Pacquiao-Clottey final presser
Story by Jeff Zimmerman
Photography by Robert Hughes
The final presser for Pacquiao vs. Clottey – The Event, at Cowboys Stadium this Saturday had everything and more, but that has come to be expected from this monumental promotion.
There was the #1 pound for pound fighter, Manny Pacquiao (50-3-2 38 KOs), his worthy opponent, Joshua Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs) with a similar storyline - whom, like Pacquiao, was raised in poverty. There was the 78-year-old and still-going-strong, Top Rank Chief Bob Arum and the Owner of America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, and, of course, his beloved Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Plus, we can’t talk about The Event without talking about the venue, which makes this fight and the fighters larger than life, literally. And believe it or not, boxing’s biggest rival, the UFC, is helping to promote the event and will have President Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta in attendance.
But what may have made this presser even more amazing, if that is possible, was the
respect and complimentary words everyone had for each other – from the main combatants to the promoters to even the trainers.
Jerry Jones, for one, was grateful to have this fight and opportunity to show off his gem to a worldwide audience. Jones gracefully stated, “I know what an opportunity with Pacquiao, I know what I learned, I know what Joshua Clottey is about. I know the challenge that is represented in this fight, not as well as many of you do but I do know and it’s a great honor that this fight is going to be held right below that digital board and when these fighters are punching and when these guy s are sweating and strategizing in the center of the ring, they’re going to be 72 feet right above the ring at that particular time just like what we do with our Cowboy players.”
Arum added, “We’ll have 45,000 people watching the fight the way it should be watched, in person, that’s the beauty of a facility like this.”
Mark Taffet of HBO was on hand to also praise the fight and point out the significance to their network:
“We’re thrilled with the response the media has shown for this fight and this great main event and for those of you visiting Cowboys Stadium for the first time, you know like I know that they do make everything bigger in Texas. We’ve done 160 pay-per-view fights in our history, HBO pay-per-view, and this is the very first pay-per-view we are doing from a stadium and it’s also the first fight, the first boxing match taking place at Cowboys Stadium. There are a lot of firsts, a lot of history – I am very, very proud to be a part of this event here with Jerry Jones and Bob Arum and Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey.
Francisco Valcarcel, WBO President presented Jerry Jones an award in recognition of having this fight at his new stadium and was excited for this WBO world title fight. “We are very happy; we are going to have the best fight this year. Manny Pacquiao is the best pound for pound, the fastest who can punch, against the toughest who can also punch – that will be a great fight – 2 great champions fighting,” Valcarcel declared.
Besides Pacquiao, his legendary trainer, Freddie Roach, got the biggest ovation when announced to the media. And Arum gave Roach a heartfelt introduction.
“Freddie Roach is known to all of you as the best trainer in the world. I remember Freddy when he was a fighter and I never would have believed that he would have evolved into the best trainer because Freddy’s way of fighting was to come forward and throw a million punches and hope that more of his punches landed than his opponents and most of the time they did, sort of reminiscent of his pupil’s style. Freddie Roach is a great, great story for the sport of boxing. We all know how he has taken Manny Pacquiao from a raw talent and helped mold him into the greatest fighter in the world that he has become. Freddie is truly talented, he is truly dedicated and above all he’s a wonderful, wonderful person.
“Thank you, thanks for all being here, this is going to be a great event; we’re really excited about fighting in Cowboy Stadium. This is going to be the biggest crowd we have fought in front of. Manny Pacquiao is a great champion. We have had a great training camp; we have a good game plan. Joshua I wish you luck, I respect you and you’re a great fighter. Manny Pacquiao is just on top of his game right now and we’ll see you all Saturday."
Clottey had kind words to say about Pacquiao and showed great respect for him:
“I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for the opportunity he is giving me. I want to see what he can do. No matter what happens in the ring, I still like a chance to win. Good luck to Manny Pacquiao and good luck to me on Saturday, thank you very much.”
Pacquiao was his typical humble self.
“Our goal is to show how we can give a good fight and a good show," he said. "We will try our best to give a fight, to give our best. This is the first we are to fight in Dallas Saturday and I want people to be satisfied. I don’t want to disappoint. Thank you for all your support.”
Pacquiao and Roach later spoke about how they may handle Clottey based on how he comes to fight.
Pacquiao said, “We have a plan, we have a strategy, whatever happens in the ring, we are going to adjust. We study our opponent’s style, before we start training for the fight; we train perfectly for that style of opponent. Our team work is very good. Usually we don’t tell anyone before the fight our strategy. All we say is we are going to give a good fight.
Roach added, “We can’t predict what he’s going to do so we’re ready for more than just one game plan. We’re very versatile and we will adapt, yes.”
Roach knows Clottey is the bigger man and will have the longer reach.
“We know he has a longer reach and he knows how to use it but we worked on how to take that away from him,” stated Roach.
On whether Pacquiao is still learning his craft or just refining what he already knows.
“We know a lot of techniques in boxing, but boxing depends on how you train, how you prepare for that style of opponent. Like in school and you have an exam tomorrow and your subject is math, you cannot review tonight a science subject, you have to review a math subject in advance. We studied first, before we train in the gym, we study the style of the opponent."
Assuming Pacquiao gets by Clottey on Saturday, Arum discussed future opponents for Pacquiao.
“So many good fighters coming up, Pacquiao’s next fight could very well be in Cowboy Stadium. If Pacquiao, Mayweather happen I would insist that it be here, but I don’t know what kind of block, but it takes two to tango. You would have to convince Mayweather to come here and I don’t know if it would be that easy. “
Arum added, “Again we would take a look at Mayweather and go through the same nonsense and fish and cut bait earlier. Other guys he could fight, maybe Margarito, maybe fight a guy his own size like Marquez, maybe Valero, those are all possibilities. Maybe God is listening and we all get lucky and Mosley beats Mayweather, it would be a pleasure to do a fight with Pacquiao and Mosley, two good guys.”
And what about that fight taking place in Vegas at the MGM – one of Golden Boy Promotion’s favorite spots, Arum grew agitated:
“No, it wouldn’t be at the MGM!” And when pressed about Golden Boy’s feeling of coming to Dallas previously for the Mayweather bout that fell apart, Arum snapped, “F--- Golden Boy!”
What about the rumor that this could be Pacquiao’s last fight if he wins the election in his native Philippines?
“He doesn’t talk about it, Freddie talks about it," said Arum, in disbelief. "Every time I talk to him he’s [Pacquiao] talking about when I am going to schedule his next fight. So I don’t know where this started, Freddie is making more than any trainer as ever in history and he can’t wait for this guy to retire.
With just few days left to the fight, Arum, who has promoted some of the biggest fights in history, was flabbergasted when introduced to the Cowboy way of promoting standing room only as they approach their initial goal of 45,000 tickets sold.
“As of Monday, the box office report I got Tuesday showed 3,900 tickets left to sale," said Arum. "I haven’t gotten a report this morning. We’re at 40,000, we can go to 45,000. And people say if we are going to do anymore – something I have never heard of - only in Texas – Jerry says – he said we can always do party passes – party passes in Texas, standing up,” chuckled Arum.
Although the gate is great for Jones, Arum has high hopes for the pay-per-view, where he really capitalizes on a star like Pacquiao. He has witnessed a trend in several past fights, such as Pacquiao vs. Cotto, where the pay-per-view did better than predicted.
“I think we are going to do a little better. I think we are going to do better. Everybody got behind it, the media turnout is unbelievable, it’s all over the web so forth, ESPN is going crazy with it. I mean every time you put a camera in front of Jerry he’s talking and selling the fight – a great salesman, god you talk about salesman and so I think that many drive the numbers. Jerry’s goal, even though he doesn’t share in the pay-per-view is for us to do a million homes. I think everybody, the cable systems and the satellite providers are learning how to market these events and that’s driving the numbers.”