While the thought of a Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight may linger in some boxing aficionados minds Saturday night, they are getting the next best thing in the form of Joshua Clottey. Meanwhile, "Money" is scheduled to tangle with Shane Mosley, and should Pacquiao win, a fight with the winner promises to be a financial and fistic bonanza.
Before that can happen, Pacquiao, a better than 5-1 favorite (it opened at 4-1) must beat Clottey, a recent IBF titleholder who seeks to bounce back from a split decision loss to Miguel Cotto. Who will win? The CompuBox numbers could provide an answer:
Clottey may be the most demanding opponent in terms of sheer strength Pacquiao has faced.
The Cotto Equation: Interestingly, Cotto was the most recent opponent for both as Clottey dropped a controversial nod while Pacquiao scored a 12th round TKO. Just because Pacquiao beat Cotto and Cotto beat Clottey, that doesn't necessarily mean that Pacquiao is a lock to beat Clottey. The numbers, however, suggest just that.
Pacquiao's Cotto numbers were overwhelming - 336-172 (total connects) and 276-93 (power connects). Following four competitive rounds Pacquiao shifted into high gear. In the last five completed rounds Pacquiao out-landed Cotto 192-78 (total) and 160-28 (power). During that same span Pacquiao's power numbers - 53 power shots per round and 26.6 connects - eroded Cotto's willingness to fire in kind as his output dipped to 18 and 5.3 per round.
Despite throwing 101 fewer punches (622-723), he out-landed Cotto 222-179. Clottey threw threw 110 fewer jabs (209-319) but was out-landed by one (54-55). Clottey made hay in power punches as he unleashed nine more (413-404) and landed 44 more (168-124).
After opening a horrific gash over Cotto's eye, Clottey assumed command in rounds seven through 10 with leads of 82-45 (total connects) and 66-30 (power connects) despite out-throwing Cotto by six (223-217). A great fighter, however, finishes off vulnerable targets and Clottey fell short because he allowed Cotto to rise in the "championship rounds." Cotto overcame his previous deficits by out-throwing Clottey 101-93 while closing to within 38-36 in overall connects and 35-22 in landed power shots. Just as he had in previous crises, Cotto relied on his jab and used his 14-3 advantage to pull out the victory.
This temperament contrast in crucial situations may be pivotal. When Pacquiao had Cotto dead to rights he finished the job while the same could not be said of Clottey, who has never thrown more than 62 punches in any round in the nine fights of his tracked by Compubox. At age 32, can the "Grand Master" change his demeanor and checkmate his greatest opponent to date?
Styles - and Circumstances - Make Fights: Pacquiao's late-career transformation was best shown against Oscar de la Hoya and Ricky Hatton. Pacquiao was golden against "The Golden Boy" as he out-scored him 224-83 (total connects) and 195-51 (power connects). Against Hatton, Pacquiao was prolific and precise as he out-landed him 73-18 (total) and 65-16 (power) while posting connect percentages of 57.5 and 61.9 respectively. Better yet, Pacquiao ended matters with one devastating left cross.
Pacquiao's critics will point to De La Hoya's age (35) and emaciated state and to Hatton being overrated and confused by Floyd Mayweather Sr.'s teachings. In Clottey, Pacquiao will face someone who has never been knocked out and has only lost to the best.
How does Clottey do against slick southpaws? Against Zab Judah, Clottey posted a 122-117 total connect edge despite throwing 26 fewer (393-419). Judah, respectful of Clottey's strength, used a jab-heavy offense (66 percent of his blows) to set up efficient power punching (72 of 139, 52 percent). Pacquiao, never known for his jab (19.6 percent in his last three fights) will likely rely on power shots.
Pacquiao will need to apply science to his pressure, for Clottey's bout with Jose Luis Cruz shows that an unvarnished punch-out is unwise. Clottey enjoyed advantages of 111-64 overall and 102-57 in power shots while landing at a 47 percent and 55 percent rate respectively. Clottey's shell limited Cruz to 26 percent overall, 11 percent in jabs and 31 percent in power shots.
Prediction: Clottey may be the most demanding opponent in terms of sheer strength Pacquiao has faced. Clottey can play some "D" too, as the nine opponents tracked by CompuBox landed just 30% of their power shots (9% less than the welterweight avg). That being said, Pacquiao has the tools necessary to riddle the Ghanian's armor with holes. Clottey stood up to Margarito's CompuBox record 1,675-punch attack but was floored by Cotto. Pacquiao wants a spectacular preamble for his next fight, whether it's against Mayweather or Mosley. He'll get it, but not by knockout. Pacquiao by decision.
Posted 12:00 AM | Mar 11, 2010
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