Manny Pacquiao's Saturday night win over Joshua Clottey has generated a lot of discussion, and not all of it has been very positive. Some of the criticisms have been downright harsh, and a lot of them are deserved.
So before we move on in the boxing world, let's take a final, sober look at the Pacquiao-Clottey card.
Manny Pacquiao comes out of the fight just fine. Despite the complaints that the fight was boring, Pacquiao's 1200-plus punches thrown are a testament to the fact that it wasn't boring because of him.
Joshua Clottey, on the other hand, could have damaged his reputation very badly. His arms-up, hyper-defensive performance was the first time that a lot of the people watching have ever seen him fight. Clottey has never been particularly exciting, and never a major star. He got himself on the biggest stage he could against Pacquiao, and he pretty much laid an egg out there.
It's not just that Clottey was "boring." His cover-up game was so drastic that it has led people to believe he was indifferent about whether or not he won, that he "didn't come to win," which is, when you break it down, essentially saying he all but threw the fight. If he wasn't trying to win, what kind of contest is that?
Please note I'm not accusing Clottey of actually throwing the fight. But that is pretty much how a lot of people see it. He wasn't there being a competitor. He was existing, doing all he could to not get knocked out, and cashing a paycheck.
Joshua Clottey is a very good fighter, but he'll need some serious career rehab to starting smelling rosy again for a big portion of the audience that paid to watch him on Saturday. He might well be able to land another big fight by the end of the year, but it'll be more coincidence than anything. He doesn't draw, doesn't have much of a fanbase, is a difficult fight for just about anyone, and now he's got some bad press.
There is talk of Clottey moving up to 154 pounds. Bob Arum mentioned a possible fight between Clottey and Yuri Foreman, should Foreman retain his title against Miguel Cotto in June. God help us all if that matchup becomes a reality, because I don't see a network that can afford it (HBO) paying for it.
If he stays at 147, though, he could easily get a title shot this year. If Andre Berto and promoter Lou DiBella wanted it, Clottey could be an opponent for the WBC titlist, should Berto get past Carlos Quintana on April 10. Of course, Berto and DiBella might see Clottey as too big a risk for too little gain.
And as badly as Clottey has suffered from "big risk, little gain" in the past, that might be worse than ever now.
In short: Manny's fine and trucks on. Clottey's reputation is badly bruised, but the limited options for a lot of people could keep him a player anyway.
The HBO crew spent a lot of time complaining about the undercard. Is it too much to ask that they just call the fights, especially when two of them (Duddy-Medina and Soto-Diaz) were perfectly watchable? Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman especially acted like they were being stabbed during the undercard. I understand their desire to point out the fact that the fights didn't have a ton of meaning, and that's not a bad thing that the voices behind the biggest boxing broadcaster in America are willing to speak up for something the fans say, too. But say it and then move on. The fighters deserve that much, at least.
Anyway, I'll take my own advice and shut up with the complaining and give some quick thoughts on these fights.
Humberto Soto definitely won, and his two knockdowns helped that, but he had some difficulty with David Diaz that makes his future at lightweight a bit more questionable. He's tall and lanky, and his power came with him. He can still punch, and he's a good fighter. He's definitely a top 10 guy in the division already. However, Diaz was able to effectively pressure Soto and push him around some simply because he's a more natural lightweight. That could be a real problem against a better fighter than David Diaz.
For instance, I can't see Humberto Soto beating Michael Katsidis right now. Not because Soto isn't, pound-for-pound, better than Katsidis, but because Katsidis is a burly guy who never backs off. I think he'd eventually wear Soto out. That's just a "styles make fights" thing. Of all the guys in the top ten, I think Soto would have the best shot against No. 1 and legit world champion Juan Manuel Marquez, actually. Marquez isn't really a lightweight either, he's aging, and he's always willing to stand in the pocket and take shots to give back. Marquez was able to beat Juan Diaz in a firefight, but Diaz can't punch. That same fight with Soto instead of Juan Diaz, and I think Marquez goes out on his shield. And it would be a marvelous battle, too.
Right now, it looks like Soto will face Anthony Peterson on the Foreman-Cotto undercard. That's an interesting enough matchup.
There's not much more to be said about Jose Luis Castillo than we already have. He's retired now. Alfonso Gomez may have earned himself another PPV undercard fight in the future with this win. He's been on the last two Pacquiao shows. He's affordable, nobody is going to be afraid to fight him, and he does come to fight. He's made a nice career for himself.
John Duddy was John Duddy. He's extremely limited, but he's also competent. I think he'll smash Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. if those two fight this summer, as has been the rumor, and that seems unwise to me from a business standpoint. If I'm Top Rank, I don't put Chavez in with Duddy. Chavez has never beaten anyone as good as Duddy, and we know Duddy can take a shot. Chavez couldn't dent freaking Troy Rowland. From a business standpoint, there's way more money in Chavez than in Duddy, too.
As for Michael Medina, who lost to Duddy on Saturday, he seems like a guy who could have a nice career as a professional opponent, and if he refines himself some (which can happen to young guys who get cast in the "opponent" role, simply because they're fighting good fighters all the time), he could be a late bloomer. I'm going to write a note on a Post-It to check back in on the "Murder Man" in five years.