MANILA, MARCH 15, 2010
(STAR) THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco - Manny Pacquiao once again showed another facet of his repertoire, dominating an opponent reluctant to throw punches and retaining his WBO welterweight title. It was a masterful performance, revealing both great courage and impending limits on the world’s greatest boxer.

Covering the fight for The Filipino Channel, this writer got a close look at the new challenges facing the Pacman as he moves up into more dangerous territory.

Despite the fact that Arlington is the largest city in the world without a mass transit system, spectators flooded Dallas Cowboys Stadium. Accounts vary from 51,000 to 65,000 viewers (with thousands buying standing-room tickets). Of course, many football players, coaches and fans from the Cowboys organization were present, cheering madly.

Pacquiao started the fight very active, circling counterclockwise against Joshua Clottey to stay away from his dangerous right hand. The Filipino champ used his right jab very effectively, simultaneously attacking the body as the Ghanaian closed up like an armor-clad clam.

Pacquiao looked like a lumberjack attacking a sequoia, grunting mightily each time he fired a back-breaking hook into Clottey’s ribcage.

After round two, Buboy Fernandez warned Pacquiao against Clottey’s left foot, which constantly stepped on Pacquiao’s right to keep him from circling away. Freddie Roach echoed the sentiment, reminding Pacquiao to stay away from the right straight of the challenger. In the third round, Clottey became a little more active offensively, but would be inconsistent about it throughout the fight. By the fourth, his substitute trainer Lenny de Jesus would warn him that he was losing every round, but didn’t present any clear solutions to the problem. This was where Clottey’s weakness was truly exposed: he had no clear back-up plan in response to Pacquiao’s shifty movement.

Pacquiao, who had won his last 11 fights going into the bout, kept moving, occasionally goading his opponent into opening up and throwing leather. After the middle rounds, the area under the champion’s right eye started to swell, a minor cause for concern. Clottey was hardly able to touch Pacquiao’s but his few punches were also telling. The main advantage Pacquiao had was his tremendous speed, which was not at its optimum, but still vastly superior. Soon, it was Clottey who was starting to show some wear and tear under his right eye.

Before the 10th round, de Jesus threatened to stop the fight if Clottey didn’t throw more punches. Clottey obliged momentarily, then settled back into his peekaboo defense. Pacquiao was breathing hard, having thrown more jabs than any of his fights in recent history. The fight ended with a flurry by both fighters, trying to give the fans a great show.

Obviously, the postfight discussion centered around a possible fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Roach said bluntly “If he gets into the ring, we will crush him.” Pacquiao was a little more diplomatic. “We want to fight him because that will be a good fight. That’s the fight the fans want to see and I want to give the fans a good show.”

Clottey, loser by a wide unanimous decision, claimed he had more problems with Pacquiao’s speed, but not his power. “I didn’t feel his power at all,” the former world champion declared. “But he has speed. I wanted to whip him, but he has speed, so I was taking my time.”

Needless to say, Clottey never caught Pacquiao.

However, even in the face of Clottey’s unwillingness to engage, Pacquiao did most of the punching, but wasn’t able to knock him out, or even down. The question now, with Pacquiao beyond what his trainers consider his optimum weight (140 lbs.), has he reached his upper limit? Against Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao pulled off a last-round TKO, but was marked with a blackened eye, a swollen ear, and a hurt wrist.

Against Clottey, he was also marked on the face, despite the small volume thrown by the Ghanaian. Freddie Roach has said that one of their concerns is keeping the Pacman healthy. When Pacquiao fought Oscar dela Hoya, Golden Boy went down in weight. Cotto agreed to a catchweight. Clottey was the first welterweight Pacquiao fought on even terms, and prevailed in a long and difficult battle.

Looking back, Clottey could be considered a perfect tune-up for a Mayweather fight. Clottey’s defense was difficult to penetrate, he was big and strong, and he chose to counterpunch. Mayweather is the next step up, a fighter similar to Clottey, with an attitude. Pretty Boy Floyd, ranged against a dangerous Sugar Shane Mosley, will probably be a little more aggressive, and will trash talk Pacquiao. Clottey is a neat simulation.

Let’s see what happens to both Pacquiao and Mayweather after May.

'Pacman truly a champion' (The Philippine Star) Updated March 15, 2010 12:00 AM

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines – He is truly every Filipino’s pride.

This was how Nueva Vizcaya Vice Gov. Jose Gambito described Filipino boxing champ Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao following his 12th round decisive win over Ghanaian warrior Joshua Clottey yesterday.

“Once again, Manny our man proves he is the best pound-for-pound fighter. Definitely, he’s every Filipino’s pride. We take our hats off to Manny,” said Gambito.

Residents of this province’s commercial town filled the 7,000-capacity Tomas Dacayo Community Center, watching in excitement the live telecast of the much-awaited Pacquiao-Clottey showdown that was sponsored by the municipal government led by Mayor Philip Dacayo.

Many viewers, however, were not satisfied with Pacquiao’s latest match compared to his previous fights.

“Manny came to fight. Unfortunately, his rival only showed how to defend himself and that made the fight boring,” said Floro Taguinod, of neighboring Bayombong town.

“Definitely, (Floyd) Mayweather (Jr.) could have been the better fighter. Clottey played like a punching bag of Pacquiao,” said Francis Cabrito of this town.

Betting among neighbtors was not as active as before, as if the outcome of the fight were a foregone conclusion even before the actual match-up took place. – Charlie Lagasca

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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