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Head to head: Pacquiao-Clottey



When: Saturday, March 13

Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: HBO Pay-per-view, 9 pm. ET / 6 p.m. PT

Weight: Welterweight (147 pounds)

Title(s) at stake: Pacquiao’s welterweight title

Also on the card: Humberto Soto vs. David Diaz, 12 rounds, for a vacant lightweight title; Alfonso Gomez vs. Jose Luis Castillo, 10 rounds, welterweights; John Duddy vs. Michael Medina, 10 rounds, middleweights.


The essentials

Age: 31

Height / reach: 5-6¾ (169cm) / 67 (170cm)

Stance: Southpaw

Hometown: General Santos City, Philippines

Nickname: Pacman

Turned pro: 1995

Record: 50-3-2 (38 knockouts)

Trainer: Freddie Roach


The Ring rating: No. 1 pound for pound; junior welterweight champion

Titles: Flyweight (1998-99; stripped for failing to make weight); junior featherweight (2001-03; vacated); THE RING featherweight (2003; vacated); junior lightweight (2008; vacated); lightweight (2008-09; vacated); THE RING junior welterweight (2009-present); welterweight (2009-present).

Biggest victories: Chatchai Sasakul, Dec. 4, 1998, KO 8 (won first title); Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, June 23, 2001, TKO 6; Marco Antonio Barrera, Nov. 15, 2003, TKO 11; Erik Morales, Jan. 21, 2006, TKO 10; Morales, Nov. 18, 2006, KO 3; Barrera, Oct. 6, 2007, UD 12; Juan Manuel Marquez, March 15, 2008, SD 12; Oscar De La Hoya, Dec. 6, 2008, TKO 8; Ricky Hatton, May 2, 2009, KO 2; Miguel Cotto, Nov. 14, 2009, TKO 12.

Losses: Rustico Torrecampo, Feb. 9, 1996, KO 3; Medgoen Singsurat, Sept. 17, 1999, KO 3; Morales, March 19, 2005, UD 12.

Draws: Agapito Sanchez, Nov. 10, 2001, TD 6 (Pacquiao cut); Marquez, May 8, 2004, D 12.


The essentials

Age: 32

Height / reach: 5-8 (173cm) / 70 (178cm)

Stance: Orthodox

Hometown: Bronx, New York

Nickname: Grand Master

Turned pro: 1995

Record: 35-3 (20 knockouts)

Trainers: Lenny DeJesus


The Ring rating: No. 5 welterweight

Titles: IBF welterweight (2008-09; stripped of title for failing to beat the deadline to defend against the IBF’s mandatory contender).

Biggest victories: Zab Judah, Aug. 2, 2008, TD 9 (won vacant IBF welterweight title); Diego Corrales, April 7, 2007, UD 10; Richar Gutierrez, June 29, 2006, MD 12; Shamone Alvarez, Dec. 20, 2007, UD 12.

Losses: Antonio Margarito, Dec. 2, 2006, UD 12 (for Margarito’s WBO welterweight title); Carlos Baldomir, Nov. 20, 1999, DQ 11 (for intentional headbutts); Miguel Cotto, June 13, 2009, SD 12.


Skills: Both fighters are good technicians, but Pacquiao has a more varied arsenal and a more versatile style. The pound-for-pound king can stick-and-move, pressure fight, counter punch off the ropes, or pot shot from the outside. Clottey is almost like an orthodox Winky Wright in that he stands his ground and works a hard one-two from a high guard. Like Wright, he does it well, but that’s pretty much all he does.
Edge: Pacquiao

Power: Clottey’s the naturally bigger — and presumably stronger — man but there’s no doubt who the puncher in this contest is. Those who have doubts can contact Miguel Cotto and the former titleholder will set them straight on who hits harder. Pacquiao’s power shots are more than just damaging, they are devastating when they land directly to an opponent’s chin.
Edge: Pacquiao

Speed and athletic ability: One of the key things that made Pacquiao the fighter of the past decade was his ability to retain his speed, reflexes and power while moving up in weight. Pacquiao is every bit as quick and agile at 147 pounds as he was at 122 and 126. Clottey has quick hands and reflexes — for a welterweight.
Edge: Pacquiao

Defense: There little doubt that Pacquiao is the sport’s premiere offensive fighter. The drawback with offensive-minded fighters is that they get hitÔǪ even when they dominate. Pacquiao controlled the entire fight with Cotto but he still looked like he had just been mugged at the post-fight press conference. It’s not that Pacquiao has a poor defense, it’s just that he doesn’t always care to get out of the way of punches. Clottey can take a great shot but he doesn’t want to have to prove it, and the Ghanaian does an excellent job of blocking incoming shots with his gloves and catching them on his arms and forearms.
Edge: Clottey

Experience: Pacquiao, a veteran of 55 pro bouts, has faced the very best fighters of at least five of the seven weight classes where he has won world titles, some of whom — such as De La Hoya, Marquez, Barrera and Morales — are future first-ballot hall of famers. Even some of the lesser-known fighters Pacquiao faced before establishing his name at featherweight and junior lightweight — such as lineal flyweight champ Sasakul, 122-pound belthodlers Ledwaba and Agapito Sanchez, and former featherweight title challenger Wethya Sakmuangklang — were top contenders and even world-beaters at one time. Clottey has faced many solid fighters over the years but only two are considered even borderline future hall of famers, Cotto and the undersized and very faded Corrales.
Edge: Pacquiao

Chin: Two of Pacquiao’s three losses were by knockout, but it must be noted that one of those stoppages occurred when he was still a very raw teenager and the other was the result of a body shot after he had severely drained himself to make the 112-pound limit. By all accounts, Pacquiao has a very reliable chin, especially as he’s stepped up in weight. There were moments when clean single shots from Marquez, Morales, and even Oscar Larios, stunned or rocked him momentarily but his recuperative ability kicked in immediately. He proved versus Cotto that he can take a welterweight’s punch. Clottey also took Cotto’s best shots, as he has from top welterweights such as Margarito, Judah and Gutierrez, as well as lesser-known fringe fighters who can punch such as Felix Flores and Jeffery Hill. Clottey, who has never been stopped and only dropped once (against Cotto), has never been seriously hurt in a prize fight and he’s used to being hit by much bigger and stronger fighters than Pacquiao has faced.
Edge: Clottey

Conditioning: Both fighters are fanatical about their conditioning and are always prepared to fight the 12-round distance. However, Pacquiao is prepared to do so with off-the-chart levels of intensity. It’s not uncommon for Pacquiao to average above 100 punches per round while working the mitts with Roach for more than 15 rounds — without breaks between rounds! Roach gives out before Pacquiao does.
Edge: Pacquiao

Wear and tear: Neither fighter has ever absorbed a career-shortening beating in the ring and both are in their athletic/physical primes.
Edge: Even

Corner: Pacquiao has Roach, the four-time winner of the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Trainer of the Year award, in his corner. They’ve been together for almost 10 years. Clottey has his cutman, part-time locksmith Lenny DeJesus, in his corner. Saturday’s fight will DeJesus’s first as Clottey’s head trainer.
Edge: Pacquiao

Outcome: Pacquaio will jump out to an early lead with quick in-and-out movement and lightening fast combinations that mostly land on Clottey’s gloves, forearms and elbows. Clottey will land an occasional jab or left to the body to keep Pacquiao honest in the early rounds. The challenger will also shake his head to let the superstar know he is unhurt but he will be down 3-0 on the scorecards after the first three rounds. After assessing Pacquiao’s power, Clottey will attempt to walk Pacquiao down while letting his hands go in earnest. He will land one-two combinations that back Pacquiao up and get a rise out of the crowd, but he will also find that Pacquiao is more than willing to stand and trade with a bigger man. Rounds five, six and seven will feature excellent exchanges from both men as they stand their ground in the center of the ring. Clottey will give as he gets in these middle rounds. However, as the fight moves into the later rounds it will be Clottey who begins to wilt from Pacquiao’s shotgun jab, pin-point body shots and occasional uppercuts that pierce his tight guard. Clottey will gradually give up trying to manhandle Pacquiao and go on the defensive as the little dynamo mounts a late-rounds attack. Clottey’s defensive shell and rock-solid chin will hold up and he will survive to hear the final bell but he will lose the championship rounds.

Prediction: Pacquiao will win a competitive but clear-cut unanimous decision.

Michael Rosenthal contributed to this report