From a destitute fishing village in Ghana, he traveled to England, then crossed the Atlantic for the United States; Joshua Clottey slowly worked his way to the top of the boxing world becoming the IBF welterweight world champion in 2008. He later fought the popular Miguel Angel Cotto of Puerto Rico for the WBO version of the same weight category which he lost via controversial split decision. The 32-year-old Ghanaian is known for his trade mark high guard defense and does it very well by allowing him an extremely difficult target to hit while whipping his opponents with heavily launched counterpunches of his own, at long range. Being a world class and accomplished fighter that he has become, the services of Clottey was tapped by the legendary promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank to face the great Manny Pacquiao when his scheduled super fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. went awry.
Pacquiao, the fighting pride of the Philippines, is the first boxer in history to have captured seven world championships in seven divisions and is arguably the most exciting fighter walking the planet today. As a fighter he appears to be complete. His stamina is phenomenal while the combination of blinding speed and power is unparalleled according to Bob Arum himself whose immersion in the sport spans over 40 years. The diminutive fighter from the Philippines is even regarded by a handful of boxing historians to be now on the pedestal of boxing where the great Sugar Ray Robinson and Mohammad Ali are; in his ascent to the top Pacquiao has wrecked havoc in every division where he sojourned, stopping the great and widely popular fighters like Oscar dela Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. Hatton was not able to make the fight to the third round as he was knockout nearly unconscious in round two, while dela Hoya surrendered in the 8th and Cotto descended the ring with the WBO welterweight belt no longer strapped around his waist when the referee stopped the fight in the twelfth. Pacquiao which is known for the apt moniker,Pacman, is the crowd magnet of the modern era.
Thus against Pacquiao and aside from a million dollar earning he would be bringing home, Clottey was offered the opportunity of a lifetime; beating the now legendary Pacquiao will change his life forever as his marketability and popularity as a professional fighter would hiss to meteoric rise more than he could hoped for. On that considered account people were agog expecting a very competitive fight as Clottey was believed to climb the ring with dog intention not only to beat the Filipino punching machine but to knock him out which no one had ever done since the current pound-for- pound king stepped on American soil. Clottey had the power, defense and size advantage, except for speed which is Pacquiao’s main weapon.
So in the belief of a very thrilling fight, over 50,000 boxing enthusiasts trooped to the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on March 13. Clottey did hint an exciting fight in the opening round, but when he got hit by Pacquiao though it did not really hurt him, he reverted to almost all-defense stance throughout the fight. Consequently, the ring became a sight of four-cornered place of boredom. The face-off became an all-Pacquiao show but boxing makes no difference with tango; it takes two willing participants to make the spectacle complete and beautiful to watch. Pacquiao’s display of virtuosity at offense, as if he was throwing stones was a beauty to behold nonetheless, but Clottey’s turtle shell-defense had dampened the supposedly competitive fight and enabled him to survive Pacquiao’s onslaught in a discreditable manner. His survival would have been admirable if it was accomplished by giving Pacquiao fighting resistance, not by hiding; and by the not-so-unusual twist of event in boxing, Clottey could have even won it all.
Due to Clottey’s apparent neglect of his obligation as a fighter, he became the object of bitter ridicule from the disconsolate buffs and a multitude of boxing writers around the world, shortly after the fight. Some felt they were cheated while he was dubbed a coward by others, and that his only interest going into the fight was to collect the money than fight Pacquiao and entertained the fans.
Some were convinced the magnitude of Pacquiao for an opponent made Clottey submit and stay in the ring just trying to survive the high chance of him getting knockout, thus saving himself from the common fate of those aforementioned fighters who indeed fought Pacquiao but ended up humiliated. But in so doing, it seems Clottey suffered the same degradation, a moral humiliation which may bite more painful than actual trips to the canvas due to an opponent’s punch.
But at the end of the day, no one but Clottey knew the real reason why his action in the ring on that March 13 eve was blatantly contrary to what he had been saying to the media months and even days prior to the fight. One reason perhaps that promptly hovered in Clottey’s mind when he felt the first blow from the quick and power – punching Pacquiao was thoughts of his beloved Zeenat, his nine-year-old daughter back home in his native Ghana. “She is everything to me,” Clottey said of his daughter in one of the interviews shown on the “Road to Dallas.” And for that the preservation of his health for his daughter was far noble than fighting the dangerous Pacquiao toe-to-toe for the full entertainment of the fans.
By most accounts anything done for the sake of a loved one is noble and Clottey may have possibly done something that was right, even if the decision was made during one of the hardest and trying moments in his life that needed to be resolved at the quickest time possible. On one hand Clottey might have possibly committed the mistake of his life, which can be the normal conclusion of people who like himself inhabit the neighborhood he chose in order to make an account of himself in the larger universe of people outside his immediate family.