Boxing News Fri, 1 Dec 2006

Clottey gets long-awaited shot at Margarito

It's often said that Antonio Margarito is the most feared welterweight. It's also said that none of the top fighters in the division will go near him, most notably Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But Joshua Clottey begs to differ. The Bronx, N.Y., resident doesn't fear Margarito and cites his four-year pursuit of the WBO champion as proof.

Clottey believes it's Margarito who's been running scared. For more than a year Margarito showed no interest in Clottey or anyone else not named Mayweather.

Throughout that time Mayweather remained steadfast against facing Margarito. Mayweather's primary reason was Margarito lacked sufficient name recognition and had not fought a top-tier opponent.

Promoter Bob Arum disagreed. He said Mayweather simply viewed Margarito as too dangerous. To further make his point, Arum said he offered Mayweather $8 million to fight Margarito, but the pound-for-pound king took less money to face WBC champion Carlos Baldomir. Team Mayweather denies Arum's claim.

After mopping the floor with Baldomir last month, Mayweather accepted an offer from WBC junior middleweight champion Oscar De La Hoya. The two will fight May 5 in what is expected to be the most lucrative non-heavyweight bout ever.

With Mayweather tied up for a while, Margarito was left to seek other opposition. And he didn't have to look far. Clottey was right there to put in another bid.

This time, however, Clottey's play for Margarito was successful. After years of chasing, Clottey gets his shot tomorrow night (Showtime at 9) in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.

But to land the fight, Clottey had to switch promoters. He left Lou DiBella and signed with Arum. Clottey isn't happy with the decision he was forced to make.

"I didn't want to leave Lou," said Clottey, a native of Accra, Ghana. "Lou is a very good promoter and he's been great to me. We have a great relationship. But in order to get this fight I had to sign with Bob Arum. It was the only way.

"This is a dream come true. I was calling Margarito's people everyday ... for four years. I'm not like (Kermit) Cintron. I'm not like any of the other guys he's fought. I'm going to beat Margarito."

Indeed, Clottey isn't like anyone Margarito has faced previously. Unlike Cintron, the current IBF titleholder who's the most recognizable fighter on Margarito's r?sum?, Clottey isn't one-dimensional.
Source: Star Ledger