by James Slater – Former IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey landed the biggest fight of his career when the eagerly awaited Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Junior fight fell apart. The teak-tough 32-year-old from Ghana received the great news last week whilst in his homeland of Ghana, and yesterday the 35-3(20) warrior arrived back in New York. Having had some bad luck recently – what with his big fight with “Sugar” Shane Mosley, originally set for Boxing Day, 2009, called off – Clottey is at last the beneficiary of some fortune his hard work has earned him.
Very kindly taking the time to speak with me on the upcoming mega-fight with the pound-for-pound king, the always modest and easygoing Clottey had the following answers to my questions:
James Slater: Congratulations on getting the huge fight with Pacquiao! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, Joshua, I know you’ve got a lot going on. First of all, is this the best possible fight you could have hoped for? If you could have picked your dream fight, would this fight with Manny Pacquiao have been it?
Joshua Clottey: Thank you very much. Yes, this is the fight I have always wanted. I’ve always wanted fights like this – against the best fighters in the world. I really want to prove my point in this fight, prove to the whole world that I am the best. I’m so happy about getting this fight with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world..
J.S: After all the recent disappointments you’ve had, with the Shane Mosley fight falling through for one thing – have things turned out even better in the long run? You now have the Pacquiao fight, and everyone knows you deserve it.
J.C: Yes, you’re right. I was upset when the Mosley fight fell through, but this is better. I’m most honoured to be getting this fight – this is what I’ve always wanted.
J.S: When did you get to the U.S from Ghana?
J.C: Yesterday. I had to come back to sign the contract today. It will all be wrapped up today.
J.S: I know you are a guy who is always in shape, but when will you begin camp for March 13th?
J.C: Right now, I have to do the press conference. I want to say thank you to Top Rank – they have been so good to me throughout my career. And I want to say thank you to Manny Pacquiao as well. Then, after the press conference, I will sort out my training camp. Right now I am running, I’m jogging in the morning and in the afternoon.
J.S: Is it too early talk about who you will be sparring with? Lots of southpaws though, obviously.
J.C: I will think about who I will spar with later, but one thing about me is, I know how to handle southpaws easy. [Miguel] Cotto switched to southpaw in the fight and it was no problem. So I’m not concerned about Pacquiao’s stance. I can handle that good.
J.S: A key question, Joshua, is at what weight will the fight take place at? Will it be a catch-weight fight, like the Pacquiao-Cotto fight was?
J.C: It will be at full welterweight. Manny Pacquiao is a very nice person, and he wants to show the world he can fight a real welterweight, someone who is big like me.
J.S: If that did come about, though, and they asked you to fight at, say, 145-pounds, would you do it?
J.C: That’s never been talked about. Bob Arum got him to agree to fight at 147, and I want to thank Bob Arum for that. If I had to [come in at 145] I don’t think I could really do it. I wouldn’t want to drain myself. Boxing is dangerous and I wouldn’t want to fight while weakened.
J.S: Well, that’s good news, the fight being at a full 147. As great as Pacquiao is, you think you can beat him. How hard do you see the fight being?
J.C: You know, this is not an easy fight at all. But you know me, I always come to do my job in the ring, and I come to make the people happy. I can handle southpaws well and I will beat Pacquiao. I’m ready to shock the world.
J.S: Do you yourself think it will be considered an amazing upset if you beat Pacquiao, or will people say, “well, Clottey was too big for Pacquiao?”
J.C: I don’t know if people will be amazed, but I will beat him. If I do, people may then say that he [Pacquiao] can’t beat real welterweights. But if he can win, they will say he has beaten a real guy at the weight. But if I beat him, they will say he wasn’t able to beat the genuine welterweights.
J.S: You mean because of the way Pacquiao beat a weight-drained Oscar de La Hoya, and a 145-pound Cotto, the critics will say that?
J.C: Yes. I want to see myself, if Pacquiao beat those guys – De La Hoya, Cotto, Ricky Hatton, because of the weight they had to come down to. I also want to see if he beat those guys for real or if he beat them with something. I will show the world the answer to this question.
J.S: When you say with “something,” do you mean what all the Floyd Mayweather thing has been about? I mean, we can’t say anything about steroids, we could get in trouble, and we can’t say Pacquiao uses or has used them.
J.C: No, I don’t think he has used steroids, but I can’t say for sure. But if he has, it’s very unfair. I’m going up against him now, and I want to see if he can beat a real, big, natural welterweight.
J.S: How will you fight Pacquiao? And will he be the fastest guy you’ll have ever fought?
J.C: It’s too early to talk about my tactics, but I will follow him; I will come forward in the fight. Yes, he will be the fastest guy I’ll have fought, but Pacquiao is also durable as well as fast. I’m concerned about his speed, of course, but every time I hit him he will feel it, and maybe this will break him down. I think this will be a nice fight. There’s one thing about me; I hate losing.
J.S: This is a huge fight; do you feel any more nervous or excited than you have before any other fight?
J.C: I feel more happy with this fight than for any other. It’s not easy to get a fight with Manny Pacquiao, the best pound-for-pound in the world. I want to see how good he and Freddie Roach are – I’m fighting them both and I want to see how they perform. I want to see what they can do against me.
J.S: The sky’s the limit for you if you can win this one, Joshua. Has Pacquiao made a mistake by fighting you?
J.C: Well, we always ask that before a fight. People have asked me that – as I am bigger and stronger than him. In that regard, he has made a mistake. But he is fast and he wants to prove to the world he can beat someone as big and as strong as me.
J.S: Well, we all look forward to the fight. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you, Joshua. Can I ask you finally: how do you see yourself winning – on points or by KO?
J.C: I think I’ll win on points, but if a KO comes I’ll take it and give it to the world.