Sunday, February 28, 2010

Opinion: Pacquiao - Clottey

If you don’t already know who Manny Pacquiao is – then you probably don’t watch any boxing, or sport.

Won titles in seven divisions?

Generally accepted best fighter on the planet??

Hellava karaoke singer???

Anywho...after negotiations between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather broke down, Pacquaio found a willing opponent in former titlist Joshua Clottey. The fight, scheduled for March 13, would see the first bout in the brand spaking new $2 billion dollar Cowboys stadium. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was aggressive in trying to get a major fight there, and after the collapse of a proposed bout between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Clottey was bought in and a match was made. At the time of writing, “The Event” was about sold out.

The last time we saw both of these fighters, it was in bouts against Miguel Cotto. Clottey lost a close split decision whilst Pacquiao obliterated him over twelve rounds. It is nice to see this bout happening at the welterweight limit of 147. As previously stated, if you want to compete in a division then you should do it at the weight limit (and be subjected to tests by the ruling commission, and not anybody else).

MANNY PACQUIAO (50-3-2, 38 KOs)

We all know how Pacquiao comes – fast. With straight shots aimed at relieving you of your senses. From all angles. Coupled with this is that Pacquiao can throw those things all night and, although both hands carry significant power, his left (from a southpaw stance) will straight stretch you out.

Pacquiao has also been walking through punches of late, he has great head movement and footwork but even the stuff that lands is barely causing him to miss a beat. It is almost to the point that he doesn’t even respect his opponent’s ability. His only stoppage loss came when he was severely drained at 112 pounds, he is now 147.

Despite being an undersized welter, Pacquiao will come and get you. This is rare intangible quality. That fighting spirit. No matter how big the opponent, you know for damn sure that Pacquiao is coming forward.

Trainer Freddie Roach has also worked wonders with Pacquiao, training him and providing strategy for his biggest wins to date. Roach is just on at the moment and once he declares that he has found a way to beat a guy it happens.

After being knocked down three times on the opening round, Juan Manual Marquez counterpunched Pacquiao silly in their first outing and was unlucky to come away with a draw. Clottey is also a defensive fighter who likes to counterpunch.

Once again, the question must be asked how Pacquiao is going to handle someone of Clottey’s size, although Clottey’s power doesn’t really pose much of a problem, if he can rough Pacquiao up and lean on him, he just may be able to wear him down.

Pacquiao also hasn’t been seriously tested whilst on the back foot at the heavier weights. If Clottey can force him backwards then keep using his strength and momentum then we may need to see something different from Pacquiao.


Clottey’s main strength is his durabilty, although taken off his feet early against Cotto, he has never been stopped. His defence is also very good and he keeps his hands high when taking fire. He did this very well against Cotto and, by the second half of the fight, was able to come forward after Cotto started to tire.

The “Grand Master” is a good defensive counter puncher who throws a great uppercut when in close. He may just get a chance to use this on the smaller Pacquiao as he will undoubtedly have to get inside.

Clottey is a big welterweight, Pacquiao will never have faced someone naturally that big. We are talking about a guy who could jump up to 154 no problem here so he should have an advantage in strength (Note: strength does NOT always equal punching power).

He has also faced good opposition in the form of Margarito, Diego Corrales, Zab Judah (whom he beat for an IBF strap) and Cotto. Anyone who ends the fight on their feet against Margarito is obviously doing something right.

It must be noted that Clottey’s biggest wins (against Judah and Corrales) aren’t what they seem. Although fantastically skilled, Judah wasted his gifts and Clottey beat Corrales at 147 – 17 pounds over Corrales prime fight weight. And, although he lost a split decision to Cotto, Cotto could have easily had the fight stopped on the cut caused by a headbutt and sent to the judges scorecard A LOT earlier. Remember, Clottey won most of the later rounds when Cotto looked like something out of a movie Rob Zombie directed.

Although defensively good, he only really protects his head and he isn’t an active defender preferring to sit there and absorb. You just can’t do that with a guy with the speed, power and precision of Pacquiao. He WILL find the gap between those gloves.

Clottey does not have the hand speed nor power to seriously worry Pacquiao. I mean, WHO has he stopped of note? Although punches opened the cut on Judah, he couldn’t do what Kostya Tszyu did to him . Even with a massive size advantage, he couldn’t stop Corrales (although he did knock him down three times).

Clottey’s heart, is also suspect. At best. Against Cotto he feined injury and flailed around when there was no need for it. If you wanna be a dramatic pussy – play soccer. He also had plenty of opportunities to put this fight in the bag when Cotto was tiring but couldn’t, nay wouldn’t, seize the opportunity. All it would have taken was activity from Clottey. And he didn’t do it.

Do I think Clottey can wear Pacquiao down? No. The only way Pacquiao will wear down will be from consistently touching Clottey’s chin. Which he will do, from bell to bell without letting up. This fight will be hard from the get go, but Clottey’s resolve can and will be broken. Clottey simply does not have the tools to concern Pacquiao, other than his size and durability.

Pacquiao late stoppage.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ike Ibeabuchi

The heavyweight division. No other division in boxing incites so much awe – or ire. There was a time when being the heavyweight champion of the world was the absolute pinnacle of sporting success, and many of the best athletes on the planet strived to be so. If you got there, you were the king of the world.

By the late 1990s, professionalism in sports such as American football, basketball and rugby now meant that larger athletes could make comparatively the same amount of money with comparatively less brain damage. Even the 1990s had names such as Lewis, Holyfield, Tyson and Bowe to support a division that was crumbling from the bottom. Following Lewis’ retirement in 2003, many have contended to take his place on the throne. However none have done so in either an emphatic or entertaining manner.

“The President” Ike Ibeabuchi could well have been that savour.

A well muscled 240 pound boxer-puncher with a high output, Ibeabuchi was poised to inherit the crown, or at least seriously challenge for it. By mid-1999 Ibeabuchi had amassed an impressive 20-0 record with 15 of those wins ending early. However, it was never to be as mental and legal issues were to sabotage his successes. He had been diagnosed with bipolar and schizoaffective disorders but refused to take the voluntary medication as it would damage his motor skills therefore affecting his boxing career.

In 1997, The Nigerian national was 16-0 and was pitched against the much heralded David Tua (then 27-0), one of the most powerful heavyweights ever, in a 12 round contest. The outcome was nothing short of spectacular as both threw bombs, with neither taking a backward step, all night setting a heavyweight record with 1,730 punches thrown. Ibeabuchi also set the individual record (now broken) by throwing 975 punches and averaging 81 per round. The heavyweight average is around 50. Incredible. The President would come away with a close-but-unanimous decision and stamped himself as the cream of the contenders.

Soon after the Tua bout Ibeabuchi’s life would begin to fray. Just two months later, Ibeabuchi was arrested after kidnapping the son of his ex-girlfriend and injuring him by driving into a freeway overpass at 65 miles per hour. He would serve three months. Ibeabuchi also violated terms of his parole by leaving the state of Texas to seek psychiatric counseling in Arizona. The official excuse from the Ibeabuchi camp was that he was suffering from possible manic depression because of the contrast between his successful professional life and gloomy personal life.

In July of 1998 he stopped journeyman Tim Ray in the opening stanza. Then in September he went on to stop Everton Davis in 9. The President would find himself in more trouble in December of that year as he was arrested after a 23 year old “entertainer” that had been called to his hotel room accused him of sexually assaulting her. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence but a pattern of behavior was emerging.

March of 1999 saw Ibeabuchi come up against another contender in the form of a slick Chris Byrd who sported a 26-0 record. Byrd was coming off the back of reputable wins over Ross Puritty, Elieser Castillo and Jimmy Thunder and had the speed and movement to give anyone a long night. Ibeabuchi’s mental problems would again arise as he refused to board the plane on the way to the fight as he believed that there were “demons” on it.

The bout against Byrd was remarkably one sided as The President came out winging hooks to the head which had no problems finding the normally elusive Byrd. In the fifth, Ibeabuchi absolutely powned Byrd with a dynamite left hook that sent him straight to the canvas. Byrd made it back to his feet but looked infantile in dribbling and remaining off balance and was sent back to the deck with the next punch. Byrd once again rose, but was trapped against the ropes and taking fire as the referee waived it off. Chris Byrd would later go on to become a two-time heavyweight titlist and his decimation made Ibeabuchi the divisions hottest prospect. All he needed to do was keep his cool, and a title shot would come knocking. Actions that sound simple enough but, unfortunately for the boxing , this would be the last we saw of Ibeabuchi

In June of that year he attempted to board an overbooked plan and it took two officers and a couple of blasts of pepper spray to subdue him. He then turned down $700K to deck fringe contender Jeremy Williams and $1million for a showdown with the undefeated but glass chinned Michael Grant.

July 22 marked the tipping point as Ibeabuchi was arrested for once again sexually assaulting an “entertainer” that was called to his hotel room. When officers arrived, Ibeabuchi locked himself in the bathroom and pepper gas had to be sprayed under the door before he would surrender. In 2001 he pleaded guilty to battery with intent to commit a crime and attempted sexual assault. He was sentenced to 2 to 10 years on the first charge (paroled in 2001) and 3 to 20 years on the second charge. He has been denied parole three times and is next eligible in May 2012.

Like most people who have unfulfilled potential in their life, you can’t help but speculate on “what could have happened”. Ibeabuchi may have been granted a shot against Lewis and been smartly outboxed like most of his challengers. All we know was that, Ibeabuchi had a granite chin, power in both hands and was proactive in letting them go. Just two out of those three qualities can be enough to make you a champion.