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Clottey's sparring mate Damian Frias...
Clottey’s sparring mate Damian Frias takes us inside camp, says an upset over Pacquiao is possible
February 22, 11:49 PM Las Vegas Boxing Examiner Chris Robinson
n October of last year, once beaten contender Damian Frias made the move up in weight to the Welterweight division to face off with Mexico City’s Freddy Hernandez. Taking place in Laredo, Texas, the Showtime televised bout was a pivotal one for Frias in his career as his past few years up until that point had been marked by inactivity and injuries.
As the rounds went by, however, Frias didn’t appear to be himself and his passive attack saw him end up on the wrong end of a decision. In the fight Frias appeared apprehensive towards building up his work rate and despite a late rally it wasn’t one of his better nights. The 98-92 scorecards across the board reflected the actions of a fighter who simply didn’t bring his best on that night.
The Placetas, Cuba native took a little time off to regroup but insists his belief in his abilities was never in question. Upon returning to his home away from home, Contender’s Gym in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Frias eventually began to get himself back on track in hopes for a big 2010 campaign.
“I’m back in the gym training and trying to redeem myself,” Frias recently stated. “I’m working hard, working harder than before. My mindset is OK. I didn’t lose my confidence because I didn’t get beat down. I fought a full blown Welterweight. I stepped up to Welterweight and I felt that I could compete. The last round that I had in that fight actually showed me that if I choose to I can go ahead and knock these guys out if I come in there with that mindset instead of boxing.”
Contender’s Gym is like Frias’ home away from home and he goes about his regimen under the watchful eye of his trainer John David Jackson, who also looks over former champions Nate Campbell and Randall Bailey as well as Super Middleweight contender Allan Green. While Frias was certainly at ease being around familiar surroundings it wasn’t until recently when things again started to fully pick up as he crossed paths with an unlikely gym mate.
“I’ve been working with Joshua Clottey for the past two weeks,” Frias stated. “Actually almost everyday. We’ve been sparring like four times a week. It’s been intense and we are really working. He’s got my respect and I have his respect.”
Respect seems to be the type of word one who elicit when discussing Clottey, who is a solid fighter from the bottom to the top. The Accra, Ghana fighter is in line for a chance of a lifetime showdown with Manny Pacquiao on March 13th at Dallas Cowboys stadium and it’s a contest that some say he very well has a chance of winning. When assessing the preparation for the bout, Frias insists their sparring sessions aren’t for the feint of heart.
“It’s very intense,” Frias claimed. “I just got back in the gym and he really didn’t catch me at tip top shape so he forced me to get back real fast, faster than I wanted to. It’s OK because he is a guy who is in my weight class and he is considered elite and I can see that I can compete in the Welterweight class by sparring him.”
The 16-2 Frias also has a tentative bout lined up for March so both me are helping prep one another for their respected showdowns. While the action in the ring may be hot and heavy Frias insists that it has lead to a certain type of understanding between each man. Frias has been able to see many sides of Clottey in and out of the ropes.
“It’s a special bond, of course,” Frias noted. “I want to see him win. From what I can see I am his only real sparring partner. Other guys might come once a week. We’re working together and he’s also helping me. As a person from what I can see he is a humble, quiet guy. He’s a strong soldier but he’s humble at the same time. He’s real pleased, from what I can see, with where he is at. When he comes to the gym he comes ready. As soon as he comes he wraps his hands up, puts his cup on, and he’s ready.”
Sporting a 35-3 record with 20 knockouts, Clottey’s only losses have all been close affairs against former world champions. The Accra, Ghana fighter is ultra confident in his abilities and Frias points out some of the intangibles he has noticed during their time in closed quarters.
“His conditioning,” Frias said. “He has nice hand speed and he fights in combination. He’s not a dummy. He thinks, he’s quiet, and he fights very calm and from what I can see that guy doesn’t get tired at all. That’s one of his main strengths. He has some power too, he’s strong.”
It’s obvious that Clottey presents a very formidable challenge to anyone he steps in the ring with but he is still perceived as a heavy underdog to Pacquiao, who has been on a terror in his past four fights. But from getting to know the former champion on an intimate basis, Frias believes whole heartedly that everything lies in Joshua’s hands come March 13th.
“He’s good, he’s ready and it’s all up to him. If he comes to the fight with the right mindset he can be victorious and upset a lot of people. He’s not going to be a pushover for Pacquiao.”
To learn more about the relationship between Damian ‘Devo’ Frias and Joshua Clottey please check out the Slideshow Collage titled 'A Different Kind of Bond' below. More insight and information on both Clottey and Frias is revealed picture by picture…
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