If I Were a Boxing Matchmaker: Joshua Clottey

Where I would take him
3/4/10,New York,N.Y. --- "READY FOR BATTLE AT COWBOYS STADIUM" --- Joshua Clottey,Ghana hits the speed bag during media day Thursday at Kingsway Gym in New York. Clottey is getting ready for the fight of his life against seven-time world champion and "Fighter of the Decade" Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao on Saturday,May 13 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas,Texas on HBO Pay-Per-View. --- Photo Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank (no other credit allowed) copyright 2010

Howdy folks. Today I’d like to throw some potential matchups in for a man who is making a comeback.

Joshua “Grandmaster” Clottey 40-5 (23 KOs)

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Joshua Clottey is a boxer who I have followed closely for many years. I know many people could probably care less to hear about him now, considering he is well past his prime. Even when he was in his prime, he may not be the most exciting guy to watch. However to me, he has always been an outstanding talent and a very tough match for anybody he got in the ring with. He has one of the tightest defensive guards I have ever seen, comparable to guys like Winky Wright. He has got to have some of the strongest arms in the world, too. They take a pounding and it doesn’t seem to ever affect him. It is extremely difficult to get passed that wall and get in a clean shot.

He has sort of a catch and counter style, that is effective for him. Clottey is very crafty, smart and patient. Sometimes too patient; that’s how he loses, by being outworked. Joshua has a decent jab, sneaky left hook, very good uppercuts, throws well to the body, throws good combinations–all of which are mixed up nicely. His left hook-straight right is one of his best combinations, along with the double left hook. Those are not common combinations to see, which makes it complicated to not get hit by them.

There were many days I use to hope he would get an opportunity to square up with some of the best in the world and it finally came when he faced off with Antonio Margarito in 2006. He ended up losing that bout, but he looked to be just as good, if not better than Margarito. Especially early on in the match he seemed to be in the fight and possibly winning, until it appeared, he injured his hand. After that his punch output dimmed and it became too close to call. He then stepped in with Diego Corrales and really took it to him in his next bout. He reeled off four more wins, including a victory over a skilled Zab Judah. After the Judah bout, he got a chance against a possible future Hall of Famer in Miguel Cotto. I was at that match in Madison Square Garden and it was a good fight. Some believe Clottey could have deserved the decision, but ultimately, he lost.

After Cotto, was Pacquiao, where he simply didn’t show up. He retired after his defeat to Gabriel Rosado in 2015 and now recently returned to the spotlight this year. I hope the best for him in his return and hope that he gets a couple solid paydays before calling it quits for good. I think he still has a chance to defeat some of the guys near the top of the 154-pound weight class, but it will be tough, given his current age.

These are some potential matchups for him to consider that might be more winnable, yet still closely contested and still be on the “big enough” stage.

#1 Matchup: Erislandy Lara 26-3-3 (15 KOs)

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Erislandy Lara would be the best value for Mister Clottey. Lara is currently a top-5 super welterweight, so if Clottey can win, he can’t be overlooked. Clottey is 41 now and Lara is 36. Considering both men are past their primes and only getting older, this is a good style match between two really good boxers. Clottey would be the pressure fighter in this one, with Lara boxing from the outside like he always does. Lara is naturally bigger, but Clottey can take a punch and rarely allows any punches through his tight guard. Also, keep in mind that Clottey is only about an inch shorter than Lara, so nothing drastic. Both of these crafty vets have their advantages in this. Lara’s boxing ability from range and movement around the ring. Clottey throws good body blows and quick snappy shots.

My question would be, who would outwork the other? Neither are the most active fighters, but this would be a tactical match that would have many ebb and flows. They both have had their fair share of questionable decisions in their days and days of people ducking them, so I’m sure neither one would have a problem lacing up the gloves against each other. Neither are extremely marketable, but just enough to create a solid main event if you put together a solid undercard.

A smaller venue in New York would be a good landing spot for this. Maybe the Turning Stone in Verona, NY or possibly Atlantic City, NJ or Foxwoods in Connecticut. Somewhere like that would work.

#2 Matchup: James Kirkland 33-2 (29 KOs)

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James Kirkland is a hard hitter who has a punchers chance against many. His issues are that he is a limited boxer, who isn’t the most complicated to hit in return. Keep in mind that he has looked shaky-legged quite often in some of his most recent outings. Kirkland is a good name for Clottey right now.

If Clottey won then he throws his name back in the talks against bigger names. If he loses, well it’s not the worst loss he would have on his resume, so I don’t think he gets too much grief for it. There is a chance for Kirkland to win, given Clottey’s age, however, it is a great “value” fight for Clottey. Decent money, decent name.

San Antonio, Atlantic City, Connecticut, New York would be good spots for a smaller venue main event, or you could add this to a bigger main event as an undercard bout.

#3 Matchup: Austin Trout 31-5-1 (17 KOs)

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Austin Trout’s name can be thrown out there against any contenders and reputable boxers within the 154- or 160-pound weight classes and this would be no different. Both men are past their primes, but not fighters to overlook. Styles mesh well also in this bout, as Trout would be the boxer from distance, yet is not afraid to mix it up and trade some. I don’t think either one can stop the other because both are tough, but Clottey has a better chance to do it then Trout would, regardless of the natural size difference. Clottey can keep using those combinations and body shots to break Trout down.

Trout is the much younger man, but clearly has more wear on the tires. Clottey hasn’t been as roughed up as Trout. That’s why this would be a good choice for him. Just like Kirkland, the name alone is respectable enough to not be chastised, whether it is a loss or a victory. It’s also a solid payday for both, which could be set up in a small venue as a main event in New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, etc.

#4 Matchup: Wale Omotoso 28-4 (22 KOs)

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Omotoso is not the biggest name in the world, however he has fought some fairly good opposition and is coming off the biggest win of his career, knocking out Curtis Stevens. He has lost to Chordale Booker, Jessie Vargas, Jamal James and Sammy Vasquez. Omotoso is a decent boxer with good power. He’s kind of awkward and throws his punches with a lot of load up behind them, which gives his opponents to much time to recognize what’s coming. Clottey would just need to let his hands go, so if he can pull the trigger enough, he has a good chance to pepper Omotoso with some snappy and accurate punches.

There are a couple of other options for Clottey here, like Carlos Adames, Chordale Booker, etc., but I like the chances against Omotoso better. Adames is a big guy also, standing around 5’11″. Not to mention both Omotoso and Clottey are from Africa, so it might sell better than the Adames match. That’s where this would most likely take place.

#5 Matchup: Erickson Lubin 21-1 (16 KOs)

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Joshua Clottey is at a stage in his career where he should be fighting prospects, or fringe contenders. That is exactly what we have here. Erickson Lubin is a top 10-ish contender whose name is on the brink of being considered for big matchups with guys like Julian Williams, Jarrett Hurd and Jermell Charlo again. Clottey has the craftiness to win, but Lubin is much younger and more active. If the Grandmaster can pull this one off, he would put himself in line for those names instead. This would be a great undercard match on a bigger stage with a Hurd, Lara, Charlo or Williams main event, but this can probably pull off as a main event in a small venue somewhere.

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