Saturday, March 13, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -Greetings, Boxing Blog fans. The Blog is here at the awe inspiring Cowboys Stadium, where at about 11:30 ET Manny Pacquiao will 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.
Couple of things before we get started:
• 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.
We'll be back closer to the start of the main event to bring you some atmosphere from the fight and then bring you detailed, round-by-round coverage of the fight.