Boxing: Pacquiao can edge closer to greats

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The Independent Online

The Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted to pay a $25m site fee for the proposed Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fight, but when that deal collapsed in acrimony, he paid a lot less and will still get a fight with 45,000 fans tonight in his stadium.

Pacquiao defends his World Boxing Organisation welterweight title against Ghana's Joshua Clottey in a fight that under normal circumstances would simply slide under the radar. However, Pacquiao's position on the very edge of boxing greatness has turned his latest fight into a massive event.

"I have said for a long, long time that Manny belongs with the greats," insisted promoter Bob Arum. "He will take his place next to Muhammad Ali." Arum promoted some of Ali's most monumental fights.

During the last 18 months Pacquiao has won world titles at lightweight, light-welterweight and welterweight; stopping three champions, including Ricky Hatton.

His proposed and then abandoned showdown with Mayweather was expected to become the most lucrative fight in history.

Tonight's fight with Clottey was unexpected and is not the easy option that some people and the bookies seem to think. "I never thought he would give me the chance," Clottey said. "When they called me I was surprised. I'm so happy, I'm so proud."

Clottey, who is a former champion at welterweight, is bigger in every area – "I am a very big welterweight" – and has never been stopped, but there are justified concerns about his approach.

In previous fights, where he lost, he fought like a loser and that mental attitude is likely to be crucial against Pacquiao who will win: A stoppage will only move Pacquiao closer to the greats.