Tampa Bay Sports Day

Boxing Notebook

CLOTTEY READY FOR PACQUIAO:   Before leaving for Dallas Texas last week for the biggest fight of his career against welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, Joshua Clottey showed his skills sparring in the Bronx and at the Kingsway Gym in Manhattan.  Pacquaio-Clottey Saturday evening on HBO pay-per-view is the replacement for what was supposed to be the anticipated fight between Pacquiao and the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Nevertheless, Clottey has bypassed the questions as to why he has become the second fiddle. He almost defeated Miguel Cotto last year for the WBO welterweight title, now held by Pacquiao at Madison Square Garden.  And Clottey realizes to defeat Pacquiao more punches will have to be thrown.

“You know I am not a flyweight, not a bantamweight,” says Clottey (35-3, 20KO’s) a native of Ghana now residing in the Bronx “I am a welterweight and welterweights only throw punches that connect.  I can throw punches which connect and land and cause damage.”

That fight with Cotto, last June at Madison Square Garden in New York almost went to Clottey. Another punch here or there and Cotto would have been dethroned. That’s how close the fight was. “I can throw punches which connect and land and cause damage,” says Clottey.  “If you look at the last fight, I won the last round. He (Cotto) threw punches and I blocked them and threw punches and they connected. I will throw punches that cause damage,”

And if Clottey stands any chance against the powerful Pacquiao, (50-3, 38KO’s) from the Philippines, he will have to punch and also throw his jabs with authority. Pacquiao is considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the business and after defeating Cotto achieved boxing history as the first time seven division champion.

“My training is going to show when I get in the ring, but with Manny Pacquiao you don’t have to miss with him,” commented Clottey last week. “When he is throwing you have to let him do it.  A victory would mean very ,very more than a lot to me. That’s why I am so happy about this opportunity,”

There is constant suspicion that Pacquiao may be taking steroids, a question that has been raised now because Pacquiao refused Olympic style drug testing that caused his fight with Mayweather  to be called off/ Mayweather wanted that blood sample testing of  three random times as a stipulation and the Pacquiao camp did everything they could do to prevent it,

As a result Clottey got his big opportunity, this time at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium that could see a crowd in excess of 40,000. On the steroid issue hovering around Pacquiao, Cottey said, “I don’t want him to do that because I respect him too much. I don’t think Manny Pacquiao is doing that thing.”

“If he is doing that thing he is killing the sport. I believe in him. I know he throws a lot of punches. He is the man now and he is the best fighter out there.  When I walk in the ring I know what I will have to do to win the fight.”

Cottey was never thinking about this fight. He wanted another shot at Cotto. But the chance came, and his career has always been about defeating any fighter that would give him an opportunity. Pacquiao this Saturday night offers that opportunity and a win for Clottey could turn the division upside down.

One other factor to consider as Clottey fights for his fourth world title. His trainer, Kwame Asante was not granted a visa form Ghana. Clottey has been tutored by the veteran Lenny DeJesus of the Bronx, a valuable cut man as well who at one time worked the corner with Pacquiao’s main and acclaimed trainer Freddy Roach.

“:Lenny has over 40 years in the business and I feel very confident and comfortable with him,” says Clottey.  DeJesus has also been in the corner of Clottey as a cut man. “He was pushing me a lot,” says Clottey, “and he knows what he is doing.”

What the boxing world will find out Saturday evening is how much the Cotto fight taught Clottey. He wins and for sure he is not looked as a second fiddle when it comes to the mega fight.

GOLDEN GLOVES CONTINUE WITH DISAPPOINTING OUTCOMES:  Bronx based Victor Pena was a busy trainer the past few days preparing three of his fighters for a chance to advance in the 40th annual Daily News New York City Golden Gloves Tournament. Pena has guided 42 champions to the illustrious gold over the years.

The 49th annual tournament, most prestigious amateur one in the country, that has led many more to pro boxing championship fame continued last week in the New York City area. Pena packed his bags and met his kids at his temporary quarters, John’s Gym in the South Bronx.  His kids have been training there because their home gym, Morris Park was gutted by a fire in December,

Pena on three separate evenings got his fighters in his van, along with some supporters as they took the journey to Glen Cove Long Island, Flushing Queens and near the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn. Golden Gloves venues are picked months in advance by Daily News Community Relations Director Brian Adams a Golden Gloves champion in the 1990’s who had a brief pro career as a welterweight.

“We prefer to do the shows at community centers and churches,” says Adams at ringside last week when the quarterfinals continued at the Electrical industrial Center in Flushing   “It’s a win situation for all,” he says as the directors of the venues split profits with tournament organizers.

As so often happens, Pena and other trainers will arrive at venues and their fighters will discover that the preparation has to wait for another day. Either one or two participants is, a no- show, or there is a medical or weight issue and the result is a bye into the next round.

Pena’s fighters get to Glen Cove and find out that their bouts in the 114 pound weight class are not until Saturday evening in Brooklyn. “Someone made a mistake, somewhere,” comments Pena.   So it is on to Friday in Flushing/

You arrive at the venue. Fighters are cramped in a back room and called one-by-one for their physicals. This time Pena’s fighter, Frank Garriga is first on the bout sheet and ready to try and advance to the semifinals in the 123-pound open class. He, like many others has no idea what his opponent will do. It is hard to study an opponent in this tournament, not like the pro game where fight tapes are available.

Garriga had a tough time with Marcus Suarez and failed to get his second pair of gloves. He won the 119-pound novice final at Madison Square Garden two years ago. “You did not do your running and lost your stamina,” said Pena to his fighter when it was all over.  “I want to turn pro,” said Garriga who felt he won the fight.

Pena quickly dispelled any thoughts to his fighter about turning professional. At the age of 21, Garriga still has plenty to learn. But like most fighters who fail to get a decision in this tournament, the feeling is they got robbed by inept judges. “No you win when you throw more punches,” says Pena.

Pena’s two other fighters, Chayanne Rivera and Jeffrey Archie also fell short in the quarterfinals on Saturday night. Rivera, of the south Bronx lost his first amateur fight getting stopped after the second round. The anticipation that was there Thursday waited another day and was quickly over.

You here the same response from Rivera, that was heard from Garriga the night before.  “I want to turn pro.” And they same response from Pena, “You are not ready,” as this trainer has concern for his fighters.   “It’s back to the drawing board,” said Pena to his fighters after Archie lost a tough decision to conclude a losing thee days.

The good thing is these are kids. The earning process to only get better, and as Archie said, after failing in his second attempt to get to the finals, “I won’t quit this tournament until I get those gloves.” Yes the Golden Gloves are so important to these young pugilists looking for prominence.  The finals are at the Madison Square Garden WaMu Theatre March 25th and 26th.

COTTO FIGHT HEADED TO YANKEE STADIUM:  It is not official but should be in the next few days Miguel Cotto, the former welterweight champion who lost to Pacquiao late last year will return to New York and have his next fight at Yankee Stadium Saturday June 5th opposing Yuri Foreman in a fight that would be televised on HBO Sports.

“It’s almost certain to be a date,” said a source at Top Rank, promoter of Cotto.  The particulars as to seating and where the ring would be placed are the remaining elements that have kept the official announcement from being made.

Foreman and Cotto does not have the magnitude as a Cotto-Mayweather or Cotto-Shane Mosley bout would, however the Yankees organization is intent on returning boxing back to their palace in the Bronx, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is a close friend of Yankees CEO Lonn Trost.

Foreman holds one of those alphabet soup belts in boxing and has a tremendous following in the New York Jewish community.  So the fight will generate some interest in the Bronx especially with the popularity Cotto has in the Puerto Rican community.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com Log on to: www.keepitinthering,net