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."