Lessons from Pacquiao-Clottey
If you want to win a world title, you need a better effort than Joshua Clottey gave
Manny Pacquiao's supreme conditioning never allowed his opponent the chance
Clottey is one of the world's elite welterweights, yet Pacquiao dominated
Five things we learned from Manny Pacquiao's unanimous decision over Joshua Clottey Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium:
1. Simply put, Joshua Clottey didn't come to win.
B's and C's may get degrees, but a half-hearted effort gets you nothing if you're fighting for a world championship. Clottey spent the first six rounds in a deep defensive guard, not throwing nearly enough punches to match Pacquiao's extraordinary work rate. Even when he showed flashes of initiative, like a series of combinations early in the seventh, Pacquiao responded with a combination and Clottey reverted to the earmuffs. At first you wondered if there was a method to the madness -- was Clottey letting the champion punch himself out? No matter. If there was a trap to spring, Pacquiao's supreme conditioning never allowed his opponent the chance.
2. Pacquiao's work rate was off the charts.
The CompuBox numbers were outrageous: Pacquiao let fly 1,231 punches -- more than 100 per round -- and landed 246 of them. Even more staggering, Pacquiao threw 832 more punches than Clottey. Even if Saturday's fight didn't culminate with the spectacular denouement we've come to expect from Pacquiao's outings, the champion still delivered a virtuoso performance. Unable to penetrate Clottey's fortress-like defense in the early rounds, Pacquiao continued to circle the challenger, staying busy while throwing unpredictable flurries of punches. If Clottey did land the occasional shot -- the right hook into an uppercut was a stand-by -- Pacquiao absorbed the damage and moved forward. When Clottey snapped Pacquiao's head with a right uppercut in the third round, the champion quickly gathered his bearings and finished the round strong.
3. The champion is that good.
Make no mistake: Clottey is one of the world's elite welterweights. This wasn't Oscar De La Hoya, a faded legend who'd outgrown the 147-pound division. It wasn't Miguel Cotto, who fought Pacquiao at a catch-weight of 145. Clottey is a full-sized welterweight with significant height and reach advantages who likely outweighed Pacquiao by 15 pounds. And the tough-as-nails Ghanian couldn't even win a round. Pacquiao's fight plan to attack the body -- he landed a career-high 108 body shots -- was executed to perfection against stubborn opposition. "This is the first time I have lost a fight," Clottey said. "All my fights I lost, I never thought I lost."
4. We need more boxing in stadium-size venues.
The official attendance for Saturday's card at Cowboys Stadium was 50,994, a figure that managed to exceed the rosy expectations of Bob Arum and Jerry Jones. Only two fights in the U.S. during the past 50 years drew more fans: Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks II at the Superdome in 1978 (63,350) and Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez at the Alamodome in 1993 (59,995). Even though Clottey fought a negative fight, the atmosphere in Jones' $1.3 billion pleasure palace was electric from start to finish. With Cotto scheduled to meet Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium on June 5, here's hoping we're seeing the dawn of a trend of boxing in larger venues.
5. There's (still) only one fight that every sports fan wants to see.
Presuming Floyd Mayweather gets past Shane Mosley on May 1, the megafight between Pacquiao and Pretty Boy Floyd must happen. It's almost impossible to imagine both fighters walking away from an $80 million purse again, regardless of the animosity between the camps. "It's a fight the world's wants to see," Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said. "Get in the ring and fight us."