Exclusive Interview With Joshua Clottey - "I've Waited For This Opportunity For A Long Time"

boxing by James Slater, photo by Naoki Fukuda - The two men have met face-to-face at a press conference to officially announce the fight, and now IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey and his WBO counterpart Miguel Cotto will go away and push themselves to the limit in training for the June 13th unification bout. For the just-turned 32-year-old Clottey, 35-2(20) the fight represents the big chance he has been waiting for for a long time.

Confident of victory without being at all boastful or arrogant, the tough and dangerous "Grand Master" who was born in Accra, Ghana, but now lives in New York, was kind enough to give me some of his time for an interview earlier today.

Speaking to me over the phone, here is what Joshua had to say..

James Slater: It's an honour to speak with you, champ, as always. Firstly, congratulations on getting the big fight with Miguel Cotto.

Joshua Clottey: Thank you.

J.S: When will you start training camp, Joshua?

J.C: Either next weekend or the one after that, the end of April I'd say. I'm already doing my jogging, now I look forward to starting my camp.

J.S: And where will you be training, in New York?

J.C: Yes, New York, as usual.

J.S: I know you have been waiting for this big chance for a long time. For the record, how long have you been waiting for, shall we say, a real breakthrough fight? Obviously you are already a world champion.

J.C: I have been waiting for this big chance for about three years, or since I came to America. It's good for me to mix with the big-shots, like Cotto and Shane Mosley. And now I'm heading in the right direction with this fight and I'm very happy.

J.S: Do you think, aside from yourself, that Cotto is the best welterweight in the world?

J.C: To be honest with you, I think he's one of the best, but not the very best. I am one of the best, and now the two of us are going to fight. To be honest with you, I don't know who the best welterweight in the world is.

J.S: Could this fight be the toughest fight so far in your career?

J.C: I can't answer that now, because I don't know what Cotto will bring. I think it will be a very competitive fight, but I only know me and what I am capable of and what I will be doing when we fight. In this fight, for all those people in the world who do not know me, I am going to show them what I can do.

J.S: As you know, by the time you get in the ring with Cotto, you will have been out of action for ten months, since beating Zab Judah last August. Are you worried at all about ring-rust?

J.C: Well, you know, I've always been training since the Zab fight. I love training. I've never experienced ring-rust before in my career, so I'm not even thinking about that. I've waited for this opportunity for a long time, and I will be going in there to fight and to make the most of my chance.

J.S: You and Cotto have both been in with Antonio Margarito - you lost a decision but Cotto got stopped late. Were you shocked when that happened?

J.C: I was telling people in my gym, before that fight, I knew Cotto would do a lot [of work] in that fight, and that Margarito would reserve himself for the later rounds. He [Margarito] takes many punches and relies on his chin, he has no defence. But he came on late, as I thought he would, while behind on points.

J.S: We all know what happened recently, with Margarito being suspended after his loss to Mosley. You have said in the past that you want a rematch with Margarito, do you still want one now, after all that's happened?

J.C: I'm still very interested in my rematch with Margarito. If he comes back after his suspension and is willing to fight me, I will fight him. He holds my win, and I need to get it back. But I can't afford to wait around. There are other fights for me to take. But after his suspension is over we'll see. To be any kind of a legend you have to take these fights against the best fighters. I have always said I can beat Margarito.

J.S: You and Cotto are both very strong fighters physically, and you can both box well. What type of fight do you expect on June 13th?

J.C: It depends. He has strength, but I have more strength that him. And I have better boxing skills than him. When people see me blocking punches in a fight and not moving around too much, it is only to make the fans happy. When two fighters box and move there is not that much action. In this fight, though, I will show my boxing skills.

J.S: You expect a distance fight or a stoppage win?

J.C: The reason I can't answer that is because I don't know if he will move away or if he will stand and fight me. If he stands in front of me I'll go to his body a lot. I don't think he can take my body work all night if he stands and fights.

J.S: It's been great speaking with you, Joshua. Not to look too far ahead, but are you hoping you will hold all the welterweight belts one day?

J.C: I am hoping they [the other champions] will give me the chance. This is the first time, and I'll be going for another belt to go with the one I already hold. My goal is to unify the belts, yes. Back home in Ghana, we have had many great fighters, such as Ike Quartey - but we have never had an undisputed world champion. So this is a big goal of mine, yes.

J.S: We wish you best of luck for June 13th. Thanks again, Joshua.

J.C: Okay, thank you.

Article posted on 16.04.2009

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