We've discussed, to a nauseating degree, the negotiating saga which took down the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. Some will blame Mayweather for putting onerous PED testing demands upon Pacquiao, and thus attach blame upon Floyd by and large for the megamatch's inability to achieve liftoff. Others think Pacquiao sunk the promotion by not agreeing to undergo random PED testing.
Happily, fight fans will be able to move beyond the PED issue, and see Pacquiao in action, on March 13 in Dallas. His foe on this night will be Ghanian Joshua Clottey, a durable B-plus level welterweight who hasn't been able to get over the hump when asked to perform against A-level pugilists. Clottey sees this fight as his promised land bout, and wasn't going to make Pacquiao jump through hoops, and possibly lose his chance at a career-best payday, which should total more than $3 million. On a conference call Thursday, Clottey was asked about the PED/testing issue, and if he believes Pacquiao uses or has used PEDs.
“I don't want to do that (get into the does he or doesn't use PEDs issue),” Clottey said. “I respect him so much. I feel comfortable around him. He's respectful of everybody. I don't think he (uses PEDs). I believe him, he's not doing that.”
I'm with Clottey; a man shouldn't be smeared without solid evidence, beyond speculation, so I applaud Clottey for not gumming up the works.
On the call, Bob Arum said that PEDs shouldn't be a topic for negotiations, that PED usage should be a commission matter. I'm in concurrence with Arum on this matter. “Go before the commission, let the commissioners decide, that's what they're getting paid,” he said. Clottey manager Vinny Scolpino said he wasn't going to make PED stink, and with the purse potential here, he'd be a moron, frankly, to have done so.
One matter that stands out for me going in to this fight is the trainer question for Clottey. He parted ways with Kwame Asante, who has been with him during the meatieast years as a pro, over money after the Miguel Cotto fight. He tried to reunite with his first pro trainer, Godwin Kotey, but the Ghanian Kotey has been denied a US visa. So Clottey will be trained and seconded by Lenny DeJesus, a part-time locksmith who is best known for being a cutman. Clottey has been affected by the uncertainty; last month he went to Ghana to try and help Kotey get a visa, and broke down and wept when speaking to press about the frustration in dealing with bureaucratic red tape. I asked Clottey if the account that had him weeping was true. “It's true,” he answered. He said he and Kotey had a longstanding bond that would've served him well against Pacquiao, but he promised that he'll be ready to rumble come fight night, no matter who is training him.
My take: this matters, big-time. Come fight-night, Freddie Roach will be providing strategic and tactical input, against a man, Lenny the Locksmith, who is not, frankly, regarded as an A level trainer. He has put in his time in the sport, about 40 years worth, but hasn't ascended to the top tier of tutors. I think Clottey will be left to his own devices, to an extent, on March 13, and this will detract mightily from the African's chances at springing an upset.
Arum talked about the venue and what sort of crowd might show up. The promoter said the stadium is set up for 45,000 fans and that we're “well on our way” to achieving a sellout. He hammered home that boxing isn't a niche sport, and thinks that putting fights in mega-venues signals to fans that the game is alive and thriving.
Arum also touched on the Antonio Margarito matter. Arum said that he thought a decision after a hearing for Margarito re-licensing in Texas would have dragged on, and made the suspended fighter's appearance on the card impossible, so he decided to shift gears, and have Margarito appear instead May 8 in Mexico. He also took the opportunity to slap at Al Haymon, the common ingredient in arduous negotiations with Arum, first with Paul Williams-Kelly Pavlik, and then with Mayweather-Pacquiao. He reiterated that he thinks Team Mayweather never wanted a fight with Pacquiao, and deliberately shot down the matchup.
Arum said it's possible Clottey beats Pacman, and Mosley beats Mayweather, and if so, life will go on. “That's what makes boxing interesting,” he said, while conceding both bouts are consollation prizes of a sort. “I believe this is Manny Pacquiao's toughest fight,” the promoter said.