By Ryan Songalia
IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey is not happy with boxing at the moment. Six months ago, Clottey finally won a world title belt, taking a technical decision over Zab Judah after a "headbutt" that looked more like a punch caused the fight to be stopped in the 9th round.
Three months later Judah was back in the ring on the Roy Jones Jr-Joe Calzaghe pay-per-view while Clottey waits without a venue, without a date for his mandatory challenger, South African Isaac Hlatschwayo. It just doesn't make sense to the 31-year-old Clottey.
So fed up with the sport is the titlist that he tells this writer that he is contemplating giving up on the sport and pursuing his other passion, soccer. Clottey is upset that he hasn't been able to secure fights with the top guys at 147.
"The problem is that they don't want to fight me," Clottey says, 35-2 (20 KO). "Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, they are all cowards. They need to stop being pu--ies and fight me."
Clottey, hailing from Accra, Ghana but now making his home in New York City, has made plans to be at Madison Square Garden on Saturday to call out Cotto, who is fighting Englishman Michael Jennings for the WBO title that night. Clottey fully expects Cotto to pull out a dominant victory.
"I hope they give me to him to fight," Clottey says of Top Rank stablemate Cotto. "I think it would be a very, very good fight.
"I'm going to the fight but I'm not the kind of guy who talks trash. I'm not used to that and I don't like to do that. But you have to give me what is mine because I'm a champion, number 4 in the world. I'm around them. We need to unify the belts and see who is the best."
Clottey evidently invests much stock into Boxrec.com's rankings, which have him ranked fourth behind Cotto, Margarito and Mosley.
Clottey concedes that unless he goes out there and makes the other champions fight him, it's likely that he will remain a fifth wheel in the division, frozen out of the big money picture. Hence his commitment to increase his visibility at the big fights, where Clottey has been noticeably absent.
Clottey's primary target is Shane Mosley, the Golden Boy Promotions partner who resurrected his waning career with an upset knockout of Antonio Margarito, who had handed Clottey his last defeat in 2006, last month. Mosley took the WBA title in the process.
"I'm supposed to be the number one guy in the welterweight division but I'm number four so I have to fight with the number one guy, Shane Mosley. In 2005, they offered me the fight but he didn't want to fight me because he said I'm a monster. He is afraid of me because he knows I would beat his old ass up.
"He mentions Cotto but he doesn't mention my name."
It is introduced that due to Mosley's advanced age, perhaps he's looking for mega bouts with the likes of Cotto or another big ticket draw that could pad his retirement fund. A fight with Clottey, though intriguing, isn't likely to produce a multi-million dollar purse.
"He doesn't need to do that unless he's broke but I know he doesn't need money like that. He doesn't need to fight to make money, he needs to fight the best, then he can get the money."
Clottey says that he doesn't speak directly with his promoter, Bob Arum, the man who can secure the fights he desires. He says the only interaction that he has with Arum is in the ring, with the cameras on, following his matches. The job of acting as the liaison is entrusted to his manager Vinny Scolpino. Clottey divulges that he is in the process of dissolving his managerial contract.
"I have a bad manager who listens to the promoter and doesn't listen to me," Clottey says.
Clottey claims that when he signed the contract, he did so at Scolpino's office - not in front of the commission - without legal representation and that he did not understand the language in the agreement.
Clottey says the case is going through proceedings with the New Jersey State Athletic Commission and that a judgment is approximately 2 weeks away.
In addition, he claims that for the last six months since this dispute began, Scolpino has not paid his rent per diem of $2,000 a month, which also covers the phone bill.
Calls to Scolpino were not immediately returned.
Though he claims to never have made any significant money in the sport, Clottey says that the bulk of his purses go to supporting his family and community back home in Ghana. It is his obligation, he says, one that propels him in his search for the big fights.
"I started boxing to make a living and support my people. The little I make I use to take care of people. In Africa there are a lot of people that don't even have anything to eat or water to drink. When you make some money and become somebody, you have to support them so it's not easy.
"I have to take care of the families because it is very poor in Ghana. If I don't have money, all of these people will go hungry. I have to fight, they keep calling me from Ghana that they need more food.
"I never made big money here but it's still money and I want to do my part to make it a better place."
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]