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Articles of 2005

For Joshua “Satan” Clottey, Career Progress Remains A Devilish Task



When Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley both announced their return to the welterweight division, fight fans began to buzz about the newfound potential in the weight class. Having dried up ever since the departure of the aforementioned, as well as Vernon Forrest and Ricardo Mayorga, the division once again returned to primetime status as fight fans around the globe rattled off potential matchups among the division’s elite.

Many clamored for a Zab Judah title defense against De La Hoya. Perhaps he could secure a superfight with Mosley, as the two have been exchanging insults. Antonio Margarito became a major player when he forced Kermit Cintron into submission in the fifth round of their April showdown.

Former junior welterweight champion Sharmba Mitchell threw his hat into the ring as well, announcing a move up from 140. Some even hoped Forrest and Cory Spinks would stick around, and perhaps Mayorga would find a way to return to the division that made him famous.

One name that seems to be left out of the mix is Joshua “Satan” Clottey. The top fighters don’t mention him, and even several hardcore fans barely recognize his name. What he should be known as is the division’s greatest threat. Instead, he is currently best known as “the better Clottey,” as his brother Emmanuel is also a prizefighter. So far, the accolades have been of the “seen but not heard” variety.

Simply put, his American dream has been nothing but a hellish nightmare to date.

Having followed in the footsteps of his older brother Emmanuel, who arrived in the states three years prior, Joshua believed that joining his brother would result in more exposure for his career. At the time, he was 23-1 (16 KOs), the lone loss being the result of a disqualification against Carlos Baldomir in 1999.

Six years later, Baldomir now serves as mandatory challenger to Judah’s WBC title. The closest Joshua has come to any world champion is crossing paths with Zab while training at the famed Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, NY.

Clottey patiently waits for a world title shot. The problem is getting there. So far, very few welterweights have been cooperative. Joshua remains anonymous as a result. The difference now is that he refuses to remain silent.

“I don’t understand why my promoter (DiBella Entertainment) can’t get me any fights,” vents a discouraged Clottey (26-1, 1 NC, 18 KOs), wondering when his next fight will happen. “They tell me that nobody wants to fight me, but the problem is nobody knows me. All I do is go to the gym, train, and then listen to different excuses for why I’m constantly avoided.”

The most recent example occurred two weeks ago. Clottey was promised a slot on the Kevin McBride – Mike Tyson June 11 pay-per-view card in Washington D.C. His role was to welcome Mitchell to the welterweight division. It didn’t matter that he had to accept short money to secure the fight; all he wanted was the opportunity.

“My man Jose (Nunez, Joshua’s manager) worked very hard to secure that fight,” says Clottey. “The moment I signed a contract with Jose, he did everything he could to get me a big time date. He told me I would either fight on July 16 (on the Bernard Hopkins-Jermain Taylor PPV card) or on the Tyson card. He kept his word, because he got me a contract to fight Sharmba.”

He would also secure Joshua his highest payday to date, $20,000. Sharmba stood to make much more, but Clottey understood why he had to accept less; the risk had to be worth the reward.

Clottey then signed the bout agreement, accepting the date and the purse. All that was left was for Mitchell to sign the bout agreement, and the fight was on. Instead, Mitchell backed out of the deal and decided Joshua “wasn’t worth his time.” Most in the industry translate such a phrase as “he’s too big of a risk for my first fight in a new weight.”

In a perfect world, Mitchell would be shown the door, and a new opponent would be sought for Clottey. With the boxing world being anything but perfect, Sharmba remained on the card. For the promoter (Raging Promotions), it was all about geography and notoriety. Sharmba is a former world champion from the D.C. area, therefore more “deserving” of a slot on the card. Clottey understood that part, even if he didn’t agree with it. What he doesn’t understand to this day is why his promoter remained a part of the card once Joshua was dropped.

“I’m saying, that’s why I don’t respect (DiBella). His job as a promoter is to get me fights. When one guy ducks me, he should have been in there demanding that I stay on the card for the money I agreed to. Instead, I get offered nothing, and Lou still gets paid. That’s not right.”

To his credit, Lou called Mitchell on his actions the moment the bout was scrapped. Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, DiBella blasted Mitchell for his cowardly act and for going back on his word. Where he went wrong, in the opinion of Team Clottey (and this writer), is when he accepted a consolation prize and asked Joshua to do the same.

DiBella’s consolation prize would come when Chris Smith was named as the substitute opponent of choice for Mitchell. Smith had entered 2005 as a highly touted undefeated welterweight prospect. He managed to remain unbeaten for an entire month, before getting exposed against David Estrada on ShoBox. Barely winning a round before suffering an eleventh-round stoppage, most began to write-off Smith as yet another never-will-be. Apparently, he looked bad enough to gain approval as an opponent on a high-profile pay-per-view card.

What Clottey was asked to accept paled in comparison.

“I signed to fight Sharmba for $20,000,” explains Clottey. “I wasn’t even happy with the money, but Jose told me that it was a wise investment. Being that I was willing to accept the fight, Lou should have at least offered me the same money to fight on another card. Instead he comes at me with some bull about fighting in the city for nothing and no TV. What kind of cr** is that?”

The card to which he refers was a slot on DiBella’s June 9 “Broadway Boxing” show in New York City. Clottey made his stateside debut in that series, stopping Jeffrey Hill in six rounds in November 2003. He has a hard time accepting the fact that his career has not progressed since then. An offer of $5,000 and no television (aside from a delayed broadcast on MSG Network) didn’t help much. Frustrated, Clottey declined, instead demanding DiBella Entertainment to release him from his contract.

As this goes to print, such a move is being negotiated between DiBella and Nunez. Both want what’s best for Joshua and also understand why he is constantly avoided by boxing’s best.

“If Joshua wants to leave, that’s up to him, and I won’t hold him back,” says DiBella. “But I’m not giving him up for free, and I also won’t accept his claim that I’ve done nothing for his career. When he came to the states, nobody ever heard of this kid. I was able to secure him a top five ranking (in the WBC) in only four fights. Considering who and where he’s fought, I’d say that I did my job. Of course I’d love to get him bigger fights, and it bothers me that nobody wants to fight him. But Joshua also needs to understand his worth.”

Nunez agrees … to an extent.

“I’ve made it clear to Lou, and want it stated for the record, that I like doing business with him,” insists Nunez. “I was hoping that we can all work something out and Joshua stays with DiBella. But Josh doesn’t want that, and I can’t blame him. I respect the fact that he has a world ranking and Lou was a big help in getting him there. But Joshua hasn’t been very active since signing with DiBella. Not saying that it’s Lou’s fault, but let’s be honest. It’s been almost two years and Joshua is still best-known as Emmanuel’s younger brother. We need a big fight to change that, and that just doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon.”

DiBella tried, as he secured Clottey a slot on a February ESPN2 show. The timing appeared to be a stroke of luck. The card was originally intended as a showcase for Kermit Cintron and Antonio Margarito, who were taking on separate tune-ups in anticipation of their April pay-per-view showdown. When Cintron suffered an injury, Margarito was promoted to the main event. Clottey received an upgrade to televised co-feature against Steve Martinez.

Unfortunately, Joshua’s fifteen minutes of fame didn’t even last that long. An inadvertent headbutt in round two produced a cut over Martinez’s eye. The ringside physician ruled the cut too severe for the action to continue, and the bout was declared a no-contest. The brief encounter remains the only action Clottey has seen in the ring in this calendar year. Unless you train in Gleason’s Gym, or live in Clottey’s neighborhood, chances are you won’t be seeing him anytime soon.

“This is what makes it hard for me to respect someone like DiBella” Clottey insists. “I stay in the gym because I want to stay in shape. I love training; I train every day, whether I’m fighting or not. Lately, all I’ve been doing is train. I need to fight, but not for him. Hopefully Jose can buy me out of my contract and we can go to a promoter who will handle my career the right way.”

If DiBella gets his way, he will receive a handsome ransom for Clottey’s release. Otherwise, Joshua’s career will remain stuck in neutral.

“I don’t want to make this personal. I like Joshua, and his brother, and only want what’s best for his career,” says DiBella. “But if he’s going to turn down fights, then he’s going to be on the sidelines for a long time. Jose and I discussed the numbers, so the ball is in his court. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help Joshua’s career move along. If he will accept the fights I can offer him until something big comes along, then great. Otherwise, he can sit on the sideline as long as he wants for all I care. He’s only hurting himself in the long run.”

Out of respect for all parties, the financial terms of the promotional contract between Clottey and DBE will remain undisclosed. What can be revealed is that Joshua has five fights left, as DiBella is to deliver three fights per year until October 2006. All were hoping that Clottey would be in contention for a world title by then, if not already a world champion. Lately, Clottey just wants to know that he can support his family.

“Right now, we’re starving,” exclaims Clottey. “I’m tired of knowing that my training sessions are the only action I get to see in the ring. I’m tired of leaving the gym every day wondering how I can afford to keep supporting my family. There’s so much going on at welterweight right now, and I’m not a part of it. There are fighters in the division who have made $20 million and more for one fight. I was willing to accept $20,000 just to get my name out there. All I ask is for the opportunity now to make money later. Without one, the other can’t happen. I don’t want to sound greedy, but I know I deserve better.”

Articles of 2005

In Boxing News: Floyd Mayweather An All-Time Great, Valuev & More



A Shot of Boxing on the Last Day of the Year

The Guardian reports that talks have already taken place between Nicolay Valuev‘s co-promoters – Don King and Wilfried Sauerland – and Danny Williams‘ promoter Frank Warren for Nicolay Valuev to face Danny Williams. I’d suggest Danny Williams needs to worry about Matt Skelton (who Williams is reportedly scheduled to fight in February) before he entertains notions of facing the Beast From The East.

The Mirror in the UK looks forward to a big year in boxing for 2006. The Mirror considers what the future might bring for Joe Calzaghe, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton, among others.

The Parksville Qualicum News has an interesting column on the travails of former Canadian Super Middleweight title holder Mark Woolnough. Woolnough’s career turned controversial – as widely reported in the Canadian press – at the beginning of this year when Woolnough and four other men were charged with manslaughter and assault after a fight outside a Parksville nightclub. The case returns to court next month. It’s an interesting read, as Woolnough is still looking to the future with hope.

Our own Marc Lichtenfeld provides plenty of food for thought with his Top Ten Wish List for boxing in the New Year. There’s plenty of good stuff here, but what really jumped out for me is Lichtenfeld’s opinion that a win over Zab Judah could have Floyd Mayweather knocking on the door of all-time great status. Seems to me this might be jumping the gun a little. Or is Marc right? Will it soon be time to call Floyd Mayweather Jr. an all-time great?

(More Boxing News Links at

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Articles of 2005

ShoBox Friday Night Fights




Hot bantamweight prospect Raul “The Cobra” Martinez heads back to Chicago next Friday night as he is featured in the co-main event of SHOBOX “THE NEW GENERATION,” an action packed evening of professional boxing presented by Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions,’ HOME OF THE BEST IN CHICAGO BOXING, Kathy Duva’s Main Events Inc., along with Miller Lite and TCF Bank.

The two-time national amateur champion sporting a perfect 12-0 record with 9 knockouts, six of which have come in the first round,  will take on Colombian Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 13-1 (8 KOs) in a scheduled eight round bout.

Speaking after a training session at his home gym in Georgetown, Texas, Martinez said, “I’m truly looking forward to returning to Chicago. The fans were terrific in September, they were very supportive from the start of the fight,” an internationally televised first round knockout of Miguel Martinez on September 16th at the Aragon Ballroom.

Regarding his upcoming fight with Ledesma, “The Cobra” said, “I haven’t seen him fight, although I understand he’s fought at higher weights and will be naturally bigger than me. I’ve had great training for this fight and feel very confident. I really haven’t left the gym in months, just taking off Sunday’s and even then I get my running in. My thinking is that fights are won in the gym and complete preparation is the key.”

When asked about his being mentioned by Dan Rafael, ESPN’s boxing writer as one of the top prospect’s in the boxing world the 23-year-old San Antonio native said, ‘It’s a great compliment, but I still have much work to do. I want to be a champion for Main Events like Fernando Vargas and Arturo Gatti. But like Fernando said while he was in town, ‘be patient, work hard and your time will come.’”

Finishing the conversation, Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to starting out this year with a bang. I might have a couple less fights than the seven I had in 2005, but I’m looking to stepping up the competition, move up to ten-rounders and climb in the rankings.”

Headlining the evening is a ten-round welterweight showdown between boxing’s hottest prospect, unbeaten Joel Julio of Monteria, Columbia, and Ugandan native Roberto “The Doctor” Kamya. Julio, turning 21 years old the day before the fight, is 25-0 with 22 knockouts, twelve of which have come in the first two rounds. Kamya, now fighting out of West Palm Beach, Florida is 15-5 with four knockouts.

Tickets, starting at $30, are on sale in advance by calling 312-226-5800. Cicero Stadium is located at 1909 S. Laramie, at the corner of 19th and Laramie, just ten minutes south of the Eisenhower Expressway and ten minutes north of the Stevenson Expressway. Doors for this evening will open at 6pm with the first bell at 7pm.

The full bout lineup for the evening is:

Joel Julio vs. Roberto Kamya, ten rounds, welterweights

Raul Martinez vs. Andres Ledesma, eight rounds, bantamweights

Miguel Hernandez vs. Butch Hajicek, eight rounds, middleweights

David Pareja vs. Derek Andrews, eight rounds, light heavyweights

Mike Gonzales vs. Tony Kinney, four rounds, lightweights

Omar Reyes vs. Luis Navarro, five rounds, featherweights

Reynaldo Reyes vs. Ricardo Swift, four rounds, middleweights

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Articles of 2005

Pick ‘Em: Plenty of Big Upcoming Fights in ’06



Here’s the early call on many top matches scheduled for the first half of 2006: Happy New Year!

As the new calendar dawns, there are already a considerable amount of premium bouts on the horizon. Things don’t look to be bogged down by undetermined championships next year. In many cases the scheduled face-offs involve the best fighters in the division, or at least close enough for general bragging rights. If anybody else with proper qualifications signs up to force the issue, all the better.

It can be argued that some pairings could have taken place within a more optimal timeframe, or that some headliners carry distracting baggage, but there are certainly enough heavy hitters on deck. That nobody can deny.

It doesn’t matter whether one considers the proverbial glass half empty or half full; there’s still the same amount of juice in the vessel. It’s nice to know that even with a high number of cancellations, there will still be plenty of important contenders on tap.

With elite fighters in weight divisions from top to bottom on the agenda, it’s an equivalent to what fans in more mainstream sports expect in a consistent championship format.

Baseball fans can almost always count on a World Series. Some hoops fanatics say too much attention to playoffs distracts unmotivated NBA teams during their regular season. In college, they project Sweet Sixteens. Football fans know there’s always a Super Bowl ahead to raise advertising dollars and test the USA’s halftime morals.

So too, there is method in boxing’s current madness.

The midnight crystal ball hasn’t even been unveiled in Times Square and there are already a number of potential thrillers scheduled. Most feature contrasting personalities that almost guarantee going along for the ride will be worthwhile. Any subsequent drops will probably be cheered.

Don King jumps right out of the auld lang gate with a January 7th Showtime card featuring Zab Judah against Carlos Baldomir and Jean-Marc Mormeck in a cruiserweight unification against O’Neil Bell.

It will be the upset of the year, bar none, if Baldomir can tip the applecart before Judah gets to his scheduled super-showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Meanwhile, Mormeck is emerging and should keep on rolling against Bell, who can expose him if he’s not for real.

The proverbial Big Bang starts with a January 21st rematch of one of the finest fights of ‘05, when Erik Morales goes against Manny Pacquaio for the second time on HBO pay per view. The fact that Morales was upset by Zahir Raheem after beating Pacquaio was no real loss in box-office luster. Artful Raheem will get a spot on the undercard and hope his patience is rewarded.

Everyone figures Morales and Pacquaio will pick up where they left off. Like the first time, the rematch is a pick’em contest. Management distractions and glove restrictions cited as Pacquaio’s previous problems won’t matter this time. The two are very evenly matched and their styles will make for another whapathon. It could come down to corners, where Freddie Roach gets the edge since Morales will have a new trainer for the first time since replacing his father after the Raheem lesson.

February features four of the game’s most enduring attractions, in a pair of crucial matchups.

First up, Showtime presents the Jose Luis Castillo – Diego Corrales tiebreaker from El Paso on Feb 4th. This is another pick ‘em pair, barring any sideshow. In boxing that disclaimer may be a stretch, since the sideshow is part of the act and the charm.

As far as action inside the strands goes, every round these guys have fought has been great. There’s no reason to think that pattern won’t continue. Regarding the result, Castillo keeps the pressure on as he did in the second fight, but he’ll walk into trouble from a more reserved Corrales. We still don’t know which coin to flip.

February also holds a better late than never affair between two perennial favorites as Shane Mosley collides with Fernando Vargas on the 25th.  This fight could lead to a winning ticket in the Golden Boy sweepstakes for a fall bonanza against Oscar De La Hoya.

Vargas has been in tougher recently, based on comparable strength of opposition stats, but he’s seen little action. What weight they enter the ring at may have a lot to do with the result. If Vargas has to struggle at the scale, Mosley might have the battle in the bag after round nine.

It’s hard to imagine Mosley getting stopped early, but Vargas doesn’t have to hurt him, he just has to knock him down three times. With natural size, he may be able to do just that, but Mosley would have to box uncharacteristically flat.

Unless Mosley decides to heed the crowd, the most likely scenario is that Shane plays it safe, picks a few shots, and stays away enough to capture a comfortable, dull decision. An unbowed Vargas maintains his fan base but not his bettors.

March both comes in and goes out as a lion.

On March 4th Joe Calzaghe welcomes Jeff Lacy to Manchester UK for what may be the biggest blowout of the headlining bunch. Calzaghe gets the chance to prove his considerable home-based reputation once and for all, but if Lacy creams him as we expect, that glossy record will be severely tarnished.

All Calzaghe has to do is make a respectable stand, but that’s no small task against the rising Lacy. A motivated Calzaghe, songs of England ringing in his ears, could pull a big surprise if he can exploit Lacy’s relatively limited technical development, but that’s a longshot indeed.

It looks like Lacy can get by on power alone. He could soon emerge as a pound-for-pound leader. Old Joe’s hometown advantage will last about two left hooks.

March 11th has the Ides of history to beware for at least one old lion, with farewell (we’ll see) fireworks featuring Roy Jones Jr. against Bernard Hopkins. Less than two years ago they were considered untouchable all time greats. Now between them they’ve lost five in a row.

This goodbye fight is contracted at light heavyweight, for what seems like an oldies night. Hopkins is the senior at age 41 to Jones’s 37, but Roy seems more the grandpa figure, last seen hanging on against Antonio Tarver. Youth, as it were here, will prevail.

This bout was signed quickly as each principal, usually sticklers for favorable contract clauses, agreed to parity in a demonstration of businessman first and fighter second. They may both expect easy marks. How much the boys have left by the time they get down to business remains to be seen. The history books will show this as a climactic career bout between Hall of Famers.

At 175 pounds, Hopkins may be in for rude awakening. Jones may have been more thoroughly outfought recently, but he was rumbling with bigger, tougher men than Jermain Taylor or Howard Eastman. Respectable as he is, Taylor still falls short of the level of Tarver, at least for now. The difference is still fifteen pounds less pop.

It will be quite a feat if Hopkins can stay in the fight, even at Jones’s advanced age. Our stars point to Jones winning in overwhelming fashion.

On March 18th, James Toney meets Hasim Rahman in another pairing of seasoned war-horses.

Toney and Rahman already had their introductions, when they brawled in Mexico during a WBC gathering to bestow Rahman’s new belt. Between formalities, Toney got married, which could bring up the old questions about carnal training.

Let’s hope when they meet in the ring, they restore some of the fire missing from the heavyweights in ‘05.  Toney might have an edge in recent form, but Rahman shows fine tuning he previously lacked. The winner might get newly “crowned’ Nicolai Valuev, an easy payday outside Germany.

Rahman could be the heavyweight that finally makes Toney look like a blown up middleweight. But anything less than a top effort will probably lead to embarrassing night for the Rock and give Toney solid claim to being the true heavyweight champ.

This might not be the most artful fight of the new season, but it could well be the most grueling, and the closest. He who’s faced the better big boys gets the nod. Advantage Rahman.

March 25 features Marco Antonio Barrera, probably the strongest overall claimant to 130 pound honors. The likely opponent is said to be always tough Jesus Chavez.

Chavez seemed rejuvenated when he met Leavander Johnson, but Johnson’s tragic death may have taken some of the steam out of thoughtful Chavez, said to have received Johnson’s family blessing to continue in Leavander’s name. That could mean a lot of inspiration. Either way, if he does meet Chavez, who hung tough with one arm against Erik Morales, Barrera won’t get any slack. The Fates say Chavez, whose wife recently served in Iraq, is a live, live underdog.

Another clash to be King of the Hill finds Floyd Mayweather Jr, arguably the game’s finest practitioner, bumping heads with Zab Judah, one of very few boxers who rivals Mayweather in speed, skills, and brashness.

Their hoedown, scheduled for April 8th, is one of the top pound-for-pound pairings in recent years. Judah will need a career best performance to have a chance of victory. That’s not to say he can’t pull it off, but currently Mayweather is in a different galaxy in terms of punching power. Slow-motion replays may be the only way to follow the flying fists once these two whirlwinds unload.

Mayweather should be around a 4-1 favorite. Judah is good enough to make taking the odds an attractive proposition, since that’s probably as good of odds as one is likely to see on Floyd for a while. Mayweather will stop Judah in his tracks.

The first half of next year is set to conclude with the star power of Oscar De La Hoya, probably against noteworthy foil Ricardo Mayorga on May 6. There could be some snags before a contract is finalized, but if it comes off count on Mayorga for promotional sound bite nastiness. One of the questions is whether or not he’ll be able to get under Oscar’s skin, and it might actually be entertaining to see the classy, model perfect De La Hoya show he’s human and freak out against the Nicaraguan maniac.

Mayorga may have burnt his best bridges already. De La Hoya has not only the boxing skill to negate Mayorga’s offense, but enough power to end it early. If Mayorga rushes in and causes a cut, De La Hoya might get ruffled enough to duck into defense and Mayorga could get a decision that goes to the cards after six rounds or so. It will be wild for as long as it lasts.

Pro boxing, like many sports, had its share of problems during 2005, but there were also many positives. Most notably, as usual, was superior and inspiring action inside the strands. Unless there’s a mass freeze-up at the top, early 2006 figures to see decisive interaction among many well-known fighters.

If even fifty per cent of the aforementioned pairings come to fruition, it’s a strong likelihood the upcoming year has at least one very positive half. Arturo Gatti, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Brian Viloria, and Shannon Briggs, to name a few, are also on deck. No matter how you chose to look at or measure mass qualities, there’s still just as much good to be seen.

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