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Pacquiao gives another great performance in spite of Clottey

14
Mar

Joshua Clottey refused to come out of his shell but Manny Pacquiao (right) was able to inflict more than enough damage to beat another elite opponent. Photo / Chris Farina

ARLINGTON, Texas – Manny Pacquiao can’t look spectacular against an opponent who refuses to fight.

Joshua Clottey curled up like a frightened armadillo and barely threw enough punches to win a round Saturday night at the new Cowboys Stadium. The tireless Filipino was at his most active, trying to break down the bigger man, but he couldn’t do serious damage without openings.

That shouldn’t diminish another dominating performance against a world-class opponent. Pacquiao almost shut out an immensely strong former title-holder who is in his prime, winning every round on one card and 11 of 12 on two to retain his welterweight title.

That’s a rout of epic proportions, certainly like nothing Clottey (35-4, 20 knockouts) has experienced in his successful 15-year career.

The 50,994 that filled the enclosed stadium, almost all of them rooting heartily for Pacquiao, were pleased that their man won but were obviously hoping to experience something more.

When the disappointment of the man-versus-punching-bag exhibition wears off, though, we’ll realize that this performance rates with the three that lifted him to superstardom – KOs of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.

Pacquiao was at his best even if Clottey didn’t fall.

“I thought we won every round,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer. “We pressured him. Clottey has good defense but good defense isn’t enough to win a fight.”

The atmosphere was electric at Cowboys Stadium, the $1.2 billion playground of Jerry Jones that features the world’s biggest JumboTron screen. Those who watched it saw 72-foot-tall fighters.

Stadium officials curtained off the top deck and almost all the remaining seats were filled, giving it the feel and energy of a packed house. And the vastness of the building, far bigger than arenas typically used for boxing, added to the grandeur.

The crowd, clearly aware of the special moment, buzzed with anticipation of seeing in action the most-exciting fighter in the world. It was a perfect night for a great fight. That was clear even to Pacquiao.

“It made me so happy when I walked in,” he said, referring to his ring walk through the stands and into the ring. “I felt so excited. I was thinking, ‘I have to give my best because the people want to see a good fight.'”

And then the opening bell rang.

Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) banged incessantly to the body and tried to fire through Clottey’s shell-like guard, anything in an attempt to open him up and deliver more-meaningful blows. However, Clottey remained as closed as a stubborn oyster.

The Ghanian saved himself from a possible knockout but, doggedly choosing defense over any meaningful offense, he gave himself almost no chance to win the fight and spoiled the night to some degree.

Consider the punch statistics. Pacquiao threw a remarkable 1,231 punches – 103 per round – and landed 246. He also connected 232 of 682 power punches. Clottey threw a paltry 399 punches and landed 108. That’s only 33 punches per round, the number a plodding heavyweight might throw.

In other words, evidence suggests he transitioned from fighting to surviving once he realized that he wasn’t going to beat a far superior opponent.

Also consider Clottey’s payday. He could make as much as $2.5 million, which includes a guaranteed purse and a percentage of the profits. Two and a half million for that? Pacquiao, who earned his $12 million-plus, and anyone who watched the fight deserved better than Clottey gave.

Roach, who had predicted a knockout, shrugged his shoulders at the post-fight media conference.

“You fight for a world title once in a lifetime sometimes,” he said. “I thought he would be more offensive to try to take the title from us. It seemed like he was trying to survive. It was just very hard to knock him out.”

Again, though, Pacquiao has every reason to be proud. He gave a legitimate opponent the thrashing of life before a huge crowd at a glitzy new stadium as millions around the world watched. Not a bad night’s work.

And the future looks even brighter. He could fight the winner of the May 1 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley showdown sometime in the fall or perhaps next year, assuming his run for a congressional seat in the Philippines allows it and the parties can come to terms.

The fans want to see Pacquiao vs. Mayweather – the Nos. 1 and 2 fighters on earth – and Pacquiao wants to give it to them.

“I want that fight,” he said, “but it’s up to him. I’m ready to fight any time.”

After Saturday night, all we want is a real fight.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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