Joshua Clottey baptized former lightweight monster Diego Corrales into the welterweight division with two knockdowns and a battering on Saturday.
After terrorizing the lightweight division for years Corrales ventured to the 147-pound territory in Springfield, Missouri and got a taste of what it feels like to meet a monster in his own right, Clottey, who won a wide10-round unanimous decision.
Clottey had just proven his mettle by trading blows with the formidable Antonio Margarito for the WBO welterweight title. Though the African fighter fell short, it opened the eyes of fellow welterweights.
But not Chico.
Corrales had been forced to leap to the welterweight division after failing to make the 135-pound lightweight limit, and even finding it hard to make the 140-pound junior welterweight limit. So he jumped two weight divisions and found himself running into the Clottey granite mountain at full-speed.
From round one, Clottey showed superior hand speed and striking power from long range-that forced Corrales to take the fight inside where he is accustomed. It also enabled him to smother some of the Ghana fighter’s fearsome blows.
“He was much faster from the outside than I thought he was,” said Corrales (40-5, 33 KOs). “I thought I was going to out box him.”
After round two, Corrales fought with forehead touching forehead and fired blows to the head and body, but nothing seemed to faze Clottey. For eight rounds the pair fought a phone booth war that a blind man could have told you was won by the African’s heavier sounding punches.
“My conditioning was very good,” Clottey (31-2, 20 KOs) said. “I knew I was going to get him.”
In the ninth round, a series of punches floored Corrales and looked like it would finish him for the knockout, but he rose to his feet with astonishing clarity.
In the 10th and final round, Clottey dropped Corrales with a perfect right hand and once again Corrales rose to beat the count. Then he attempted to duplicate his come-from-behind win over Jose Luis Castillo in 2005. It wasn’t to happen. The judges scored it 100-87, 98-89, 97-90 for Clottey.
“I felt fine,” Corrales said. “I got hit with some good shots. My mistake.”
Perhaps the mistake was fighting the most dangerous welterweight without a world title when he signed to meet Clottey.
Promoter Gary Shaw said they will discuss whether Corrales’s future lies at welterweight or junior welterweight.
Clottey feels Corrales is welterweight capable.
“He is a very good fighter…he can stay with the welterweights,” Clottey said.
Though Corrales seemed to land more punches than Clottey, the more punishing variety belonged to the African fighter.
Corrales’ jaw seemed swollen and he confessed it might be broken, but his spirit was not.
“I’m going to keep on pushing on,” Corrales said. “I’m going to do it again.”
All Clottey wants is another chance at the world title.
“I want all the champions. Anybody who’s got a title,” he said.