Pacquiao surely too good for Clottey
Writing about Manny Pacquiao has become a rather difficult task without descending into the use of superlatives so incredible that they seem more at home in a Marvel comic than a boxing article.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey. WBO welterweight title.
Saturday March 13, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, United States.
A man who has transcended his sport in the last few years to become a genuine global superstar, Pacquiao has accelerated through the weight classes at such a phenomenal speed of late that it's hard not to be slightly carried along by the feeling that he's almost invincible.
Two years ago the man from the Philippines was a super-featherweight, weighing in at 130 pounds and musing about a step up to lightweight. Today, he's blasted his way through two weight classes and is a fully-fledged welterweight, fighting at an absolutely incredible 41 pounds heavier than he did on his debut back in 1995 as a skinny sixteen year old.
Now a 31 year old five-weight world champion with a string of legends lying battered in his wake, he is THE face of boxing and on a seemingly inevitable collision course with Floyd Mayweather in order to decide who is the best boxer on Earth.
Writing about Joshua Clottey is another matter altogether.
A durable yet unspectacular fighter from Ghana, the former IBF welterweight champion has mixed in good company, and come fight night, will be comfortably the biggest man Pacquiao has ever been in a ring with.
His record shows three losses, but a disqualification against Carlos Baldomir came when he was ahead on points, and his two decision losses, to Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto, are both subject to debate.
Margarito's subsequent suspension has left his record with a question mark hanging over it, whilst the Cotto loss was very close, with one judge favouring Clottey in a fight most thought Cotto would win comfortably. He's never been stopped.
However, Cotto is the most recent opponent for both men, and whilst Clottey put up a good performance in losing a split decision, Pacquiao absolutely annihilated him, dropping him twice and finding himself miles ahead on points when the referee intervened in the final round.
It could have been stopped earlier, and Cotto later admitted he was ready to quit before his corner ordered him back out in a doomed attempt at a last-ditch stoppage.
The pulverised face of Miguel Cotto serves as a stark warning for what is heading Clottey's way.
This has actually been something Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, has made a roundabout reference to, highlighting that Clottey keeps his hands high, protecting his face and head, leaving him open downstairs and at the mercy of Pacquiao's body attack.
Roach has declared that Pacquiao intends to break Clottey down, withering him with body shots and leaving him exhausted, his attack blunted and incapable of thwarting the merciless Pacquiao, who will give the referee no choice once he's in full flight.
It's hard to imagine Clottey folding on the biggest night of his career, and tactically he will come out cautious and defensive, the stark opposite of Ricky Hatton's wide open attack which saw him laid clean out before the end of the second round.
Yet for all his defensive minded approach and durability, he will need to go on the attack if he wants to give himself any chance of winning, and this leaves him open to a faster, harder hitting opponent who is in the form of his life.
The question therefore becomes not who will win this fight, but whether Pacquiao ends up with a unanimous decision victory or another stoppage win to add to his 38 knockouts.
Firstly, I don't like Clottey's chances when it comes to having the power to force Pacquiao away for a sufficient period of time.
He's only stopped one opponent in the last six years, and whilst I don't think Pacquiao will simply walk through him, 12 rounds of dealing with the harder hitting Miguel Cotto didn't seem to bother him too much.
I believe that by the halfway point the task will be nothing more than an impossibility for Clottey, who will be in survival mode. Then we shall see if Roach's promise about a stoppage materialises.
I think it will, and I believe this fight may resemble Pacquiao's win over David Diaz, with the end coming around the ninth (Pacquiao to win in the 9th - 14/1).
Bout betting odds: Pacquiao 1/7, draw 28/1, Clottey 4/1