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Friday, March 12, 2010

And The Winner is...Joshua Clottey

ARLINGTON, TEX. -- Challenger Joshua Clottey was nearing the end of Wednesday's press conference for Saturday night's clash with WBO welterweight (147 pounds) champion, Manny Pacquiao, at The Dallas Cowboys' Stadium.

And after an hour or so of compliments thrown back and forth between the future combatants, it was about time for the kids gloves to come off -- at least, that's how the 32-year-old Clottey seemed to be feeling.

"He's [Pacquiao] fighting with a real welterweight -- no catch weight, no nothing. I've always felt like I've never, ever lost a fight, that's what I always say. And I have never gotten beat up," said Clottey, when pressed about how he would handle the often, overwhelming, windmill-like pressure of Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 knockouts).

"I've never felt none of my opponents punches before. I want to see if I'm gonna feel Manny Pacquiao's punches. Call me crazy, but I just want to see that," said Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs). "I'm a really true welterweight. Big for that matter. He's a smaller guy and can throw a lot of punches. But I connect punches. I'll make sure that if I throw a few, it's going to connect, and I'm going cause damage."

And when he's not firing at Pacquiao, Clottey said that he'll be blocking his rival's offensive efforts -- so much so that Pacquiao's ineffectiveness will cause the champion to question himself as doubt begins to creep in.

"If he's going to throw a thousand punches, then I'll block a thousand punches. And that will get him thinking. I'm not going to back up," said Pacquiao. "And the fear and the pressure will make him think more. I'm not going to go backward. I'm going to stay in there. Wherever he goes, I'll cut off the ring. I'll make him fight. I want him to fight for the first time."

Despite being together for only the first time as fighter and head trainer, Clottey and Lenny DeJesus believe they have the recipe to unseat the man who is considered boxing's best performer, pound-for-pound.

"Styles make fights. Manny Pacquiao has fought many a guy, but not a guy the caliber of Joshua Clottey. He's fought guys that have been in wars and made him look good. Not taking nothing fromOscar De La Hoya, because De La Hoya was not the De La Hoya that we're used to or accustomed to," said DeJesus.

"The only guy that made him big was Ricky Hatton, and he stopped Hatton in two rounds. But Hatton has nothing great. He was just a brawler," DeJesus continued.

"The only fight that I think that brought the best out of Pacquiao was the two fights that he foughtJuan Manuel Marquez, and that was a little guy," said DeJesus. "So now, he's facing a real challenge, to be honest with you. This is a real challenge, and you're going to see who Pacquaiua is, and who Joshua is."

And unlike his June loss to Miguel Cotto, whom he bloodied and had nearly out on his feet at times before losing a disputed split-decision, DeJesus said that Clottey won't let Pacquiao off the hook if he has him hurt.

"Everybody is going to see a different Clottey. A motivated type of individual. More focused. He's going to be different in a sense where he's going to throw more punches. We're going to try to corner him. We're going to cut the ring off on him. That's one of my strategies to try to calm down Pacquiao, because is a little energizer battery and he jumps from here to there," said DeJesus.

"We're going to try to cut off the ring. And if Pacquiao is going to run, then he's going to get booed by the public. You know, he's going to have to step and fight," said DeJesus. "That's his game thing from many years back, and if he runs or hide or tries to block punches, people will boo that fight. So I think that this fight is perfect for both of them, because both of them are going to come to fight."

A seven-division titlist and a three-time Fighter Of The Year, Pacquiao is 18-1-2, with 15 knockouts under Four-Time Trainer Of The Year, Freddie Roach, including 11-0, with eight knockouts since March of 2005.

"Manny Pacquiao is a full package. By that I mean he's a guy that comes to fight. He fights every fight as if his life depended on it. But I'm bringing a solid 147-pounder, and a good 147-pounder," said DeJesus of Pacquiao, who has been named Fighter Of The Decade.

"The only thing I'm worried about with my guy is if he doesn't listen. Then we got a problem," said DeJesus. "But if he listens, I think I can pull this fight through and they can crown me the Upset Trainer Of The Year. Freddie Roach has four, I'll probably get one, at least."

Some of DeJesus' confidence comes from a past relationship with Pacquiao and Roach, as does what appears to be a bit of underlying bitterness toward the latter.

For a period of a little more than two years, DeJesus worked as a cut man assisting Roach in Pacquiao's corner.

Among the six fights DeJesus worked were a November, 2003, 11th-round knockout of Marco Antonio Barrera, a May, 2004 draw with Juan Manuel Marquez, an April of 2004 fourth-round knockout of Fahsan 3K Battery, and Pacquiao's March, 2005 loss to Erik Morales.

"Morales was the fifth or sixth one. And that was the last one. He got cut bad, it was a very bad gash. What happened happened, it was a head butt. Not intentional," said DeJesus, who feels that he was unfairly blamed for the loss to Morales.

"I did my best to keep him in the fight, which I did. So instead of getting credit, I got grief from Freddie Roach. He said that I was not a good cut man," said DeJesus. "Things happen for a reason. Here I am again. Against Freddie Roach.
Freddie Roach is a little nervous or leery on that. But I'm going to bring somebody strong, and a solid 147-pounder that's going to try to uncrown the king."

Roach seems equally confident of victory over Clottey, whom he believes does not have enough offense to defeat Pacquiao.

But DeJesus said that not only will Clottey be "Very, very accurate," with his blows, but "Very quick," and, "Very fast," and, "we're going to throw punches with bad intentions."

"That's the only way I'm going to prove our point is to try to stop him by either a good cut or a good knockout. Because the kid has been dropped a couple of times, and, now, he's going to fight a real welterweight," said DeJesus.

"Joshua's a guy who can whack. We're going to be on top of Manny. That's one of the things in my gameplan also. That's what's going to make the fight an interesting fight," said DeJesus. "If they go 12 good rounds, maybe my stock will go up, and my fighter's stock will go up. I think it's going to be a great fight, because a lot of people got me 4-to-1. But that's a good bet, because they've got to be worried, not me."

Author: Lem Satterfield

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