By Ben Jacobs
The boxing world’s attention will be focused on Las Vegas this weekend as Floyd Mayweather squares off with Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez, but over in New York, former IBF welterweight champion, Joshua Clottey, returns to the ring and will be hoping to get onto the world scene in the junior middleweight division.
Clottey was last seen in the ring in November 2011 with a straightforward second round stoppage of Calvin Green. In fact, that has been his only action since losing via a unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao in March 2010.
Clottey explained the reason for his long absence from the sport, and his hunger and desire to return.
“Well I’m so happy. You know, people thought I had retired but I want to let everyone know I have not retired. I had some promotional and managerial problems but I’m done with that.
“I didn’t want to work with my former manager anymore,” Clottey added.
“He didn’t do anything for me. I’m now with David Berlin, who is my advisor.
“I was in Ghana for a while, but I kept training cause I knew I’d be back in the ring. I’ve been back in New York for just over two months now. I’m training with Godwin Kotey, he was my trainer for my last fight with Calvin Green.”
Clottey, a huge soccer fan, has not kept up too much with the boxing scene but always kept his eye out for the big fights.
“Yeah, sometimes when there is a big fight like Mayweather or Pacquiao, I watched it in Ghana. But you know I’m not much of a fan of watching boxing too much. I like watching soccer.”
The Ghanaian’s opponent this Saturday will be experienced Dashon Johnson, on a card promoted by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing. The bout will be a ten rounder close to the middleweight limit but Joshua insists he will campaign at junior middleweight.
“I’m a 154lb fighter, I’m not gonna fight at 160lbs, just for this fight I’ll be around 159lbs.
“I’m looking forward to fighting all the guys at 154lbs, like Canelo Álvarez. But you know I don’t really want to mention names because I’m just coming back.
“I want people to start talking when I start fighting, then we’ll make the matches. But right now I just want to concentrate on my next fight. I will fight with anybody.”
The last time Clottey fought in New York, he was handed a split decision loss against Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto in a thriller that many observers felt Clottey deserved to win. Naturally ‘Grandmaster’ would love a return match in the near future.
“The fight with Cotto, I won the fight. They gave him the fight cause they wanted Cotto vs Pacquiao,” explained Clottey.
“I deserve the rematch. If I fought Cotto today I’d beat him.
“For the Pacquiao fight I trained very hard, I felt good physically. But you know sometimes, boxing is all about the mindset. When the mind is all right and everything is good with you, boxers perform at their best. But I had problems with my manager, I had to do everything myself. But I’m a different person now that I’m not with this manager, I’m ready to go.
“Don’t judge me on the Pacquiao fight; judge me on my whole career.”
Clottey feels he will be more effective at junior middleweight and will be a more aggressive fighter than before.
“When I was fighting at 147lbs, it was hard to make weight. Sometimes on the week of the fight I was really eating nothing.
“But at 154lbs I’m very comfortable. When I’m in the ring I’ll let my hands go more. I’m gonna throw a lot of punches.”