When the megafight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.came apart over a drug-testing flap in January, the tepid reaction toPacquiao-Clottey was predictable. But just because Saturday's showdown feels like a consolation prize doesn't mean it's not an attractive matchup on its own merit.
The 31-year-old Pacquiao, a global superstar and one of the world's100 most influential peopleaccording toTimemagazine, has already cemented a place in fistic lore with an unprecedented seven world championships in seven weight classes from 112 to 147 pounds. The prevailing view is Saturday's fight is a mere stepping-stone to a pound-for-pound showdown with Mayweather later in 2010.
Clottey, 32, is a talented if not transcendent boxer-puncher. Best known for a series of unlucky outcomes against Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Carlos Baldomir, Clottey's lone signature victory came against a faded Diego Corrales in 2007. He's never been stopped in 38 fights and each of his three losses came against world champions. Hiscontroversial split-decision loss to Cotto seemed to solidify his reputation as a high-risk/low-reward opponent not worth the trouble for anyone hoping for an easy night.
As one of the less glamorous names in boxing's prestige division, the Ghanian has become an easy opponent to dodge. So it came as a surprise when Team Pacquiao chose Clottey as a replacement for Pretty Boy Floyd. "We want to fight the best guys out there because Manny likes challenges and this guy will challenge us."Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's longtime trainer, told SI.com in January. "Losing the Mayweather fight, we wanted to give the fans something they'd want to see."Author: Bryan Armen Graham
3/10/10, Arlington,Texas -- Surrounded by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, seven-time world champion and "Fighter of the Decade" Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao (L) and challenger Joshua Clottey(R) pose during the final press conference Wednesday for their upcoming World Welterweight championship on Saturday, March 13 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on HBO Pay-Per-View. -- Photo Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank.