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WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao defends his crown against Ghanaian roughhouser Joshua Clottey in a 12-round bout at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this morning (Manila time) and the heavy betting is on whether the fight will go the distance or not.

Here are the 25 factors that may decide the outcome of the bout:

O Size. Clottey began campaigning as a welterweight in 1997 when Pacquiao was still a flyweight. In his last two bouts, Clottey tipped the scales at 147----the welterweight limit. Pacquiao was at his heaviest for Miguel Cotto last year and that only up to 144. Clottey will try to use his bulk to overpower Pacquiao in the trenches. Edge: Clottey.

O Hand-speed. Pacquiao throws from every conceivable angle, going backwards, sideways or forward. Clottey has respectable speed in unleashing counter combinations but he’s not nearly as fast as the Filipino icon. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Stamina. Nobody works harder than Pacquiao in the gym. Against Cotto, Pacquiao looked like he could go another five rounds when referee Kenny Bayless stopped it in the 12th. Clottey, in contrast, has a tendency to fade in the late going----as shown in his own tussle with Cotto last June. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Foot-speed. Clottey is basically a stand-up counterpuncher who’d rather wait than initiate. He likes to stalk his opponents, moving forward, inching in slowly to find the opening for his counters. Pacquiao is extremely mobile, using open space in the middle of the ring to run circles around his foes. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Durability. Clottey has never been knocked out and that’s a testament to his staying power. It’s not easy sending Clottey down to the canvas. He’s made of stern stuff. Besides, there may be less wear and tear in his body. Clottey has figured in only three fights the last two years compared to Pacquiao who was busier with five outings. Edge: Clottey.

O Quality of opposition. Clottey hasn’t faced anyone quite like Pacquiao. Their common opponent is Cotto whom Pacquiao dominated and Clottey lost to on a split decision. Pacquiao has engaged a slew of future Hall of Famers like Oscar de la Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton and Erik Morales. Clottey’s list of victims isn’t as celebrated. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Activity. Pacquiao has kept himself busy in the ring, logging two fights last year and three in 2008. He’s 7-0 in the last three years. Clottey saw action only once last year, losing to Cotto, and twice the year before. If there is ring rust in Clottey’s armor, he will likely start slowly and accelerate his pace as the fight unfolds. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Experience. Pacquiao and Clottey turned pro in the same year, 1995, but the Filipino has reported for 55 bouts and the Ghanaian, only 39. Pacquiao is 12-2-1 in world championship fights compared to Clottey’s 1-3. Clottey hasn’t been exposed as much to high-profile bouts. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Unpredictability. Because Clottey often resorts to foul tactics, he’s unpredictable. A fighter with bad intentions is always dangerous. Against previously unbeaten Shamone Alvarez, Clottey got into his opponent’s head and distracted him to the point of losing focus. Pacquiao had difficulty dealing with dirty fighters Nedal Hussein and Agapito Sanchez. Edge: Clottey.

O Resiliency. The ability to make adjustments during a bout is a mark of an intelligent fighter. Pacquiao proved how smart he is when he baited Cotto to fight from close range to take away his power left jab. Time and time again, Pacquiao has surprised the experts by changing tactics to fluster his opponents. In 1998, Pacquiao was badly behind on points when he shifted his attack downstairs and found Chatchai Sasakul’s weak spot. After battering Chatchai’s midsection, Pacquiao saw an opening for his left hook to the jaw and scored a come-from-behind knockout. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Hunger. Pacquiao is Clottey’s ticket to fame and fortune. The Ghanaian obviously wants to be where Pacquiao is----on top of the world. He has everything to gain and nothing to lose. The pressure is more on Pacquiao to win. Edge: Clottey.

O Knockout power. Clottey has scored just a single stoppage in his last 11 outings and his knockout rate is only 57.1 percent compared to Pacquiao’s 76 percent. Clottey relies on arm strength and doesn’t put body weight behind his shots----which probably explains his low knockout rate. In contrast, Pacquiao is a devastating puncher. It took only one shot to flatten Hatton. The mystery is whether Pacquiao’s power as a natural lightwelterweight will be as potent against a natural welterweight. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Corner. Freddie Roach is no stranger to Clottey’s trainer Lenny de Jesus. They worked together in Pacquiao’s corner for five fights. De Jesus was thrust into a chief second’s role by default and is more a cutman by profession. Roach will be assisted by Buboy Fernandez and conditioning coach Alex Ariza. De Jesus’ backups are nondescript. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Agility. Pacquiao is a master at slipping punches, moving his head, bending his body and making his opponents miss badly. That’s all because of his agility. He’s a fighter in constant motion and he won’t get tired. Pacquiao will move away from Clottey’s stronger side----the left----by sidestepping to the right but he must be conscious of coming smack into the Ghanaian’s right hand. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Arsenal. Clottey is heavier-handed because he is physically bigger. His deadliest weapons are a left uppercut, left hook and a right uppercut usually thrown like a bolo punch. Clottey also throws an occasional left jab. Pacquiao has a lot more weapons. Because of his southpaw style, Pacquiao will find it easy to land his overhand right or right cross. Pacquiao will use his left hook to the body to soften up Clottey. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Defense. Clottey likes to raise both arms in what is described as a turtle-shell defense. When he covers up, Clottey doesn’t punch and his idea is to tire out his opponent. Pacquiao will move side-to-side to break down Clottey’s defense and his bombardment to the body will be vicious. Clottey, however, has the body build to hang tough. Edge: Clottey.

O Chin. Clottey’s chin hasn’t really been tested by a banger. His solid defense is his protector. If Pacquiao hits him squarely on the chin, it’s not known how Clottey will react. For the moment, the record shows that Clottey’s chin isn’t made of china. Edge: Clottey.

O Heart. When it comes to digging deep into one’s reservoir of energy, Pacquiao has no equal. That’s because he fights with a lot of heart. It’s not just for himself that he fights----it’s for the entire Filipino nation. Pacquiao is braver than brave. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Style. Clottey was unperturbed in dismantling Alvarez and Zab Judah, both southpaws. He won’t be bothered by Pacquiao fighting left-handed. Pacquiao couldn’t care less whether he battles a southpaw or an orthodox fighter. He knows how to handle himself in the ring. His experience will show him the way. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Susceptibility to cuts. Clottey isn’t a bleeder. He bangs heads and never comes out of a collision on the short end. Pacquiao has suffered an assortment of cuts in his long career. After the Cotto fight, he was stitched up. Clottey is a vampire in the ring and extracts blood from his opponents. Edge: Clottey.

O Work rate. Pacquiao is a busybody and doesn’t stop throwing. Clottey picks his punches, countering when there is an opening. The Ghanaian isn’t a volume puncher. If Pacquiao displays his blinding hand and foot-speed, Clottey will be frustrated into a watching and waiting mode. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Combinations. Pacquiao isn’t a one-hit wonder. He’ll throw jabs, hooks, crosses and straights and move out of range before Clottey is able to unleash a counter. Pacquiao is a rhythm fighter. His timing is precise. Clottey won’t know what’s coming when Pacquiao starts to turn the heat on. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Body banger. Both Clottey and Pacquiao will look to attack the body. Clottey will try to slow down Pacquiao by leaning on him, throwing shots to the side of the body from up close and bringing him to the ropes or corners. Because Pacquiao is smaller, he may feel Clottey’s body shot more than the Ghanaian will feel his. Edge: Clottey.

O Reflexes. Pacquiao has cat-quick reflexes and it shows in the way he deflects punches, parries blows and moves his head to avoid a direct hit. Clottey isn’t as reactive. Edge: Pacquiao.

O Mental toughness. There’s no doubt Pacquiao is in a frame of mind that belies his inner strength. His focus is unflappable. Whatever he sets his mind to do in the ring, he executes with deadly precision. Clottey isn’t as mentally in control as Pacquiao who knows what it’s like to fight and win under pressure. Edge: Pacquiao.

Out of 25 factors, Pacquiao has the edge in 17.

My prediction is Pacquiao will frustrate Clottey from the onset with his speed, skills and agility. In desperation, Clottey will resort to foul tactics, trying to bully Pacquiao and using his strength to push him into the ropes or the corners. Referee Rafael Ramos will disqualify Clottey for butting, holding, hitting below the belt and whatever else in the seventh round and Pacquiao will retain his WBO welterweight title without much of a sweat.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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