20/20 Hindsight: Clottey Had the Right Idea But Was the Wrong Fighter to Beat Pacquiao, Plus More Thoughts on Saturday

Can a boxer lay out the right game plan to beat a top-ranked opponent even while suffering a lopsided loss?

That's not a rhetorical question after what just went down in front of nearly 51,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday night. Joshua Clottey didn't even manage to win three total rounds on the judges' scorecards while losing to Manny Pacquiao, and yet I couldn't help but think he did the right thing, given the tools at his disposal.

Ridiculous, you say? Bear with me here a moment.

Clottey obviously wasn't going to beat Manny at his own game. You simply don't beat Pacquiao to the punch, and the Grand Master's strengths are his tight defensive shell and accurate counterpunching.

So he stayed covered up and took his shots when and where he could. Clottey's real problem is that he doesn't have strong single-shot power, which is what you'd need to successfully pull off that strategy. Add in the fact that Manny really has a pretty decent chin and Clottey basically had no chance to win.

He certainly could have taken more chances and thrown caution to the wind a bit more, especially in the later rounds when it was clear there was no way he could win on the cards. But anyone who thinks he could have won the fight simply by throwing more punches is fooling himself.

The only time Manny hit Josh flush was when Clottey was throwing his own shots. Had he gone out of the guard more, there's a decent chance he may not have made it to the final bell.

Still, I think the combination of a tight guard (which did take Pac Man about four rounds to figure out) and legitimate power exercised at the right times could be the formula to beating Pacquiao. Looking at his potential opponents, though, I'm not sure there's someone out there with the correct combination of attributes to carry it out.

Floyd Mayweather has the correct defense/countering tools, though his defense is focused on slipping and avoiding punches more than picking them off. If he fights and beats Manny, I think it will be because his physical gifts are even more impressive than Pacquiao's own.

Shane Mosley would be the boxer to most likely fight fire with fire, trying to get off first at times and engage in more trading of punches. He's certainly knowledgeable on defense but not the type to make that a focus of his game plan.

In the end, I guess I think the criticism of Clottey's effort is a bit harsh. Some people are acting like he made a choice to lose, when honestly it seemed more like a choice between fighting his own fight and losing by decision or trying to be something he wasn't and getting knocked out.

Clottey had the right idea, but he wasn't the right man to take out the current version of Pacquiao.

More closing thoughts on "The Event":

* I'll add my voice to the chorus hoping that boxing will return to Cowboys Stadium. It just looked like a phenomenal atmosphere for a big fight, even though the view from some of the seats wasn't too sweet.

* Speaking of the cheap seats, Max Kellerman went out into the standing room section to demonstrate how hard it was to see from there. He also mentioned it was $50 for parking, which is flat out robbery. Yet as the Official Stepdad/Dad of the BoxingWatchers pointed out, it cost $85 combined for tickets and parking in standing room. That's still a lot cheaper than the worst seats at the MGM Grand for PPV cards.

* The undercard was rightfully panned. It didn't help that John Duddy has decided to forsake his action-first style or that Jose Luis Castillo was obviously there just to pick up a check. It's shameful, but the economic structure of boxing doesn't make it likely that undercards will improve any time soon, no matter how much lip service promoters pay to fixing them.

* Kellerman said during the broadcast that it would be a "crime against boxing" if Antonio Margarito is allowed to fight Pacquiao this fall as a Plan B for negotiations with Mayweather falling apart again. I agree with him in theory, because Margarito doesn't deserve the spotlight and the payday. But in practice I'm warming up to this idea because I'd just like to see Manny knock him around.

* Jim Lampley had his pompoms out big time during his soon-to-be-infamous "Bang! Bang!" call describing Pacquiao's non-stop punching. Thank goodness Emanuel Steward is there to balance things out, though I felt he almost went too far giving credit to Clottey for clean punching at times when it was clear the Grand Master was still losing rounds.

* It's easy for us to call for Clottey to go out on his shield from the safety of our own couches. But when other boxers are saying he should go for it, like Andre Berto was on Twitter during the fight, I take that a little more seriously.

* I'm not sure if Lenny De Jesus was the right trainer to get Clottey prepared for Pacquiao, but at least he gave Joshua the honest picture during the fight. De Jesus correctly told his fighter he was losing every round and that he would have to go for the KO at the end to have any chance of winning.

Posted by The Franchise

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