If there was any doubt that Manny Pacquiao was the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, it should have been erased Saturday night. In front of 50,994 fans at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Pacquiao fought around, over and through the defense of the bigger Joshua Clottey to earn his 12th straight victory.
Ringside scorers gave Pacquiao a 120-108, 119-109, 119-109 unanimous victory. I watched the fight and I have no idea what the two judges who awarded Clottey rounds were watching. I never got the sense that Clottey was in the fight, not even for a moment. Clottey’s strategy was clearly to cover up, using his incredibly stout defense, and hope Pacquiao got tired and stopped throwing punches. To put that in a military context, that would be like sending wave after wave of troops on a frontal assault in the hopes that the enemy runs out of bullets.
Pacquiao didn’t run out of bullets.
The 31-year-old Filipino finished the night throwing 1,231 punches – more than 100 per round. Despite official statistics that said he only landed 246, in truth he landed far more blows than that. For a punch to could as “landed” it must not be blocked at all. Clottey’s defensive technique is excellent, which means the majority of Pacquiao’s punches were at the least somewhat deflected. That doesn’t mean they didn’t do damage. In fact, Pacquiao’s relentless assault rarely saw any punch that missed Clottey completely. Clottey’s wrists and fists took a brutal beating, as did his body in yet another example of how Pacquiao can adapt and alter his gameplan to suit his competition.
Never before had we seen Pacman unleash a withering body attack on an opponent. While Clottey’s face didn’t show the type of wear Pacquiao usually racks up on his opponents, his internal organs, legs and ribs have to be killing him today. As he faced an opponent covering his face and chest, Pacquiao turned his attention to Clottey’s abdomen and didn’t let up all night. (FYI: links in previous post are visual evidence of Pacquiao’s body attack)
What Pacquiao did was utterly dominate a very game (despite not being a big name guy) fighter. Clottey was visibly the bigger man and his defensive style reminds many of Winky Wright in his heyday. Clottey had fought big names to virtual stalemates (Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto) and presented new challenges that Pacquiao brushed aside with little trouble at all.
Pacquiao is currently on an incredible run and he is head and shoulders above anyone else in the sport. It’s now on the shoulders of Floyd Mayweather to get past Shane Mosley and just sign the dang deal for the biggest fight since Ali-Frazier I.
Mayweather’s laughable deflection about wanted Olympic-style drug testing was just that, something to distract the public from the real issue: Mayweather has no reason to fight Pacquiao other than pride and challenging himself. If Floyd retires undefeated he can always claim he was the best fighter of his generation, even though Pacquiao’s track record clearly gives him the edge.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has one of the most rigorous drug testing programs in all of sports, Mayweather’s concern was not that Pacquiao was using performance-enhancing drugs, it was that he might finally have to face someone better than him. Notice that the one two people claiming Pacquiao was using PEDs are Floyd and his dad, Floyd Sr. (Kermit Cintron also claimed he thought Manny was on steroids as well, but no one takes anything Mr. Cintron says seriously). Then, when Pacquiao acquiesced to many of Mayweather’s demands and moved to meet them in the middle, Floyd backed out anyway. Yet more proof that Mayweather never wanted the fight in the first place.
Here’s the bottom line, right now Pacquiao is easily a top 10 fighter of all-time; Mayweather is somewhere in the top 30. The thing Mayweather lacks is what Pacquiao has in spades: wins over big time opponents. If Floyd really wants to prove himself, he’ll drop the crap about testing and take the negotiated deal that was on the table.
By beating Pacquiao Mayweather could put himself inside that top 10 group. But if Pacquiao were to knock off Floyd, he would automatically vault into the top three. Henry Armstrong and Sugar Ray Robinson would be the only two fighters in his class.
That type of legacy and a chance to prove himself as the best fighter on the planet seem to be enough for Pacquiao to agree to the fight (the gigantic payday helps too), boxing fans can only hope Floyd feels the same way.