New York’s most popular fighter, three-time world champion Miguel Cotto, returns to the Big Apple, is risking his WBO welterweight title to take on former IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey in a fight that will determine the true welterweight champion.
The fight will take place this Saturday night from New York’s Madison Square Garden. It will be broadcast live on HBO Championship boxing at 10:30 Pm Eastern time.
Earlier today, both men along with the a few of the undercard fighters like Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon were on hand at MSG to talk to the media in the final press conference before Saturday night.
Clottey was the first to arrive at the presser and did not disappoint the media as he had a lot to say about this Saturday night and talked about the respect he has for Miguel Cotto.
"Cotto is a very good fighter," said Clottey. "I have so much respect for him for taking this fight. None of the other welterweights ever mention me as a top or even a tough fighter. He was the only that would talk about me in the Puerto Rican newspapers as a top fighter and gave me the credit I deserve. I will respect him forever because if he did not take this fight with me, I don’t know where I would be. Without Miguel Cotto right now, there would be no Joshua Clottey."
Clottey is returning to the ring for the first time since his biggest career victory, a 10-round technical decision over former three-time world champion Zab Judah last August 2.
Even though Clottey comes in as a 2-1 underdog, he has proven himself against progressively stiffer competition coming into this fight and, despite breaking his hands, gutted it out to lose by points in his first title challenge, while Cotto got stopped outright in the 11th round in respective fights against common nemesis Antonio Margarito.
Clottey does not seem phased by the underdog talk.
“He is the champion so that would make him the favorite,” said Clottey. If they make him the favorite, then he’s the favorite. I have no control over that stuff. It does not bother me one bit.
Known for his aggressive style and punching power, Clottey knows that kind of approach might not be the way to go to against Cotto. However, no one knows how much the Margarito fight has affected Miguel and Clottey is itching to find out fast.
"If he throws punches the way he did against Margarito, then he’s going to have problems. He only lost three rounds to Antonio in that fight but still got knocked out," said Clottey. "I am just going to do my thing and not follow what Margarito did in that fight. All I know is if I hit him and he is still standing there, I am going to have a lot of problems. I am going to think of new plan instantly in the ring.”
When asked about Cotto’s weakness, Clottey was not shy about his answer.
“I don’t know about his body. I don’t feel has the ability to take a body shot well and if I hit there enough, I am going to have a good chance.
Cotto (33-1, 27 KOs), from Caguas, Puerto Rico, will be headlining his sixth event at MSG since his debut in 2005. A three time world champion in two different divisions, Cotto captured the vacant WBO welterweight title in his last fight on February 21, stopping top-rated contender Michael Jennings in the fifth round. But that fight did not show if Cotto is truly back as the force he was before the Margarito fight.
The fight this Saturday against Joshua Clottey will truly show if Cotto is back as the Puerto Rican nightmare he once was for his opponents. Cotto built a reputation off of bludgeoning opposition such as Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah.
He then burst onto the scene with a thrilling victory over Shane Mosley showing that he is more than just a mauler to the body. Cotto has shown a suspect chin over his career and it is something that Joshua Clottey, while not known for overwhelming power, will try to exploit.
“Clottey is a tough and defensive fighter,” said Cotto. “His record proves he belongs at the elite level of the welterweight division. But I will be ready to give everything I have against him and to do all necessary to defeat him. It’s going to be a war inside the ring at the Garden.
The winner of this fight has a legitimate claim to being the No. 1 or 2 welterweight in the world. Considering Cotto holds a decision over current champion Shane Mosley, and Paul Williams is for all intents and purposes a junior middleweight or heavier, the winner of the Cotto vs. Clottey match holds a serious stake to the welterweight throne.
A fight with either Mosely, Pacquiao, or Mayweather could be up next for the winner.
On the undercard, it will be undefeated two-time world champion and current WBO junior flyweight champion, Ivan Calderon will be making his first New York appearance since 2001.
Calderon (32-0, 6 KOs), making his fourth defense of his WBO title when he will be facing the No. 1 contender Rodel Mayol (25-3, 19 KOs), from Manadue City, Cebu, Phillippines.
“It has always been my dream to fight at MSG in New York and to do it the night before the National Puerto Rican parade, makes it even more exciting for me. It will be a night to remember,” said Calderon.
Mayol, a two-time world title challenger, has vowed to make the most of his third opportunity at the brass ring, which will also mark his USA debut. Mayol is part of Team Pacquiao and will have the man himself, Manny Pacquiao, in his corner for the biggest fight of his career.