When Ghana’s Joshua Clottey mounts the ring on Saturday March 13th in arguably one of his biggest fights against Manny Pacquiao, it will raise the number of his record to 36, and for most boxing pundits that is really an impressive record.
Especially because he has a decent record with 20 knockouts, so far. However, the question on the lips of most boxing lovers is; does he have the fire power to stop Manny Pacquiao who has been in such a devastating form, reducing British pride Ricky Hatton to rubbles and that of Miguel Cotto, the man who beat the 32 year old Ghanaian for his welterweight belt last June.
Clottey, known by his fans as the hitter, is not alarmed by what Pacquiao can do in the ring. After all he is just a boxer like himself, he told boxing writer Lem Satterfield in a recent interview.
"Manny Pacquiao is a human being, like everyone else. He's just a really good fighter who is out there now who is No. 1 now," said Clottey. "I don't know how he's coming to fight me, but I can tell you that I'm a different fighter altogether than anyone else that he's faced. I'm a really difficult fighter, you see."
Pacquiao, a left handed or southpaw as they say in boxing, is said to have accumulated enough fire power and speed since moving up weight, and had gone 11-0, with eight knockouts since his last loss by unanimous decision to Erik Morales in March 2005 as a super featherweight (130 pounds).
He has since stopped his last four opponents in such devastating circumstance, David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and, Miguel Cotto.
Clottey is however refusing to be added to the list and as he mount the ring at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on March 13, he will also be excited about one thing; that, unlike previous fighters such as Cotto and De La Hoya who had fought Pacquiao and lost, he will be allowed to fight the 147-pound weight limit rather than, according to Satterfield, being contracted by Pacquiao to fight at catch weights of 145 pounds like Cotto and De La Hoya.
"It is good for me to be at 147. I'm a very big welterweight, so it's not really easy to make 147. I'm going to be big," said Clottey, beginning to warm up. "But I'm going in there and taking it like, 'I'm just going to go in there and do my thing and make people happy.'"
Ironically Clottey did not enjoy such a move in weight since his last fight against Cotto, whom most boxing experts say appeared dazed almost anytime he received a punch from Clottey but the Ghanaian failed to take advantage and allowed him to take away his belt.
He has since buried that disappointment behind him and against Pacquiao he is certain the past mistakes will not be repeated.
"I don't throw punches that get blocked. I don't respect that. I want to connect good. After the fight, Cotto's face showed who won and who lost. That's the way I'm coming to fight Manny Pacquiao."
For Clottey a win against Pacquiao will not amount to an upset but a victory with one of the most respected boxers in the welterweight division.
"I've never left the ring feeling like I lost. I feel like I'm undefeated. If I win this fight against Manny Pacquiao, I will never feel like I beat the best fighter in the world."
"I will feel like I had a fight with Manny Pacquiao, the best fighter out there, and I won," he said. "So even if I beat Pacquaio, and people talk about it like it's a big upset, I'll say, 'It's not an upset, but a win.'"
Clottey has been training in Florida with a new trainer DeJesus when his Ghanaian trainer could not get the entry visa, and was optimistic his plans are turning out well.
"Today, I sparred 10 rounds with four-minute rounds and a 30-second rest in between. I'm not really even tired after I'm finished," said Clottey. "I'm in shape. I want to prove to the whole world that this is a fight that I can win, and that they should be careful not to write me off."
Clottey has never been stopped. His resiliency and durability are not in dispute, and against Pacquiao on Saturday the question that is still waiting to be answered is when the smoke of battle has been cleared. Will Clottey be the man to call off the bluff of Pacquiao?