Joshua Clottey remembers when, as a kid growing up in Ghana, he got sick to his stomach after being punched there during a street fight. He started training and got his revenge.
"I beat him and I became a boxer," Clottey said.
Not just any boxer, but one who does not discourage easily.
In December 2006, he challenged Antonio Margarito for his welterweight title, but lost a unanimous decision. Undeterred, Clottey began a five-fight winning streak by winning a wide decision over former lightweight champion Diego Corrales.
In the fifth fight of that streak, Clottey won the vacant welterweight championship with a nine-round technical decision over Zab Judah in August 2008. Clottey then challenged Miguel Cotto for his welterweight title, but lost a close split decision last June.
But again, Clottey is not the sort to hang his head. And a week from today, he will challenge Manny Pacquiao for his welterweight belt at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (HBO pay-per-view).
Not only will Clottey be without his longtime trainer, Godwin Dzanie Kotey, he will be taking on a fighter whose epic rise to stardom has resulted in him being accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Clottey's credo: No problem.
Kotey was not going to be able to get a work visa in time to make the fight, so Clottey decided to use his cut man, Lenny DeJesus, who will be trying to match wits with Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach.
Roach was recently named Trainer of the Year for a record fourth time by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
"It is true," said Clottey, when asked if reports he cried upon hearing Kotey would not be in his corner were accurate. "We have been together for a very long time. If he could get his visa, I would fly him here.
"They are not going to give him his visa and I can't wait for him because I have to get ready to fight and my life is on the line. In my other fights, my cut man, Lenny, was pushing me a lot so I thought I would use him as my trainer."
Clottey's manager, Vinny Scolpino, is not concerned because DeJesus has more than 40 years in boxing.
"Lenny has always been more than a cut man," Scolpino said. "He also trains a lot of fighters. He brings a wealth of experience, he knows the business."
Clottey and Scolpino also have no issue with the accusations and insinuations that have come Pacquiao's way regarding performance-enhancing drugs. Pacquiao has fought in Las Vegas 11 times and has never had a test come back dirty.
But Pacquiao's fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was killed when Pacquiao refused to submit to Olympic-style testing that requires random blood samples and urinalysis.
Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs) said he didn't consider asking Pacquiao for more drug-testing than any state commission requires, meaning urinalysis only.
"I don't want him to do that because I respect him too much," Clottey said. "He is a very nice guy, to be honest with you, and I feel comfortable around him. He is nice and respects everybody and I know where he is from. I don't think Manny Pacquiao is doing that thing.
"If he is doing that thing, he is killing the sport."
Bob Arum, who promotes Clottey and Pacquiao, said if any commission ever requires more than standard urinalysis, Pacquiao will do it. But he would never agree to it as part of a negotiation, which is what happened with Mayweather.
Scolpino is on board with that way of thinking.
"I couldn't agree with Bob more," Scolpino said. "If the commission wants to implement other drug-testing rules, let them implement them. We abide by the rules that are set forth for us, then we move forward.
"Manny is a super champion and we all hope he is doing the right thing. If the commission finds it in their drug-testing - they find it."
Besides, Clottey is not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. He is more the bring-it-on sort. He knows how fortunate he is to have a chance to dethrone boxing's pound-for-pound king. If not for Pacquiao-Mayweather falling apart, Clottey would not be getting this shot.
"A victory would mean very, very more than a lot to me," said Clottey, 32, who these days lives in the Bronx. "That's why I am so happy about this opportunity. He (Pacquiao) 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."
Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) is the favorite. But Arum suggested he wouldn't be surprised at anything that might transpire.
"The more I play it over in my head, I realize how competitive this fight is going to be," Arum said. "Nobody, with any real certainty, can predict this fight. Everybody knows how Manny Pacquiao fights. Everybody knows the angles that he throws punches from.
"Everybody knows that Joshua Clottey is a tremendous defensive fighter and can put a real hurting on an opponent."
Cotto can attest to that.Author: Robert Morales