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Friday, March 12, 2010

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.


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