pic Chris Farina
By Jason Pribila: When we last saw welterweight contender Joshua Clottey, he was on the short end of a split decision loss to Miguel Cotto in his bid to win the WBO welterweight title. It was a fight that could have gone either way, but while many felt Clottey deserved the decision, most agreed that his lack of aggression down the stretch cost him the bout and title. Cotto went on to face Manny Pacquiao in 2009’s richest bout, and Clottey was set to face Shane Mosley on December 26, on HBO. When the “Network of Champions” tightened their holiday purse strings, Clottey was left out in the cold.
Soon wheels were in motion to match the best of the welterweight division and sport during the first quarter of 2010. Shane Mosley agreed to meet Andre Berto in a unification bout, and the rest of the sports world waited for Pacquiao and Mayweather to iron out the pesky drug testing wrinkle and announce the richest bout in boxing history. The official announcement would be coming any day. Surely, no one could walk away from that much money.
Clottey, the odd man out, was offered a stay-busy fight on the premiere of his promoter’s “Top Rank Live” series. An offer he eventually refused. Clottey seemed to be heading toward a career sabbatical when the unthinkable happened; Bob Arum announced that “Pacquiao-Mayweather is dead”.
At this point even the most optimistic fight fan believed that although the latest, “fight to save boxing” was on life support, it would eventually be revived. That was until a jubilant Joshua Clottey effectively pulled the plug by agreeing to face Pacquiao.
Clottey’s gain was boxing’s loss.
While no one could blame Clottey for jumping at a career making opportunity, the simple fact was that his name was not Mayweather. He was now in the same no-win situation as the first guy to date one’s divorced parent. He seems to be a good guy, and Mom’s happy; but he is just not Dad.
When the headlines about boxing’s latest “black eye” finally died down, most reluctantly admitted that Pacquiao – Clottey was a pretty good consolation prize.
Bob Arum echoed those sentiments during Thursday’s Media Conference Call.
“Manny Pacquiao is the most exciting fighter in the world today. We couldn’t find a more competitive challenger than Joshua Clottey.”
“Whoever wins this fight,” Arum continued, “people will say this is the greatest fight Manny Pacquiao has ever been in. Josh Clottey is the toughest test for this phenomenal “Fighter of the Decade”.
Clottey, while confident in his abilities, could not help but to echo the praise given to his opponent.
“If I beat Manny Pacquiao I’ll be so happy because he’s the best fighter out there. He is giving me a chance,” Clottey said. “If I beat him, I’ll be on top of the world. The boxing world will respect me so much.
“I am thankful for this opportunity. This is a gift from God.”
Clottey’s opportunity was made possible when Team Pacquaio refused to give in to the blood testing demands presented by Team Mayweather. Clottey confirmed that the recent allegations against Pacquiao did not influence him to seek any additional testing.
“I respect him too much. He’s a very nice guy and I feel comfortable around him. I don’t think Manny Pacquaio do that thing.”
While “Pacquiao and Clottey” headline “The Event”, it is possible that neither will be the topic of post fight water cooler talk. While the disappointing undercard proves that not everything is bigger in Texas, the pugilists may play second fiddle to the venue where they will perform.
Dallas Cowboys Stadium will play host to its first prize fight. Cowboys Owner, Jerry Jones boasts that a 1.2 billion dollar price tag bought him the most technologically advanced entertainment venue in the world. Top Rank President, Bob Arum agrees.
“There is no stadium or arena in the entire world like Cowboys Stadium. What makes the event super exciting is the screen that goes from one 20 yard line to the other. The screen will be 30 feet above the ring,” Arum explained, “so every replay and every punch in the fight will be seen on that screen.”
“When I saw the Cowboys – Eagles game,” Arum continued, “I found myself watching the game on the screen rather than the field. The picture is so good. Until you are there, it is difficult to describe the experience.”
For many years Arum has attempted to land a major fight in a stadium. He now not only found a venue, but also a promotional partner in Jones who is willing to spend his own money to bring major fights to his stadium. His initial investment is poised to pay off due in large part to the regions love for boxing fueled by its large Latino population.
The venue’s inaugural season has already seen it set records for a Cowboys game (110,000) and a NBA All-Star Game (85,000). It has now been reconfigured to seat 45,000 for the fight, which will guarantee everyone a great view of the action in the ring and on the screen. Arum is confident that all the tickets will be sold by fight night.
“Right now we’re on target to sell the 45,000 seats and we’ll be happy when we do that,” Arum said. “We sold 350 tickets (Wednesday) and are on target of doing that today.”