Live from Texas: Pacquiao-Clottey
If you're not at tonight's big fight, we've got the inside scoop
Manny Pacquiao's trainer doesn't seem concerned with Joshua Clottey
In addition, Clottey doesn't seem convinced he can win this fight
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Greetings, Boxing Blog fans. The Blog is here at the awe-inspiring Cowboys Stadium, where Manny Pacquiao is trying to defend his WBO welterweight title against former 147-pound champion Joshua Clottey. If you can't buy the fight on Pay Per View, don't worry: The Blog will fill you in on everything that's happening here in Texas.
12:42 a.m. -- That's it Blog readers, thanks for reading. I'll have a column on Pacquiao in this week's Sports Illustrated and a little something for you on Monday on SI.com. Thanks for reading!
12:39 a.m. -- SI.com scored it 117-111, but I can accept the judges decision. I can live with it. Pacquiao threw more jabs than he ever has before and Clottey just wanted to survive. Yawn.
12:37 a.m. --Unanimous decision for Pacquiao. Judges score it 120-108, 119-109, 119-109.
12:35 a.m. -- Big hugs between the fighters. Man do I miss Floyd. Clash of heads stops the action momentarily. Manny launching combinations now. Clottey powers in a few body shots and again with the uppercut. There is just no way to get inside on Clottey. Clottey absorbs another flurry. The bell sounds. I'm giving this one to Clottey. 10-9 Clottey. Unofficial tally: Pacquiao 117-111.
12:31 a.m. -- This is a good HBO fight. This is a bad PPV fight. Same start to this round. Couple of good uppercuts by Clottey. Where has that been? Hard attack by Pacquiao backs Clottey up. But again, his defense is impregnable. More uppercuts by Clottey. Pacquiao flurries again. Another round for Manny. 10-9 Pacquiao. Unofficial tally: Pacquiao 108-101.
12:27 a.m. -- Enough with the touching gloves before every round. What is that, a Top Rank edict? Humbero Soto and David Diaz did it too. More Clottey defense. Pacquiao still probing. Manny connects with a good left. Manny is going to have sore hands from the amount of punches that are connecting with Clottey's forearms. Clottey connects with a good combination. Manny hurt! Comes back though, more combinations. Body shots. Everything. Clottey against the ropes. Close again, but another for Pacquiao. 10-9 Pacquiao. Unofficial tally: Pacquiao 98-92.
12:23 a.m. -- Pacquiao pushes Clottey back with the jab. Clottey still catching a lot. Pacquiao is still throwing, though. Indefatigable. Clottey rips off a combination that Pacquiao seemed to invite. Pacquiao slips a few punches past the defense, sends Clottey back to the ropes. God this is boring. Punch, Clottey! Give another round to Pacquiao. 10-9 Pacquiao. Unofficial tally: Pacquiao 88-83.
12:19 a.m. -- Does Clottey just want to go the distance? I wonder. Clottey hits Manny with a hard left hook. Manny not showing as many angles now, just trying to get inside. Pacquiao hacking away at Clottey now. Low blow by Clottey and the ref calls time. Heads collide briefly. Pacquiao still peppering Clottey with punches. Clottey back to not engaging. Give it to Pacquiao. 10-9 Pacquiao.
12:15 a.m. -- This rounds are beginning to mirror each other. Clottey fires off a combination, then covers up. Clottey rocks Pacquiao with a right. Clottey throwing a little bit more as Manny hangs on the ropes. Manny rocks Clottey with a straight left that snuck through. Close, but give this to Clottey. 10-9 Clottey.
12:12 a.m. -- Ringside reporter just shouted that Clottey was averaging 30 punches a round. Ugh.
12:11 a.m. -- Pacquiao taps his gloves together, urging Clottey to fight. Clottey comes forward, Manny on the ropes again. Not hurt, just laying back. Both fighters looking for openings. Clottey smacks Manny with a combination. Manny goes back to the body. Clottey continues to gobble up most of the punches aimed at his head. Another close round, but give it to Manny. 10-9 Pacquiao.
12:07 a.m. -- Pacquiao is practically begging Clottey to fight. Clottey lands a clean combination. Straight jab by Clottey is followed by a quick flurry. Pacquiao yapping at Clottey to keep coming. I see the strategy. He's trying to get Clottey to open up. Pacquiao responds with a late flurry. I'm giving this to Clottey. 10-9 Clottey.
12:03 a.m. -- Clottey straight back to the earmuffs. Manny looking for angles. Good counterpunch by Pacquiao connects to Clottey's skull. Clottey up against the ropes, still playing defense. Few counterpunches coming. Manny unloading with combinations that are being absorbed by Clottey's hands and arms. Clottey connects with a good combination at the end of the round, but it's not enough. Another round for Pacquiao. 10-9 Pacquiao.
11:59 p.m. -- Manny's punches are finding more of Clottey's body. Clottey rocks Manny with a right and an uppercut. Manny presses forward, backs Clottey up with combinations. The body attack is clearly on Manny's mind. Clottey connects with a combination of his own. Manny backs Clottey up in the corner. Clottey looks a little hurt. Responds with a straight right though. Close, but give another round to Pacquiao, 10-9.
11:54 p.m. -- This is almost what we dreaded from Clottey. He is covering up and making Pacquiao punch through his arms and gloves. Pacquiao going to the body more, trying to cut through. Clottey taps with the jab. Getting through now, Clottey wobbles but it's hard to tell if he's hurt or he was mocking Manny. Manny throwing combinations in bunches now. Convincing round, 10-9 Pacquiao
11:50 p.m. -- Crowd on its feet for the opening bell. Pacquiao showing a lot of movement early. Clottey has the earmuffs defense going on that (Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie) Roach warned us about. Pacquiao trying to punch through it. Pacquiao busy, but not a lot of punches getting through. Clottey connects with a couple of straight rights. Pacquiao working the body a little. Dull round, give it to Pacquiao. 10-9 Pacquiao.
Some earlier background:
Cowboys Stadium truly is an industrial work of art, a Picasso if Pablo's tool of choice was a jackhammer and not a paintbrush. The white bubble can be seen off of Industrial Rd. from miles away and, as so many reporters have noted this week, the 160-by-72 foot screen hanging from the rafters is a jaw-dropping spectacle. They expect close to 45,000 fans to pack in here for this fight and I don't see any possibility that the venue won't be a smashing success.
I've spoken to Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, several times this week and each time I've come away with the feeling that Roach isn't too concerned about Clottey.
"[Clottey] could come out and tries to impose his size and strength," Roach told SI.com. "That's what I would do. Or he could go to the ropes and try and get Manny to tire himself out. And that's not going to happen. Manny is in great shape. If he does come forward in straight lines, doesn't use a lot of lateral movement and starts reaching for us, Manny's counterpunching is going to be a big part of this fight. [Clottey] doesn't throw with you. You throw your combination and stand in front of him, he'll hit you back. But we're not going to stand in front of him. Our game plan is pretty simple actually. When his feet are square, he's resting and you can attack. When his feet are planted, he's setting you up. We know when to attack that and when not to. It's about turning the fighter and keeping him off balance.
"There are holes there. His passive defense is not hard to break. The body attack is essential in this fight because he doesn't protect his body that well. I know he has a good chin but I think we can break him down with the body shots. We worked on that quite a bit. We're not going to stand in and take swings at him. We're a little smarter than that.
"His habits are that he doesn't chase punches, he just puts the earmuffs on," Roach continued. "If you go with the hook a little deeper, you get him to block that and open his chin up. That shot through the center is open and that's Manny's best punch. That's Manny's favorite punch. Clottey waits for the flurry to end before he throws because he's coming up. That's good amateur defense but it's not going to work in the pro's with a good fighter. A passive defense like that with no counterpunches is not a way to win a fight."
"I think we can stop this guy. I don't think we can knock him down. I think we can overwhelm him. He's been in with some big punchers and been pretty solid. But I think we can stop him. The punch that will get you is the one you don't see coming. When you work from angles its much more effective than being right in front of the guy."
Not a lot of people are giving Clottey much of a chance. I chatted with a friend of Shane Mosley earlier this week, and Mosley is convinced that Clottey will be little more than a sparring partner. I also have a lot of doubts about Clottey because he doesn't seem convinced he can win this fight. There's been a lot of "if I win's" out of his mouth this week, and that's a warning sign for me.
11:25 p.m. ET -- Welcome back to Cowboys Stadium, where an eye-popping 50,994 fans have packed the house and are minutes away from the start of Pacquiao-Clottey. That attendance figure is interesting. It's a legitimate number-each turnstile has a counter and stadium officials were careful to usher the media around them. But most of the crowd is so far from the action. I wonder if this will have the same feel as a fight at Madison Square Garden, where 20,000-plus fans are right on top of things. We'll see.
11:26 p.m. -- To recap some of the notable fights: John Duddy scored a split decision win over Michael Medina, Alfonso Gomez stopped Jose Luis Castillo in a sixth round TKO (after which Castillo announced his retirement) and Humberto Soto scored an uninspired unanimous decision win over David Diaz.
11:29 p.m. -- Recently-married Blog favorite Cheapo Tony has checked in with his prediction: Pac-Man in a tenth-round KO. Bear in mind, Cheapo Tony has been wrong on each prediction he has proffered to Blog readers.
11:31 p.m. -- As for the Blog: We're taking Pacquiao in a lopsided decision.
11:33 p.m. -- Interested in what other athletes think about the failed Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations? I spent some time with the Dallas Mavericks this week and asked Brendan Haywood that question. Haywood told me that he too was deathly afraid of needles but for that kind of money --purportedly between $35 and $40 million apiece -- that "they could take my blood between quarters."
11:36 p.m. -- A montage of some of the greatest fights in boxing history is followed by another with "Remember the Name" pumping in the backdrop. When it's on a 160-by-72 foot screen, everyone gets jacked up.
11:39 p.m. -- Ex-welterweight champ Josh Clottey making his way to the ring and is drawing virtually no reaction from the crowd. Just a disinterested buzz emanating from the 50,994 in attendance.
11:39 p.m. -- Lights are down, bass is thumping ... and here comes Manny Pacquiao.
11:40 p.m. -- Pacquiao's entrance song of choice: Eye of the Tiger. This crowd is jacked.
11:44 p.m. -- Both fighters look in terrific shape. Clottey has a clear size advantage but that has never caused Pacquiao problems. Can Clottey match -- or at least contain -- Pacquiao's speed? That's the question.
11:45 p.m. -- Someone asked me this week if Michael Buffer would be anything if he didn't have his trademark "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" line. I found myself defending Buffer, reminding a few reporters he starred in "You Don't Mess With The Zohan." I find myself regretting that decision.
11:46 p.m. -- Both fighters have been introduced. We're ready to go!