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Monday, March 1, 2010

Inside the Ropes 03.01.10: Clottey's Quiet Confidence

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Pacquiao vs Clottey
Don't tell Clottey he's supposed to be worried

You'd think by the way he's going about his business, Joshua Clottey is preparing for any typical welterweight fight. He doesn't make a lot of noise; he more or less stays out of the public eye and confidently trains without even so much as watching his opponent's fight tapes.

On March 13, Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs) takes on boxing's best in Manny Pacquiao at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium for the WBO 147-pound title. Easily the biggest fight of his career, though he's tangled with big dogs like Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, Clottey has been busy at work at his training camp in Florida for another world title shot. It's an opportunity he received when the proposed Mayweather-Pacquiao fight fell apart; truly a blessing in disguise from the Ghanaian.

"I was so surprised that I had this opportunity to fight against Manny Pacquiao and when Bob Arum and Top Rank called me about this opportunity to fight Manny Pacquiao, I was so happy and I want to win this fight in a big way," said Clottey on a conference call last week.

That he's got a fight of this magnitude on his plate doesn't seem to faze him however as he's gone about training the same way he does for every fight – even avoiding those tapes.

"That is right. I never watch tapes of people," admitted Clottey. "I don't like watching tapes but I know how he fights. When I get to the ring I know how he is going to be. "

Perhaps not the best way to prepare for a fighter like Pacquiao but nonetheless it's worked pretty well for him so far. In his last outing against Miguel Cotto, Clottey seemed to have things figured out as he made Cotto's life a living hell with a crab-like defense, strong punches upstairs and non-stop pressure. Well perhaps not non-stop, as he seemed to have a few lapses in workrate which may have ultimately given away the fight. He did get dropped early on in the fight but he more or less dominated when he was pressing the action. Those few times however when he felt compelled to sit back and coast, gave Cotto the opening he needed to not only stay in the fight but pull it out in the end. It's a mistake Clottey regrets and aims to avoid next time but reiterates that he's more focused on connecting with punches than throwing them in bunches.

"You know, I'm not a flyweight. I am not a bantamweight. I am a welterweight and welterweights only throw punches that connect. I can throw shots which connect and land and cause damage," Clottey stated.

As for the Pacquiao fight, Clottey has remained in the shadows as usual, only praising his opponent while adjusting to a camp without his own trainer. Due to issues acquiring a visa, his trainer was left behind in Ghana while Clottey's cutman, who is known to push the former welterweight titlist during training, has undertaken the grizzly task of trying to lead his charge over Manny. It's perhaps the demoralizing prospect of being without his trainer that has become the chink in his usually iron-cast armor. Admitting that he even wept when coming to terms with the situation, Clottey was willing to do what it takes to get him Stateside but alas it was not to be. Still, Clottey reinforces that he's more than capable to of holding his own against the pound for pound king.

"I am very much ready for Manny Pacquiao," says Clottey. "I keep telling people that I am going to fight and I know it's not easy. It's not going to be easy for me and it's not going to be easy for Manny Pacquiao because I am going to fight the guy who the people think is the best."

Though not many have been able to find any real openings to get to Pacquiao, since Juan Manuel Marquez came close in their rematch in 2008, Clottey feels that it's his defense that will create more opportunities than was the case against guys like Cotto, Hatton and De La Hoya.

"He won't see the openings with me. When I block the punches it will always make him think. You see, I have my game plan. I know what is going to happen in the ring. I always come to fight and I always see my openings. My game plan is to chase him, but i he is going to be there, fine."

Regardless of what happens in two weeks, one thing's for sure, Joshua Clottey will continue to keep to himself, work hard in the gym and let his fists do the talking.

"A victory would mean more than a lot to me. That's why I am so happy about this opportunity. And second, if I beat Manny Pacquiao I am going to be very much happy, because he is the best fighter out there. He is the man now and he's giving me a chance to fight him and if I beat him, I'm going to be on top of the world. It will be very important to the people in my country and that is very important in life."

We've already seen what one man can do for his country when he's on top of the world. Perhaps another fighter will get that same opportunity; but only time will tell.

Random Thoughts

- I was impressed with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.'s performance against Marvin Sonsona for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title. After a great opening round by Sonsona, Vazquez quickly settled down and began to impose his will on the heavily hyped prospect. The victory puts him in position for bigger and better things over the next year or so while Sonsona will need to regroup. The loss will be tough but Sonsona can bounce back.

- Carlos Negron is also another fighter to keep your eye on. This kid can bang.

- Congrats to Jason Cintron, who was on 3 More Rounds this past week (despite the show's technical difficulties). The younger brother of Kermit Cintron truly wants to carve his own path and he's only improving.

- Rough night for Kendall Holt in Atlantic City. He simply had nothing coming into this fight and it showed by the fourth round. Could this be the end of the line?

- If there's one complaint from this weekend, it was hearing Col. Bob Sheridan's commentary from Puerto Rico ; it was absolutely ridiculous and annoying.. The Colonel truly needs to calm down as a random observer might of thought he was calling Tyson vs. Douglas from 1990. Take a chill pill Bob. I enjoyed the action but you took it to a whole other level.

- As you read this, the month of March has kicked off. That means plenty of great fights are coming up in the following weeks. Don't blink!

Till next time, see you at the fights!


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