DALLAS, March 11 – Manny Pacquiao, who is making his first defence of his WBO title, says he is confident he can maintain his speed and power as he moves up in class to fight bigger and stronger opponents.
This will be the second consecutive true welterweight fight for the Filipino superstar who goes into Saturday’s bout as the heavy favourite despite giving away a height and an eight centimetre (three inch) reach advantage to Ghana’s Joshua Clottey.
Speaking at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday at the new 1.2 billion dollar Cowboys Stadium, Pacquiao insists he is not taking Clottey lightly.
"Clottey is a good fighter," said Pacquiao, who has won 11 consecutive fights. "He is so strong and he is bigger and taller than me.
"I don’t want to underestimate this opponent. I am going to do my best and give it a shot."
A crowd of 45,000 is expected for Saturday’s fight which will showcase Pacquiao’s blazing hand speed and quick footwork against Clottey’s strength and ring savvy. It is the first time that a boxing card has been held in the new home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
Pacquiao showed up Wednesday with a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader on each arm before taking the podium to pose for pictures with Clottey.
There was none of the trash talking that is usually associated with fights of this magnitude as both boxers expressed a liking for each other.
"I have trained hard for this fight," said Pacquiao, who captured the welterweight title with a 12-round TKO of Miguel Cotto in November. "I will try my best to put on a good show. I want people to be satisfied with my performance on Saturday."
The 32-year-old Clottey is a native of Ghana. He has 35 victories and just three losses, including a controversial disqualification against Carlos Baldomir in 1999 and a close decision against Antonio Margarito four years ago.
Pacquiao, 50-3-2 with 38 knockouts, is defending his welterweight title on the same date he was expected to face unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather before negotiations broke off over a drug-testing dispute.
Many see Clottey as a fill-in for Mayweather but Clottey insists that he is more than just cannon fodder for Pacquiao.
"I have done everything to train for this fight," Clottey said. "He (Pacquiao) is the best fighter in the world, but I want to see what he can do."
Pacquiao has looked unstoppable in his last three fights and his trainer Freddie Roach predicted Saturday’s main event won’t go the distance.
"We can stop him in the late rounds," Roach said. "I didn’t say a knockout but we can stop him with an accumulation of punches. He (Clottey) has never seen a guy like Manny Pacquiao before and I don’t think he will be able to handle it."
Roach said this fight has its own unique characteristics because they are fighting in a gridiron stadium as opposed to the smaller casino venues in Las Vegas that they are accustomed too.
"This will be the biggest crowd we have fought in front of," Roach said. "We have a good game plan. Manny Pacquiao is at the top of his game right now.
"If he sees something in there and wants to test something that is fine. We will take him (Clottey) to the ropes sometimes. We have worked on that because he is a big strong guy.
"We know his characteristics very well."
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he is tickled pink to have a boxer with the stature of Pacquiao headline the first fight card at Cowboys Stadium.
"This is the first fight ever in this stadium and to have an individual like Manny Pacquiao fighting here is everything I had hoped would be a part of this stadium," Jones said.