Manny Pacquiao dominated Joshua Clottey Saturday evening, but that had as much to do with Clottey’s reluctance as Pacquiao’s brilliance. In the welterweight showdown, Pacquiao wildly outworked Clottey, throwing more punches than ever and forcing Clottey to cover up more than ever. In the 6th round, the 39 punches Clottey threw were more than he’d thrown in any round in the fight, and those are famine-like numbers for a 147-pounder. The results? Pacquiao won by scores of 120-108 and 119-109 times two. I had it 119-109.
This fight proved mostly that Pac’s work rate was higher than Clottey’s. And for a scouting report about how Pacquiao might do against the winner of Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley in May, it was mixed. On one level, I think Mayweather’s defensive style is superior to Clottey’s, and Clottey isn’t as good a defensive fighter or as capable of mixing offense with defense as Mayweather is. Clottey also put enough offense on Pacquiao that Mosley might have more luck being being aggressive against Pacquiao than Clottey ever could’ve. On another level, both of those men would open up more than the shy Clottey would, which would give Pacquiao more chances to land.
Basically, this was a boringish, one-sided fight where Clottey just spent so much time covering up it was ridiculous. The highlight of the fight may have been the mythical double-punch Pacquiao landed in the 4th round, throwing two shots around Clottey’s high guard. Certainly, nobody has dominated Clottey like this, but the style had more to do with it than class. Pacquiao simply threw more and landed more as a result. Mostly he landed to the body. Clottey landed well when he landed, but his trademark cover up now/counter after made him a stick in the mud. Some of that had to do with Pacquiao’s power — Clottey’s temporary trainer told HBO’s Max Kellerman between rounds that he thought Clottey was being cautious because he’d felt Pacquiao’s power and didn’t like it. But Clottey’s style was fundamentally a bad match for Pacquiao’s style, which overwhelmed former. Clottey’s defense was good, but his sporadic offense wasn’t nearly enough.
Of course, Pacquiao vs. the winner of Mayweather-Mosley may not happen. Pacquiao’s run for Congress in the Philippines begins in earnest now, and he may retire if he wins. Even if he loses that election, Mayweather and Pacquiao may disagree — as they did before — about drug testing. And if Mayweather-Mosley outsells Pacquiao-Clottey, which it almost certainly will, this fight gets even harder. It’s sad that an anticlimatic fight will almost certainly lead to an anti-climax of the best fight in 20 years or more not happening, but it it what it is. Clottey’s style was made for Pacquiao, and Pacquiao did what he was supposed to, but it might end here.