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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Joshua Clottey Dissects The Manny Pacquiao/Steroids Myth

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By Keith Idec (photo by Chris Farina/Top Rank)

Joshua Clottey seems as certain that Manny Pacquiao isn’t on steroids as he is that he will win their welterweight title fight March 13 in Arlington, Texas.

Clottey refused to support suggestions from Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. regarding Pacquiao’s possible use of performance-enhancing drugs on a conference call to promote their fight. After getting to know Pacquiao during the press tour for their HBO Pay-Per-View main event, Clottey cannot bring himself to suspect Pacquiao of wrongdoing.

Mayweather’s supporters surely will call Clottey naïve, but Clottey couldn’t care less.

“I don’t want to do that, because I respect him so much,” Clottey said. “He’s a very nice guy. I feel comfortable around him. He’s a nice, classy guy. He respects everybody. … I don’t think Manny Pacquiao does [steroids]. But if he does that, then that is cheating the sport.”

Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs, 1 NC), a Bronx, N.Y., resident raised in Ghana, understands why steroid speculation has swirled around Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) now that he has dominated Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in his last three fights. But Clottey contends those fighters made mental mistakes that enabled Pacquiao to stop each of them.

“Mayweather started thinking [Pacquiao is on steroids] because of the way Pacquiao beat Cotto,” Clottey said. “To me, from the way I analyze it, I think the other guys [lost to Pacquiao] because they don’t respect his power. That’s why he’s surprising them.”

Clottey is convinced Cotto, who beat Clottey by split decision June 13 at Madison Square Garden, was most guilty of underestimating Pacquiao’s power.

“Cotto is stronger than Pacquiao,” Clottey said. “It is true. But Cotto [didn’t] respect Pacquiao. He [thought] Pacquiao is too small to hurt him. I’m not thinking that at all. See me in the ring. I will give him a lot of respect. With that, he’s not going to surprise me with any punch. If you don’t respect an opponent, even your little son can hit your jaw and if it connects, you’re going to go down.”

Puerto Rico’s Cotto had been stopped by Antonio Margarito 15 months before he fought Pacquiao, but Clottey, a good defensive fighter with a granite chin, has never been knocked out. His three losses include 12-round decision defeats to Cotto and Margarito, and a disqualification defeat to former welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir.

The 31-year-old Pacquiao, of course, has been knocked out twice during his 15-year professional career, once in a 110-pound bout and again in a WBC flyweight title fight.

Rustico Torrecampo, another Filipino southpaw, knocked out Pacquiao in the third round of a February 1996 bout in Manila. Thailand’s Medgoen “3-K Battery” Singsurat also knocked out Pacquiao in the third round of their 112-pound championship match in September 1997 in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand.

Those losses, coupled with Pacquiao’s ability to withstand the power of much bigger men, have made Mayweather question Pacquiao’s legitimacy even more. While Mayweather’s demand for Olympic drug testing eventually ended negotiations for boxing’s biggest bout, Clottey and his handlers never considered trying to make Pacquiao submit to additional testing prior to their fight.

Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, said negotiations for the Pacquiao-Clottey fight lasted about 24 hours. It obviously helped that Arum’s Top Rank Inc. also promotes Clottey, who clearly learned an invaluable lesson during negotiations for an ill-fated rematch against Margarito late in 2008.

Clottey, 32, turned down what would’ve been a career-high $750,000 purse because he wanted at least $1 million to meet Mexico’s Margarito again. Margarito instead fought Shane Mosley, and although Clottey eventually landed the Cotto fight, he made $200,000 less than he was offered for the Margarito fight to box Cotto.

Nevertheless, Vinny Scolpino, Clottey’s manager, said he never even mentioned additional testing to Arum before the fight was made.

“If the commission wants to implement other drug testing rules, let them implement it and we’ll follow them,” Scolpino said. “We abide by the rules that are set forth and we go forward. Look, Manny’s a super champion; we all hope that he’s doing the right thing. And if the commission finds [Pacquiao’s steroid use] in their drug testing, they find it. That’s the way it is.”

Mosley met Mayweather’s demands for Olympic drug testing to secure a fight he has wanted for a long time. But if Mayweather wins their fight May 1 in Las Vegas and Pacquiao overcomes Clottey, Arum assures anyone who’ll listen that a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight won’t get made if Mayweather continues to push for random testing before the fight.

“That is not a topic for negotiation,” Arum said. “That is something for the commission to decide. And then any participant in a boxing match who wants more stringent testing than is applicable in that state can go before commission, present his case and let the commission decide. That’s not for a bunch of amateurs to start talking about, and start making demands. That is wrong. That is what’s called chaos.

“What you have to do, and every fighter has the right to do it … that’s what you have commissions for, you go before the commission and you say, ‘I want such-and-such and such-and-such done on the testing.’ And you let the commissioners decide. That’s what they’re getting paid for, to decide those kinds of questions.”

Clottey, meanwhile, is more focused on figuring out how to neutralize Pacquiao’s speed, Pacquiao’s biggest advantage in their 12-round fight for Pacquiao’s WBO 147-pound title at Cowboys Stadium. If Clottey can do that, throws more punches than usual and pulls off an upset, he knows March 13 won’t represent the last seven-figure payday of his career.

“I’m so happy about this opportunity,” Clottey said. “If I beat Manny Pacquiao, I’ll be so happy. I think I’ll be happy for the whole month, because he’s the best fighter out there. He’s the man now. He’s giving me a chance to fight him, and if I beat him I’m going to be on top of the world.”

Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and


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