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Shining A Light On Joshua Clottey

Joshua Clottey is a world-class fighter from Ghana who lives in virtual anonymity in the Bronx. He doesn't have a famous face, and there are plenty of things the public doesn't know about him. Here are 10 of them.

Clottey training in blue shirt

He is one of six former world champion boxers to come from Ghana, an African nation of only 23 million.

The word "Ghana" means "Warrior King" and derives from the Ghana Empire, which lasted from 790 to 1076. Clottey is among those who have continued the warrior tradition, typified by fierce determination and powerful physiques.

He has never been knocked out.

Like most Ghanaian boxers Clottey has a granite chin. In fact, his countrymen are so generally tough that in a combined total of 252 fights, the six Ghanaian world champions have lost by knockout just six times. What also makes Clottey hard to stop is that he fights out of an air-tight defense with his gloves held high by his face. The word out of Pacquiao's camp is that they plan to work his body and break him down. "That won't be a problem for him," says Clottey's manager Vinny Scolpino. "He keeps his back hunched over so that the bottoms of his elbows extend all the way to his hips. Richard Gutierrez, who's a powerful guy, worked the hell out of Joshua's body and it had no effect on him. He's never even been hurt by a punch. When he fought Corrales he walked out of the ring clean; same thing with Margarito, Judah and Cotto. After the Judah fight he went out dancing."

He learned to box in Ghana outdoors on a 20-foot square ring made of concrete. Street fighting in his home city of Accra, where four world champions have come from, is considered a sport.

"I started boxing when I was six years old," Clottey says. "I was a soccer player, but they were fighting in the street in my area. There was this guy beating everybody out there. I say, 'Why is this guy beating everybody like this. I can fight him.' And the coach asked me, 'You never fight before. Why do you want to fight this guy? I said, 'I just feel like fighting him.' And I fight the guy, and the guy kicked my stomach and I vomit. When I vomit I say, 'Oh no, no, no, no. I don't like this; it's too hard to beat this guy.' I started training because of this guy, and I beat him. I beat him and he stopped boxing."

All three of his losses were heartbreakers that he could have won.

His first defeat came in 1999 in a fight marred by controversy. Despite being penalized for two points in the 10th round for an intentional head butt, Clottey entered the 11th ahead on all three scorecards, 96-92 twice, and 95-93. In the 11th, Clottey was warned once more about leading with his head, but he did it again and the referee disqualified him.

His next loss came seven years later in a championship fight with Antonio Margarito. Clottey appeared to have won the first three rounds and was doing well in the 4th when he broke his right hand. He injured his left shortly thereafter, yet continued to give Margarito a hard time. Two of the judges scored it 116-112 for Margarito. The other judge had it 119-108.

His last defeat came in June, a split decision loss to Miguel Cotto. Clottey gave Cotto everything he could handle, and many thought he did enough to win the fight. Clottey was so upset by the decision he said after the fight: "I quit. I'm out of boxing. I'm never fighting again."

He will be Pacquiao's first opponent since Juan Manuel Marquez who is comfortable throwing a right hand in nearly any situation.

Two of Pacquiao's last four fights have been against converted southpaws, Oscar De La Hoya and Cotto. David Diaz is a southpaw and Ricky Hatton, while an orthodox fighter, uses his left hand more frequently than his right.

He lives four blocks from Yankee Stadium and has never been to a ballgame.

"Basically soccer and boxing are his only sports interests," Scolpino says. "He sometimes plays soccer in New York, and always does when goes home." In Ghana, the most popular sport by far is "football." Ghana's other national teams are cricket, tennis and amateur boxing. Basketball has been slowly catching on, but has a long way to go. Baseball is a club sport, and according to the website "Ghana Baseball," its senior national team "boasts of American, Cuban and Japanese trained players. That is why we are a force to reckon with on the continent."

He will be fighting without his longtime trainer Godwin Dzanie Kotey and assistant coach Daniel Clottey.

After the two trainers were denied a visa by the U.S. Embassy in Ghana, Clottey broke camp in January and flew over 5,000 miles to plead with his government for help in getting visas for his trainers. The earliest the U.S. Embassy would grant the visas was two months, which would be after the fight. As a result, Clottey has been training in Florida with his cut man, Lenny DeJesus. "Alloway (Kotey) is the coach I know; he can speak my language to me and make me understand things better. I am disappointed in the US Embassy because now I have to go and do this difficult job with people I don't know. Now everything is on only me."

He's a couch potato who rarely leaves his apartment.

"Joshua doesn't like to go out," Scolpino says. "He spends his time watching DVD movies he buys for his big screen TV. If he goes out, it's just to run or buy groceries at the local bodega."

No southpaw has ever beaten him.

Unlike many orthodox fighters, Clottey isn't thrown off fighting lefties like Pacquiao. "You can see it in his sparring," Scolpino says. "He has no problems with southpaw sparring partners and looks very comfortable in the ring with them."

After making weight, he often enters the ring as a middleweight, weighing 160 pounds or more.

Clottey will probably be the biggest fighter Pacquiao has ever fought, and he has a broad, heavily muscled frame. In Pacquiao's last five fights, beginning with Marquez in 2008, he has entered the ring weighing, 145, 147, 148 1/2, 148 and 149.

... The coach ask me, 'You never fight before. Why do you want to fight this guy? I said, 'I just feel like fighting him.' And I fight the guy, and the guy kicked my stomach and I vomit. When I vomit I say, 'Oh no, no, no, no. I don't like this; it's too hard to beat this guy.'

Posted 12:00 AM | Mar 2, 2010

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