95

Clottey not losing sleep over fight with Pacquiao

Wed, 10 Mar 2010 Source: dallasnews.com

▶ Click Here for Full AFCON Coverage ◀

RAPEVINE – The story goes that Manny Pacquiao's entourage is so big, so all-encompassing, the lunatic fringe competes to determine who gets to sleep at the foot of his bed each night.

Meanwhile, four days before the biggest fight of his life, Joshua Clottey is supported by a manager, a trainer/locksmith and two bruisers from back home in Ghana.

No one argues over the sleeping arrangements. Clottey sleeps quite peacefully, in fact.

"If I dream about the fight," he says, "I won. Twice."

When he awoke, he was no longer dreaming. A thoughtful man, he knows what this welterweight title fight represents for both parties. Pacquiao, 31, is, pound-for-pound, the world's best fighter, the man who retired Oscar De La Hoya, the automaton that Floyd Mayweather Jr. wanted no part of, which is why Clottey is here in his place, running the hallways of the Gaylord Texan like a conventioneer late for an elevator.

Besides a title shot which started in Vegas at 6-to-1 odds, Clottey, 32, gets this: a $1.5 million check and a chance for double that amount from pay-per-view. No matter what happens Saturday in front of 40,000 out at JerryWorld, the purse will spend nicely in Ghana.

He'll give it a go, too. No one doubts it, especially the promoter, Bob Arum, which is another reason Clottey is here. Like a lot of fighters from Africa, he has no reverse. Unfortunately, he's also short on forward gears.

Pacquiao is faster, quicker and more clever. His trainer, Freddie Roach, predicts a knockout. If so, it would be a first for Clottey, who resents Roach's presumptuousness.

No one knows what will happen Saturday, he says. Even so, he probably doesn't want it to go 12 rounds. The odds in a decision tend to tilt in favor of the guy with the private jet and TV appearances and potential to afford everyone another big payday.

Not that any of the above seems to bother Clottey.

"If the judges are wrong," he says, "I don't mind."

You don't care if they get it wrong?

"When you come out safe," he says, "is the best thing in boxing."

From a practical standpoint, it's hard to argue, especially when your opponent has 38 knockouts in his 50 victories.

Still, Pacquiao isn't taking Clottey lightly. The record is impressive: 35-3, with 21 knockouts. Pacquiao has studied hours and hours of video.

And as for Clottey's preparation?

"I never watch tape," he says. "Never watch nothing. I know what he's gonna do.

"He's going to throw a lot of punches."

What Clottey has in mind for this fight is hard to say. His trainer, Godwin Kotey, is back in Ghana, unable to obtain a visa. Clottey went back to get him in January and couldn't. He cried, and it didn't help.

And that means Lenny DeJesus, 64, the former cut man and erstwhile locksmith, moves up in the pecking order.

"We'll see how it goes," Clottey says. "If I win, Lenny's gonna be the man."

And if he doesn't, well, worse things have happened, and none of it earned him $1.5 million plus royalties. His first fight, at age 6, a kid hit him so hard he threw up. He's been knocked down only once as a pro. Known for pressing the issue, he absorbs a lot of punches.

A tough opponent is important in a match like this. If you can't get a fight of the century, you'd at least like it to last more than 15 minutes.

A reporter from the Philippines, Pacquiao's home, asks Clottey if he has a strong chin.

"We Africans always have a good chin," he says, smiling. "We take a lot of punches, but we don't feel pain."

Of course, there's always a first time. A little later, away from the cameras, the thought gives him pause. He says he's wondered if Pacquiao's punches might hurt.

"If they do," he says, "then I have a lot to tell the world."

Until then, Joshua, try not to think about it. And sweet dreams.

Source: dallasnews.com