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Monday, February 15, 2010

Are the odds stacked against Joshua Clottey?

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Pittsburgh Fight Sports Examiner | Scott Heritage

With most odds makers, Joshua Clottey was a pretty big underdog coming into his March 13th showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

Since then the odds have dipped further in Pacquiao's favor, and not just with the bookmakers.

The first problem Clottey encountered was that his head trainer was not allowed a Visa to enter the United States. He even appealed to the Ghanaian embassy and government for the Visa to be pushed through but as yet to no avail.

Apparently Clottey was having trouble getting focused at the start of his training without his trainer, although as reported by my quick witted pal Mr. Marley in New York, hes now tearing through training partners like he should be with a month to go.

Jacob Brandt, Pittsburgh PA: "Why was Clottey's trainer turned down for a Visa, hasn't he gotten them before? Also shouldn't the people at Top Rank check this stuff out before booking the fight?"

Even for someone used to applying for them, Visas are often complicated and there are a lot of questions aimed to catch people out. I personally have spent many a long hour slaving away over various forms from the government regarding these issues, and they aren't much fun I can tell you.

That aside, the responsibility is on Clottey and his team rather than Top Rank with this one. From the looks of things the problem was unexpected by all parties. Top Rank does have immigration experts on retainer though, (they have one working on Edwin Valero's case) so they might be helping out behind the scenes anyway.

Secondly the referee for the bout was changed from Laurence Cole to Rafael Ramos. Ramos has never officiated with either fighter before, but has a well respected record. Some might remember he was the third man for Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Juan Diaz.

Cole on the other hand is known for his odd decisions and bad calls more than anything else. He also usually gets most of the big fights held in Texas, and his father is the head of the boxing commission. I'm sure some might venture a connection there.

He also once apparently told Juan Manuel Marquez that he was ahead on the scorecards when fighting Jimrex Jaca when he was having a deep cut inspected. Effectively telling him he could have the fight stopped and still win. Warrior that he is of course, Marquez fought on regardless.

Charlie Whitton, Pittsburgh PA: "Cole is a joke, he almost cost Pacquiao the Barrera fight and he's been stinking up the circuit in Texas ever since. I guarantee the fight will be ruined if that's the guy in charge"

So why the diatribe about the refereeing? On the face of things a bad referee has been replaced with a very good one, and in the interests of fairness this is true. Keeping Cole as a referee would have favored Clottey though because he would have been able to get away with more in the ring. That isn't to say Clottey is a dirty fighter as such, but rather on with a bad habit.

As a quick glance at Clottey's record will show you, he has a tendency to come in with his head and cause a lot of cuts, and a cut stoppage is hardly fitting of the pound for pound champion. Neither is a referee who might miss it, get the call wrong or otherwise tip the balance in favor of one fighter with his decision making. Don't get the wrong idea here people, I'm not saying this wasn't the right move, just that it would have been an advantage for Clottey had the referee stayed the same.

M.B, Philly PA: "One day after the WBO announced who their referee would be-a State Representative(who will not make himself available for questions regarding this matter) has contacted the Texas Athletic Association and had the referee replaced. Everything that promoter Bob Arum has done to this point has been geared toward providing Pacquaio EVERY possible advantage before they even step into the ring!"

It might look that way on the surface, but as much as anything else, whoever made the change probably wanted to make sure the fight wasn't ruined by bad decision making. The Pacquiao vs. Barrera fight is a well known example of Cole's questionable decision making, and the powers that be certainly don't want a repeat of that.


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