Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fight Analysis: Pacquiao-Clottey By: James U. Sy Jr.

The Philippines is once again elated by the victory of Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao of General Santos City, Philippines, who successfully defended his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title against Joshua Clottey of Ghana in front of a crowd of 50,994 last March 14, 2010 at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, USA.

But inspite of this victory fans have mixed emotions about the fight. Nobody doubted that Pacquiao made a stellar showing. He no doubt came to fight. However, not the same can be said of his opponent. Clottey simply covered up and rarely threw punches. The CompuBox showed that Pacquiao landed 246 of 1,231 punches while Clottey connected 108 out of 399 punches. It was obviously a one sided fight.

This disappointed the fans who were used to seeing action packed fights of Pacquiao against some of boxing’s most respected champions such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Óscar Larios, Juan Manuel Márquez, Érik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto.

Many were surprised on how Clottey performed in the biggest fight of his life. Clottey, a former International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight champion and African Boxing Union welterweight champion, kept on going forward but engaged Pacquiao only in spurts, thereby making the fight relatively dull.

There were many theories on why Clottey fought the way he did. One was that he had too much respect fear for or Pacquiao. Another is that Clottey just wanted to protect his reputation of not being knocked down by any boxer. Some have speculated that the fight was rigged.

The hypothesis that Clottey had too much respect for the power of Pacquiao has many loopholes. Although Pacquiao convincingly outboxed the Ghanian it was apparent that the Filipino champion didn’t do much damage to Clottey, due in part to the African’s tight defense. Pacquiao did land several beautiful body punches but they didn’t seem to bulge Clottey.

Post fight interviews showed that Pacquiao had a swelling below his right eye while Clottey’s face was clean. Again we can attribute this to his very tight defense. In occasional moments when Clottey hit Pacquiao, he did push him back. Obviously this is due to Clottey’s size advantage over the smaller Filipino champion. Considering this fact, we are left thinking what would have happened if he fought back with all he got, just like what he did when he faced and lost closely to Miguel Cotto.

What if Clottey fought fiercely and got an upset over Pacquiao? Definitely there won’t be a Pacquiao-Mayweather, the biggest mega buck fight everybody is expecting.

From a martial artist’s point of view, I would say going up to welterweight has diminished the relative value of Pacquiao’s natural power when he boxed with bigger guys. Pacquiao had already fought two boxers at welterweight - Oscar de la Hoya and Joshua Clottey - and he beat both of them, but notice that he didn’t get a knockout. We can safely assume that the big boys can absorb Pacquiao’s power shots better than the boxers below their weight division.

This variable of size in a higher division also becomes apparent when you consider that Clottey managed to make Pacquiao’s right eye swell inspite of being passive. Clottey in simply too big.

Going through boxing history, we can remember that Floyd Mayweather Jr. just laughed at the punches of the much smaller but game Juan Manuel Márquez or the much bigger and taller then world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis of Great Britain nullifying the power of the smaller knockout artist David Tua of New Zealand.

In Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the smaller Royce Gracie of Brazil dominated bigger opponents during the first two editions of the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) but could not continue after fighting and defeating the bigger Kimo Leopoldo in UFC III. In his next outing Gracie managed to submit yet another bigger opponent, wrestler Daniel Severn, but only after more than 15 minutes.

Truth be said here. Although there is truth in the martial proverb that technique can make the difference, it is not the only variable. Size does matter, especially in a sport setting where there are rules and fair play. All other things being equal, the small good man is always fighting at a disadvantage against the bigger man. This is the reason why there are weight divisions in combat sports like Boxing, Wrestling, Kickboxing, Judo, Karate, etc. David did defeat Goliath but with the use of a long range weapon.

After the fight, Pacquiao’s mother, Aling Dionisia, was interviewed over at Aksyon Radio. She expressed her wish for his son to retire after this fight because he had already received enough blessings from the Lord and she can no logner ask for more. As a mother it is understandable that Aling Dionisia is looking after the safety of her son. She knows that as Manny goes higher, the climb becomes harder.

As a nation, we just hope and pray that Manny will be guided by God to make the right deicision as to the next step in his career.

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