When I woke up this morning, last night's pay-per-view was still, of course, on my mind. The undercard, as usual, was pretty dreadful (more on that sometime later this week, maybe later today). The main event, as usual, was lackluster (same "more on that").
And Joshua Clottey is who we thought he was. And I let this fight off the hook.
In my preview for the bout, my respect for Clottey as a fighter kind of guilt-tripped me into mealy-mouthing a little bit. Yes, Clottey's a good fighter, I was trying to say. But he's also no match for Manny Pacquiao. This fight, I wanted to say without being harsh, would be damned easy for Pacquiao.
Because Joshua Clottey wasn't good enough for Manny Pacquiao. He was never going to win this fight, save for Pacquiao uncharacteristically taking him lightly.
The laughable 30-second TV promo for the pay-per-view called Clottey a "devastating brawler." That was rich. Clottey doesn't have half the power a lot of people seem to think he does. He's about as devastating as any wall can be. For 12 rounds last night, he stood motionless, allowing Pacquiao to unleash over 1,200 punches, landing 20% of them.
It wasn't Pacquiao's most scintillating performance. It wasn't even his most dominant, though it was a virtual shutout for a fact. Pacquiao was more dominant against Cotto, Hatton, de la Hoya, Morales in their third fight, David Diaz, and twice against Marco Antonio Barrera. He was also more entertaining. He also had opponents who seemed to at least consider fighting back.
Clottey, it was noted, gave tough fights to Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, and he beat Zab Judah. Beating Judah is nothing too amazing anymore. He gave the Cotto fight away by doing in too many short bursts what he did all of last night.
Who among those three men (Clottey's best opponents coming in) could really hold a candle to what Pacquiao brings to the table? By the time Clottey fought him, Judah had gained the reputation of a six-round fighter. Margarito, devastating as he was at his best, is a slow, plodding guy. Cotto was damaged goods in the minds of many.
I'm not trying to say that Joshua Clottey is not a good fighter. He is. He remains one of the six best fighters in the welterweight division, a completely credible boxer and a tough out for most. But against Manny Pacquiao, he was in a fight he really couldn't win. He fought like it, too.
Joshua Clottey didn't lose credibility last night, necessarily, but made it clear that he's not a great fighter. And he's never going to be a better fighter than he is now. Clottey is rugged, durable, good defensively, and limited. We usually save "limited" for guys like John Duddy, but it applies to Clottey, too. Good as he is, he's only so good. And Manny Pacquiao made him look bad.