shack in the Philippines and tonight he puts 51,000 people in this palace in Dallas."

The tone of the fight was set early, with Pacquiao advancing against his taller opponent and throwing punches with both hands from all angles. It was the same style that gave him spectacular wins in his last three fights and, though Clottey was clearly the bigger fighter, he fought back only sparingly.

"Everything's working now," trainer Freddie Roach told Pacquiao after the third round. "It's easy."

It was easy, too, much to the delight of the crowd and much to the delight of an entire country back in Pacquiao's homeland. There, traffic came to a halt and huge numbers of Filipinos, including army troops and allied American soldiers, jammed theatres in shopping malls and military camps nationwide to root for Pacquiao. In what has now become a familiar scene, Filipinos repeatedly yelled his name and threw punches in the air after the country's boxing hero was declared the winner.

Unlike most of Pacquiao's fights, this one lacked suspense from the opening seconds of the fight, when Clottey assumed the peek-a-boo position he would remain in except for brief spurts the entire bout.

"He has speed, I lost the fight," Clottey said. "He's fast, that's why I was taking my time."

Arum said he wasn't disappointed in the effort put out by Clottey, who was guaranteed to make at least $1.25 million.

"What was he supposed to do? If he played offense he'd get knocked out," Arum said. "I can't blame the kid for trying to wear him down."

Clottey seemed content to hold his hands high in a peek-a-boo style through much of the early rounds, trying to pick off Pacquiao's punches and perhaps rally late. But he gave away round after round, despite landing some clean punches on the rare occasions when he would throw a combination.

"You gotta take a chance," Clottey's trainer, Lenny DeJesus, implored him after the sixth round. "You're in a fight and you gotta start taking chances."

Clottey didn't, though, and his prize was that he was the first fighter in Pacquiao's last six fights to make it to the final bell. The only suspense when it came time to announce the decision was whether the three ringside judges would give Clottey any of the rounds.

Pacquiao threw three times as many punches as Clottey, an average of 100 a round, and landed as many power shots as Clottey threw. Final punch stats showed Pacquiao landing 246 of 1,231 punches to 108 of 399 for Clottey.

Clottey had gotten the fight off a good performance in his last bout against Miguel Cotto, but he was clearly more concerned with surviving the all-out assault that Pacquiao is noted for than winning the fight.

"Joshua Clottey had the power to knock him out but was reluctant to punch," DeJesus said. "We clearly got beat. I don't think he won a round."

Roach agreed, saying he saw nothing in Clottey to win.

"He had a good defense, but defense isn't enough to win a fight," Roach said.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Pacquiao vs Clottey Weight In Video

Manny Pacquiao ready to knock out Joshua Clottey in 'The Super Brawl' in Dallas

Yet the Filipino pugilist, the only fighter in the sport’s 150 year history to secure seven titles across eight divisions, has been called upon to make a bold statement at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium on Saturday against teak-tough Ghanaian Joshua Clottey.

“We’ve worked on a game plan to stop or knock him out,” said Pacquiao’s Hollywood-based award-winning trainer Freddie Roach. “We see Clottey fighting us in one of two ways. We have game plans for both, and I expect Manny to break him up and hurt him in the middle rounds.”

Roach has a theory that Clottey fails to protect his body with his elbows when he tucks his hands in front of his face. “We’ll go for the body then…but we know he is a tough guy. If Manny has him hurt at any point, I’ll let him off the leash and we’ll go for the finish.”

Roach, who works a tight game plan has his fighter — regarded as the world’s No 1 pound for pound pugilist with 50 wins, three losses, and two draws — instructed to stay off the ropes, make clean shots tell, and avoid fighting on the inside.

“The plan is to control Clottey all night long, don’t let him set up, hit and get out of the way, and make that move to the side.”

What Roach has drummed into Pacquiao, is not to do what did against Miguel Cotto in November year when he allowed the Puerto Rican to attack as he leaned back on the ropes. “That would be a mistake. We can’t give Clottey those type of opportunities. Too dangerous.”

For Clottey — 35 wins, three losses — this is the night when he can project himself by causing a major upset. He has stopped twenty of his ring rivals inside the distance. He is likely to step into the ring weighing 155lbs. He is a genuine, natural welterweight, and is likely to have a 10lb advantage over Pacquiao. He has power, calmness and belief. He has dragged himself up through a shanty town in West Africa to get to this position. The centre will be firm. And he will hold his position.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Clottey actually wobbles Pacquiao early in the contest, even knocking the Filipino down. But Pacquiao’s relentless attacks are likely to eventually wear the bigger man down.

Clottey, the fighter who follows a line of great Ghanaian boxers from the small fishing port on the outskirts of Accra, will not give up the fight however, and I expect him to be stopped - against his will, but with the cold judgement of his corner- around the 10th or 11th round, having taken too much punishment. Should he win, he will become as famous an African boxer as the greater Azumah Nelson, his compatriot who was World Boxing Council feather, and super-featherweight world champion.

The contest will be witnessed by a sell-out crowd, and expected to reach around 700-800,000 homes on HBO’s pay per view telecast. British viewers can see the event on Sky Sports, from 2am.

It marks the first occasion that a prize fight has taken place at the immense Dallas Cowboys Stadium, built at a cost of 1.2 billion US dollars.

When Muhammad Ali fought Cleveland Williams at the new Houston Astrodome in 1966, Bob Arum was the promoter. Four and a half decades later, with the collaboration of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the fight — originally to have staged Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather, which collapsed at the negotiating stage - has taken on major dimensions.

It is now being referred to as 'The Super Brawl’ at the Cowboys Stadium. “It is an honour to fight here this week,” said Pacquiao, who runs for a congressional seat in the Philippines after this fight. “I’m not saying if I win the election it will be my last fight, I’m going to decide (afterwards).”

It should be some event, in what is arguably the greatest stadium on earth.


De La Hoya: Easy for Pac-Man

Oscar De La Hoya believes Manny Pacquiao will have an "easy time" of it against Joshua Clottey this weekend - but is not so sure the Filipino can beat Floyd Mayweather Jnr if the two modern greats ever meet in the ring.

Pac-Man puts his WBO welterweight title on the line on Saturday when he takes on Clottey at Cowboys Stadium in Texas, live on Sky Sports.

While some are predicting the tough Ghanaian may prove a handful, De La Hoya feels the defending champion will comfortably retain his belt.

In an exclusive interview on Sky Sports News, De La Hoya - who has not fought since losing to Pacquiao back in December of 2008 - explained how Clottey's defensive technique will play right into his opponent's hands.

Easy fight

"I think Manny Pacquiao will have an easy time with Joshua Clottey," he predicted.

"Styles make fights, and his (Clottey's) defence is one where he blocks punches, then he has to bring his hands down to look at you and then throw punches.

"Manny is too fast to stay there in the pocket and receive punches. I believe he will hit him then move side-to-side.

"Clottey will look for him, but he's not going to be there. He (Pacquiao) is going to do the same thing for 12 rounds.

"It's probably going to be an easy fight for him."

Pacquiao had originally been set to face Floyd Mayweather Jnr in a money-spinning showdown between the two biggest names in the sport.

However a dispute over pre-fight drug testing led to negotiations between the two parties collapsing, forcing both boxers to find new opponents.

Mayweather will instead take on Shane Mosley in May and De La Hoya - now a promoter - fears the bout with Pacquiao may never now go ahead.

"I'm having my doubts now because Floyd Mayweather Jnr is fighting Shane Mosley, and the interesting part about that fight is that Sugar Shane has the bets shot at beating Floyd Mayweather," he said.

"I've faced both guys and I have to say that there is going to be a knockout in that fight - and it's not going to be pretty.

"I believe Mayweather is the best boxer, purist boxer, in the sport today. He fights to survive, which is the most dangerous boxer out there."

True great
Asked whether Pacquiao has to beat Mayweather to be considered a true great of the sport, De La Hoya replied: "I believe so.

"I believe he's now a true great in the sport but there are a couple of question marks, as there is in every fighters' life, but I believe if Manny Pacquiao beats a Floyd Mayweather Jnr, if that fight happens, then you can obviously consider him as one of the best in the history of the sport."

And what about a winner in what would be, according to De La Hoya, one of the top five fights of all time? "I would have to say Floyd Mayweather, because of styles," the American added.

"I believe Pacquiao would come in, try to get his punches in and be very aggressive. But that plays into Mayweather's hands.

"He's such a defensive, purist boxer. The best there ever has been. He waits for you to make mistakes and then capitalises."


Festive stadium weighs in boxers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A weigh-in at the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium isn't just a normal one.

With screaming fans and the plaza doors open to show the massive video board as a backdrop, Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey weighed in Friday for their Saturday night WBO welterweight title fight.

Pacquiao, the champion, came in at 145¾. Clottey was at 147.

Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, said he wasn't concerned about his fighter's weight. Pacquiao averaged about 152 pounds per day during training.

"After he stopped drinking protein shakes, the weight drops," said Roach, who added his fighter weighed 144 on Friday morning.

The fighters tried to stare each other down after the weigh-in but broke out in laughter.

The weigh-in was attended by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said this inaugural fight at the stadium is "hopefully one of many."

Promoter Bob Arum said he expects the fight to have at least 1 million pay-per-view buys with the fight shown in more than 80 million homes worldwide.

The event brought out a star-studded crowd which included actor Robert Duvall and former Dallas Cowboys safety Darren Woodson.

Cowboys officials expect 42 former and current members of the team to attend the fight, including former coach Jimmy Johnson and ex-quarterback Troy Aikman.

The fight is nearing a sellout of 45,000, and stadium officials said they will sell standing-room only tickets for $35 each.


Pacquiao to follow Hoya fight blueprint

GRAPEVINE, Texas—Manny Pacquiao will be tracing the Oscar De La Hoya blueprint when he stakes his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown against Joshua Clottey on March 13 at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Launch an all-out attack throughout. Control him all night long. Don’t let him set. Keep turning him. Hit and then get out of the way. Go under and out, both sides.

These were four-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach’s instructions when Pacquiao made De La Hoya quit on his stool after eight rounds on Dec. 8, 2008.

Roach merely recited them again on the final day of their training Thursday at the Gaylord Texan Hotel here.

And Pacquiao responded with aplomb, showing Roach that he knows them by heart.

So satisfied was Roach that he quickly ended the light training session in less than an hour, way too short and easy for Pacquiao, who’s used to two hours of uninterrupted training sessions.

“Go home,” hollered Roach, immediately removing his gloves so that Pacquiao would not have a chance to ask for more, as he normally does.

“We were doing more talking than punching,” explained Roach. “I don’t want him to do much. Serve and move myself in a position that Clottey does and he knew exactly what to do with the positions. He’s 100 percent ready.”

According to Roach, Pacquiao was doing everything according to plan.

“Like today with me, he’s always behind me. He’s not keeping himself in front of me, always making that move to the side. He knew exactly how to fight this side,” said Roach who predicted that Pacquiao would be the first boxer to stop Clottey, either in the sixth or seventh round.

Of course, Roach also has words of wisdom to impart on Pacquiao, three-time Fighter of the Year and Fighter of the Decade as well.

Don’t let Clottey line on the ropes or fall into the pocket. Don’t fight him inside, the rationale being that Clottey is good with his uppercut and his head.

Roach explained that when Clottey jabs he comes forward with his head, his whole body comes forward and if Manny stands there and let him do that, he can bang his head or get hit.

According to Roach, this is probably the smoothest training camp they ever had since he took Pacquiao under his wings in 2001.

With Pacquiao in peak form, the only thing that could stand in the way is for the pound-for-pound king to get a little too cocky and allow Clottey to hit him, just like what he allowed Miguel Cotto to do to him last Nov. 14.

“If he (Manny) does that, he might get knocked out because Clottey is a better puncher than Cotto. But I don’t see that happening because his focus is so good and his mindset is perfect right now.”

Though he’d advised his ward not to go into the ropes, Roach said it’s up to Manny to decide as they’ve also studied how to get out of it.

But sometimes, Pacquiao just wanted to go to the ropes and find out how hard his opponent hits.

He did it against Cotto and wound up with a busted right ear drum.

Roach could only hope that Pacquiao has learned his lesson.


Win over Clottey to boost Pacquiao's hand vs Mayweather

MANILA, Philippines – A strong performance by World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao against challenger Joshua Clottey on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) will put him in a better negotiating position against Floyd Mayweather, a boxing analyst said Friday.

But this is if Pacquiao still wants a multi-million dollar super fight with the former pound-for-pound king, said veteran boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz in an interview over dzMM.

“If I know Manny as I think I know him, he will try to put on a spectacular show. [So that] when they negotiate with Mayweather, they will have the upper hand,” he said.

However, Nathanielsz said Pacquiao won't have an easy time against Clottey, who is a full-blown welterweight boxer.

“[Conditioning coach Alex] Ariza said Clottey is a very dangerous opponent,” he said.

Nathanielsz said that if Pacquiao plays his cards right, he can win the match in the middle to latter rounds just as coach Freddie Roach predicted.

Somewhere in 6, 7, 8...

“Somewhere there, (Rounds 6, 7, 8)… but you know, ugali ni Manny Pacquiao, entertainer siya, eh. Palagi niyang concern is ‘I want to make the people happy’,” said the analyst.

Sports analyst Joaquin Henson shared Nathanielsz’s view about Clottey.

“The consensus is it won’t be easy disposing of the Ghanaian challenger,” said Henson in his analysis published in The Philippine Star on Friday.

He said that among the things Pacquiao should watch out for is Clottey’s unpredictability, aside from the Ghanaian’s ability to handle southpaws.

And of course, there’s Clottey’s size.

“Clottey’s size may make it a little difficult for Pacquiao to find angles for his punches and he’ll surely use his body mass to tire out the Filipino by leaning on him. The downside is because of his huge frame, Clottey is not as mobile as Pacquiao, making him an easy target,” Henson said.