Feature: Is Clottey on a flight of fantasy?

Author: Bernard Neequaye

It was a surprise call by Joshua Clottey to have a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, nine years after their world championship fight in 2010 and also at a time when he is not competing at the highest level.

Is that to say Clottey wants the rematch badly to prove himself against the Filipino or he is looking for another paycheque?

First of all, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Clottey for his impressive performance against Tanzania’s Azizi Mponda, where he knocked out his opponent in nine rounds to win the Odwira Festival Fight Night headliner on September 21.

It was an explosive performance against a nobody of a fighter but I wonder if that propelled him to call out Pacquiao who is still competing at the highest level at age 40.

The old adage which stipulates that once a champion, always a champion was brought to bear when Clottey pummeled Tanzania’s Mponda to win convincingly.

Clottey did not only prove his worth on the night but showed that his opponent was a mismatch by dominating and dictating the bout with good shots which reminded the teeming crowd of his old self.

Having had an illustrious career which saw him fight most of the elite welterweights of his time, such as Zab Judah, Antonio Magarito, Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao, among others, I think Clottey had his chance to slug it out at the highest level during his hey days and I feel he should call time on his career rather than being over ambitious at this stage by calling out an eight-division world champion in Pacquiao.

I’m saying this because, Clottey has just two fights to his credit against unfamiliar foes in Mfaume Mfaume and Azizi Mponda in the last four years, as compared to Pacquiao’s six which were all world title fights against the likes of Timothy Bradley Jnr, Jessie Vargas, Jeff Horn, Lucas Martin Matthysse, Adrien Broner and recently against Keith Thurman.

I beg to differ when Clottey said he was ready to challenge his nemesis without any purse in a bid to redeem his image after a poor showing in their only fight ten years ago because boxing statutes won’t allow him to fight without a purse.

“I won’t charge any money for the rematch. If I get to the ring and the performance is not good, then no pay but if the performance is good, then I will charge for the match.

“I want that fight so badly just to redeem my image but that opportunity is not available. However, if it comes I will grab it,” Clottey was quoted as saying.

In as much as I welcome his commitment to prove his worth against Pacquiao in a rematch, I believe his performance against the hard-hitting Filipino at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas in March 2010 didn’t do him any good.

Clottey’s ordeal

Clottey withdrew into his shell like a turtle who was being attacked throughout the 12 rounds of the fight with Pacquiao, and resorted to a defensive tactic instead of being competitive.

His refusal to throw punches against his opponent which he recently blamed on an unfair financial treatment by his then Italian-American manager, Vincent Scolpino, killed a career which could have ended up sharing the ring with Floyd Mayweather had he impressed against Pacquiao.

Clottey had told the Graphic Sports in a recent interview that his decision not to put his life on the line in the ring with Pacquiao ten years ago was in protest of how he was financially cheated by Scolpino who he claimed only cared about his percentage from the purse and not his career.

“Looking back, I feel like I made a mistake with the Pacquiao fight by not throwing punches. But sometimes, to tell you the truth, I feel like it’s okay. I had a lot of issues with my manager at the time, Vincent Scolpino. He took advantage of me.

“Our agreement said that he would help financially until I reached $70,000 a fight. He was taking 33 per cent of my money. But once I started making over $70,000, he just disappeared. He wasn’t doing anything a manager should do. He wasn’t providing any financial help. Not even encouragement. Meanwhile, my promoter is the one getting me fights. Vinny wouldn’t even come to see me in camp. He would show up fight week, collect his money after the fight and that was it,” Clottey recounted.

“I don’t think people understand how much that can weaken a fighter’s spirit. I didn’t see Vinny until the week of the Pacquiao fight. So, after the weigh-in, I went to his hotel room. I told him how unhappy I was. I said, drop the 33 per cent down to 27 per cent. He refused. When I fought Pacquiao, I decided I was just going to defend myself. I wasn’t going to put my life on the line for people who did nothing, but take from me. It was all about business for Vinny. And I’m going in there taking punches so that he can take a big portion even though you don’t speak to me,” he lamented.

Career dip

I continue to wonder how Clottey made a fool of Ghanaians when he blamed his defeat then to Pacquiao on an intake of “okro” in the build up to the fight, which he claimed weakened him when indeed the real reasons were from his management.

At the end, he lost to Pacquiao in a fight which served as a test to greater heights in his career, and has since paid the consequences of that failure. As I write, he is yet to make another appearance at the highest level against any big name in the welterweight division after that abysmal showing against the Filipino.

After that defeat, the biggest fighter he had fought was Australia’s Anthony Mundine who he defeated in 2014 to clinch the WBA International super welterweight title.

His supposed fights with Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara all fell through after the Pacquiao bout, and at age 41 without any competitive fight, money could only be the motivation for calling out Pacquiao.

Dominant Pacquiao

At 40 years, the legendary Filipino great continues to dominate the sport in splendid fashion with an all time eight-division world titlist record.

He still holds a world title in the WBA welterweight crown after earning a split decision victory to retain his strap against Keith Thurman last July, and is looking forward to slug it out with Mickey Garcia next March.

This raises red flags to me why Clottey would think the boxing pride of the Philippines would leave all his possible suitors such as Errol Spence Jnr, Terrence Crawford and Mickey Garcia, among others, who are fighting at the highest level to pick him for a rematch.

Moreover, their only fight nine years ago only came about as a result of a proposed Pacquiao-Mayweather bout breaking down and the Ghanaian was brought in only as a replacement.

The only advice I have for Clottey at this stage would be to accept his fate as having done with his boxing career and to consider hanging up his gloves because I don’t think I will give him a chance to fight me if I were in Pacquiao’s shoes.