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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pacquiao Routs Clottey, Eyes Mayweather-Mosley Winner

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By Jake Donovan (photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank)

It seemed to take forever to get to, from the terrible undercard to the three separate National Anthems played prior to the extended ringwalks.

Once the opening bell finally rang for the first big boxing even of 2010, Manny Pacquiao tried his hardest to make the evening worthwhile for all.

Unfortunately for Pacquiao, his opponent wasn’t quite as willing to help put on a show.

Throught it all, the reigning pound-for-pound king and three-time Fighter of the Year turned in a virtuoso performance with a lopsided unanimous decision win over former welterweight titlist and current top contender Joshua Clottey.

The bout served as the main event of an HBO card, which aired live in front of a crowd of 50,994 at the newly renovated, state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Action wasn’t exactly overflowing in the opening round, partly due to Clottey throwing up the earmuffs early, far more interested in playing defense than trying to take the fight to his naturally smaller foe. Pacquiao was patient, working largely behind the jab and occasionally scoring with his laser-like straight left hand.

The difference in speed was overwhelming in the second. Both fighters were bouncing on their toes, but it was Pacquiao doing nearly all of the scoring, breaking through Clottey’s guard to and left hands straight down the middle.

Clottey attempted to play possum late in the round, before coming back with a right hand of his own. However, it was one of only 27 punches he threw in the entire round, nearly four times less the total of Pacquiao.

Urged by new head trainer Lenny DeJesus to let his hands go, Clottey did his best to oblige. A right uppercut snapped Pacquiao’s head back, and also scored with several straight right hands. Pacquiao was still the far busier of the two, but not landing a lot of clean punches beyond right hooks to the body and one-two combos through the uprights.

Pacquiao continued to work the body in the fourth, while Clottey continued to wait way too long to throw punches. The Ghanaian woke up midway through the round, but went back into turtle shell defense. Pacquiao continued to lap him in terms of activity, at one point driving Clottey into a corner, though nothing of substance landed.

A reversal of fortunes threatened to surface in the fifth, as Clottey enjoyed success early in the round. The outburst was short-lived, while Pacquiao showed no signs of slowing down.

The same held true in the sixth and seventh rounds, with Clottey continuing to ignore his corner’s instructions to open up. He instead remained behind his high guard, waiting for Pacquiao to stop punching before finally throwing the same basic jab, right hand combo.

Though he was throwing few punches, enough Clottey right hands caused Pacquiao’s right eye to begin to swell. Head trainer Freddie Roach didn’t seem concerned over it, other than requesting more movement from Pacquiao, while Clottey’s corner demanded he “get creative.”

The eighth round saw both fighters work the body. Clottey’s attack resulted in the first called low blow of the fight, coming midway through the round and causing a brief interruption in the bout. Once action resumed, Pacquiao took control, cutting off the ring and forcing Clottey to spend the rest of the round fighting in reverse, often with his back touching the ropes.

With four rounds to go, DeJesus was blunt in his assessment of his client’s performance: “You’re losing every damn round!” The statement seemed to matter little to Clottey, who refused to let his hands go even as he was well past the point of no return.

A brief deviation from the script came at similar points in the ninth and tenth rounds, when Clottey unloaded with several right hands. On both occasions, he immediately returned to his old style, allowing the smaller Pacquiao to bully him around the ring.

The crowd came alive in the championship rounds, chanting “Manny, Manny” throughout an eleventh round that featured the best round of the fight for both fighters to that point in the fight. Clottey scored with left uppercuts and straight rights, but it only left himself open for a Pacquiao tsunami that never seemed to die down.

With the fight a virtual shutout heading into the final round, the only question left was whether or not Pacquiao could become the first to stop the physically tough but emotionally fragile Clottey.

It never came about, nor was Clottey particularly interested in allowing Pacquiao to think he could turn the trick. A rare early left hook caught Pacquiao, only for an accidental clash of heads to bring an immediate pause to the sequence.

Clottey let his hands go more often than at any other point in the fight, though it wasn’t saying much. Nor did Pacquiao seem particularly threatened, continually letting his hands go in his typical determination to close the show.

The reading of the scorecards was a mere formality, with Pacquiao winning by deservedly wide margins of 120-108 and 119-109 (twice). He racks up his 12th consecutive win dating back to 2005 as he improves to 51-3-2 (38KO) with his first win of 2010.

Clottey remains the poster child of hard luck fighters, having not won a fight since his vacant title-winning effort against Zab Judah in August 2008. The loss to Pacquiao is his second straight as he dips to 35-4 (21KO).

Prior to Saturday, Clottey has always contended that he should still be undefeated. Pacquiao’s performance – and Clottey’s own non-performance – helped change his mind on that topic.

“He has speed. This is the first time where I believe I lost a fight. He was waiting for me to open to counter me. I realized that I couldn’t land my power punches on him, because he was so fast.”

Who – or when - Pacquiao will next land his punches on remains a mystery. The obvious choice is the winner of the May 1 HBO PPV event between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley, but such a decision will come after Pacquiao runs for office in his native Philippines.

It doesn’t mean he can’t offer his opinion on whether or not his next potential fight will be the one the sport most often craves.

“I want the fight, because the people want to see the fight. But it’s up to (Floyd) if he wants to fight me. It’s not a problem for me to fight him; we’re ready to fight at any time. But I don’t think he’s ready to fight. Someday we’ll be ready to fight.”

The biggest and only unresolved issue in the failed attempt to secure a fight with Mayweather came over the handling of drug testing. Pacquiao’s side wanted whatever was decided by the commission of the state in which the fight would take place, while Mayweather demands Olympic style random urine and blood samples be taken.

A Mayweather win will only mean that issue remains on the table, considering that he’s also demanding the same of Mosley.

Pacquiao refused to comment on the drug testing issue when pressed, although he was quick with a fitting alternative response.

“Mayweather should win against Mosley… but if not, maybe Mosley and I will fight.”


For the second straight time in as many Top Rank collaborations with HBO PPV, a dreadfully dull in-house undercard was offered. The lack of intriguing action couldn’t have come at a worse time, lending to a 3 ½ hour televised card on the eve of Daylight Savings Time.

In a bout that was more entertaining than it was meaningful in the grand scheme of things, Humberto Soto offered a professional effort in his 12-round unanimous decision over former lightweight titlist David Diaz.

Soto scored knockdowns in the first and last rounds of the bout, though Diaz’ trademark warrior heart was evident throughout.

The opening round left Diaz cut from an accidental butt, and staggered just enough from a left hook to lose balance and touch the canvas with his glove, resulting in the first knockdown.

Things got better for the Chicago-based Mexican, who picked up steam as the fight went along, while Soto’s stamina became an issue midway through the bout.

It allowed Diaz back into the fight, but Soto gained his second wind down the stretch when it mattered most. With the bout already well in the bag, the former junior lightweight titlist worked hard to close the show in the 12th and final round.

While the bout ultimately went the distance, Diaz was once against introduced to Soto’s susceptive power. A right hand and left hook began a flurry that eventually caused Diaz to wobble, failing in an attempt to clinch as he stumbled to the canvas.

The last round knockdown simply added to the pile once the scorecards were read, with tallies of 115-111 and 117-109 all in favor of Soto.

Soto scores his sixth straight win as he improves to 51-7-2 (32KO). The plan was to target a showdown with undefeated Venezuelan knockout artist Edwin Valero, who is also promoted by Top Rank. Judging by the vacant title at stake, such a matchup is hard to fathom, at least in the foreseeable future.

What’s even harder to predict is where Diaz, now 35-3-1 (17KO) goes from here. The former lightweight titlist was inactive for more than a year after his brutal knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao nearly two years ago.

He returned to the ring last September, struggling to a majority decision over a badly faded Jesus Chavez, then sitting out another six months before this fight.

Former Contender semifinalist Alfonso Gomez picked up his fourth straight win with a stoppage of former lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo after five rounds.

There was little action to speak of, other than Gomez controlling the fight from the onset and turning up the heat in the fourth round. Somewhere in between the fifth and sixth rounds, Castillo decided he had enough, opting to quit on his stool.

The official time was 3:00 of round five.

Gomez improves 22-4-2 (11KO) with the victory, having not lost since his fifth round beatdown at the hands of then-unbeatean two-division titlist Miguel Cotto in April 2008.

Swinging in the other direction, retirement appears to be the only sensible option for Castillo, who falls to 60-10-1 (52KO) with the loss.

The former lightweight king is best remembered for his unforgettable first fight with Diego “Chico” Corrales, but his career has declined shortly after the rematch later in the year. He rode a modest five-fight win streak against non-descript competition, but in this fight looked more like the shot version that was convincingly beaten by Sebastian Lujan 20 months ago.

Fringe middleweight contender John Duddy opened the telecast with a split decision win over Michael Medina. Scores were 96-93 (twice) for Duddy, and 96-93 for Medina.

The announcement was met with a chorus of boos from the crowd, though hard to tell if it was over the decision, or the fact that the fight was as disinteresting as it was meaningless.

The show was presented by Top Rank Inc.

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at .

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