Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Joshua Clottey Set to Train for Manny Pacquiao

Former IBF world welterweight (147 pounds) champion, Joshua Clottey, should arrive in New York on Friday and then "head down to Florida on Monday or Tuesday," to begin training for his March 13 challenge for the WBO belt owned by seven-division titlist, Manny Pacquiao, his manager, Vinny Scolpino, told FanHouse on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Clottey (35-3, 20 knockouts) will meet the southpaw, Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs), of the
Philippines, at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. The fighters' Top Rank Promotions' CEO, Bob Arum, said ticket sales are soaring for the first-ever boxing match at the $1.2 billion domed venue.

"Everything is good. Joshua is in the gym, training, and so he is with his trainer training in the gym. And everything is good for him to come back up Friday, and then we head down to Florida on Monday or Tuesday," Scolpino said of Clottey, a Bronx resident who is a native of Accra, Ghana.

"We'll be staying in Hollywood, Florida, and he'll be training at the Carter Park Contender Boxing Gym, in Fort Lauderdale," said Scolpino. "Today, he's training in Ghana, right around Accra. He just got there about a couple of days ago, and he's been in training every day."
Clottey recently returned to Ghana in order to help resolve United States visas for his new trainer, Godwin Nii Dzanie Kotey, who will be in Clottey's corner for the first time.

The trainer's visas had expired in November -- this after Kwame Asante had been in Clottey's corner for June's, 12-round split-decision loss to then-WBO king, Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 KOs), whom the 31-year-old Pacquiao dethroned by 12th-round knockout in November.

Scolpino said that the visa situation has been been taken care of. Kotey is a replacement for longtime trainer Asante.

Kotey has been "working with Joshua already for about five months," said Scolpino.

"It [replacing Asante] was Joshua's decision, and everything is good there," said Scolpino. "We should have everything on track, like I said, Monday or Tuesday, to go to Florida."

Clottey was actually the third choice for Pacquiao, who was initially supposed to face Floyd Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas before the fighters' negotiations came apart over a drug-testing impasse.

Before settling on the muscular, 5-foot-9, Clottey, Pacquiao also had considered as opponents, WBA and WBO lightweight (135 pounds) titlist Juan Manuel Marquez (50-5-1, 37 KOs); New York's junior welterweight (140 pounds) star, Paulie Malignaggi (27-3, five KOs); WBA junior middleweight king Yuri Foreman (28-0, eight KOs) of New York; and, even WBC super featherweight (130 pounds) champ, Humberto Soto (50-7-2, 32 KOs) -- the latter of whom knocked out Pacquiao's brother, Bobby, in the seventh round in June of 2007.

By settling on the man nicknamed, "The Grand Master," Pacquiao has afforded Clottey not only the biggest opportunity of his career, but also a purse that will surpass $1 million for the first time in his career.

In addition, unlike Cotto, who was contracted to face Pacquiao at a catchweight of 145 pounds, Clottey is encouraged by the fact that he is being allowed to face Pacquiao at the 147-pound welterweight limit.

Clottey has fought at more than 147 pounds 11 times during his career, including twice at 154. By fight time, against Pacquiao, Clottey could be a fully-hydrated and well-fed 160 pounds or more.

"That's going to help me a lot, because I don't think I could have done it at 145 pounds. Pacquiao's being very nice, because he's the man now," Clottey told FanHouse during an interview on Jan. 13. Pacquiao is 11-0 with eight knockouts since losing by unanimous decision to Erik Morales in March 2005 at 130 pounds.

"That's going to make me the bigger guy in the ring," said Clottey. "So, with him choosing me to fight me at 147, I respect him for that."

But Scolpino says that Clottey has gotten over the honeymoon stage of having been chosen as Pacquiao's dance partner.

"Josh was always a hard worker, so he's never out of shape. For him, he's always ahead of the curve, you know?", said Scolpino. "As far as strategy and what we need to do to get in there and beat Pacquiao, we'll start his camp on Tuesday, like I said, and then we'll go from there."

Among Clottey's biggest victories are those over former world champions, Diego Corrales, and, Zab Judah, respectively, in April of 2007 and August of 2008.

Clottey earned a unanimous 10-round decision over Corrales, and a ninth-round technical decision over Judah, a southpaw like Pacquiao.

The victory over Judah earned Clottey the IBF title, which he gave up in order to face Cotto.

"I definitely think Clottey's the biggest fighter Pacquiao will have faced," said Scolpino. "As far as the toughest, Joshua's definitely a tough guy."

Besides Cotto, Clottey's only other losses were in November of 1999, and, December of 2006, respectively, to former world champions, Carlos Baldomir, and, Antonio Margarito.

Clottey was ahead against Baldomir when he was disqualified for an intentional head butt in the 11th round, and also led Margarito early before damaged knuckles in both hands slowed Clottey over the course of a 12-round unanimous decision loss during his bid to dethrone Margarito as WBO king.

"Joshua's defense is impeccable," said Scolpino. "I mean, everybody that we have fought since I've been managing him -- which has been almost four years now -- has not hurt Joshua."

Clottey was floored by a counter left hook in the final 10 seconds or so of the first round against Cotto, but it was considered a flash knockdown.

"Joshua has come out of the ring clean and unmarked -- no matter who he has fought," said Scolpino. "I know that Manny has huge punching power, but if Pacquiao cracks Joshua's defense, it would be something beyond belief to me."

Clottey blamed hesitation among his shortcomings against Cotto.

"During the later rounds, you think about getting tired. I thought that I might have done that in Rounds 9 and 10 against Cotto," Clottey told FanHouse on Jan. 13.

"This fight [against Pacquiao,] I'm not going to think about tiring," said Clottey. "I want Manny Pacquiao to know that he picked a guy who will give him all that he wants. I'm going to fight until the last bell."

Against Cotto, Clottey lost, 116-111, and, 115-112, on two judges card, while being awarded a 114-113 decision on the third.

The difference between winning and losing against Cotto, said Scopino, may have been Clottey's relative inactivity.

"Joshua's just got to let his hands go. If he lets his hands go with his combinations or his hook, listen, he's definitely done his job," said Scolpino.

"It all comes down to whether or not he lets his hands go a little bit more, and we have all of the plans of doing that," said Scolpino. "We have a conditioning coach that will be down in Florida with him that will take him to the next level, and he's never had that before."

Meanwhile, Arum said that tickets are going swiftly for Pacquiao-Clottey.

"We have about 20,000 tickets left to sell. We're very gratified with how the tickets have flown out," said Arum, of an arena that will be set up, at least, initially to seat 50,000.."We're sure that when we announce the undercard, the rest of the tickets will be sold."

Cowboys Stadium seats 80,000, but is expandable enough so that it can hold up to 111,000. The stadium also has a retractable ceiling.

In addition, the stadium boasts over 3,000 Sony LCD displays throughout the luxury suites, concourses, concession areas and more, allowing fans the ability to watch the action from anywhere.

All, if not most, of the displays will be operating on fight night, Cowboys Stadium owner, Jerry Jones, told FanHouse on Jan. 10.


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