Last week, I wrote a report about a boxing event called ‘Day of Thunder’, which was held at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin. In the weeks before the event took place, the most-recognisable name on the card was added, but with little fanfare. The fighter was Joshua Clottey, former WBO welterweight champion of the world. He was slated to face Ibraghim Guemues, who would enter the ring with a record of 16—0 (15). The fight was set to be contested at the super-welterweight (also known as light-middleweight) limit of 154lbs.
The alarm bells began to ring the day before when Clottey and his team did not arrive for the weigh-in, which was held at a restaurant a few hundred yards from the venue. According to the PR team on site, there had been issues with transport and it was expected that Clottey and those around him would arrive the day after, merely hours before the fight.
..did not appear on the card and, according to the organisers, there was no explanation forthcoming from his camp as for why. The event went ahead, the fights were fought, and the only person to have lost out would seem to have been Guemues, who missed out on having a recognisable name on his record.
What did develop prior to Clottey’s aborted Berlin bout was the appearance on BoxRec of a scheduled fight for him against Azizi Mponda. Mponda, when that bout was set, had a record of 15—3—2 (9). Clottey, in comparison, had a record of 40—5 (23). That fight was slated to take place on 22 September (as of this time of writing, last night) at the Presbyterian Training College in Akropong, Ghana.
As I wrote last week:
“Mponda has a record of 15—3—2 (9) and has never fought off of the African continent. Very few of the fighters he has fought have put together more than five victories in their careers. Of those that have, he has had two losses and a draw, against one victory. He also lost, in his eighth fight, to a fighter with a single victory on their record in their second contest. In the fight before that, he drew with a fighter that was 3—2 at the time.”
A few hours ago, Fightnews reported that Clottey had won the fight by ninth round technical knockout. No reliable video footage of the bout has emerged on YouTube, so it is hard to make a judgment call as to what this means.
What can be discerned, however, is that Clottey had to go nine rounds against an opponent that would have had no business being in the ring with the Joshua Clottey of ten years ago. Back then, Clottey was fighting the likes of Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao in Madison Square Garden in New York and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. In at least one of those fights, Clottey has said that he was paid a million dollars for the bout.
It is unknown as to how much Clottey would have earned for the Mponda fight, or how much he had been promised to take on Guemues. But common sense says that it would not have been anywhere near a million dollars. In avoiding a hard-hitting genuine light-middleweight in Guemues, Clottey made the business-smart decision to take an easier fight. This would suggest that he, or the people around him, are attempting to gear his career towards one last big fight, hopefully against a rising light-middleweight or welterweight, and probably in the US or UK, where his name would command larger purses than in Ghana.
There is every chance that Clottey will come off worse, physically, from these hypothetical bouts. After all, he is forty-one years old in a sport that does not reward age. And while it may seem, when it happens, that it is the punches that are catching Clottey, his real and unbeatable opponent will be time.
As AJ Liebling wrote of Joe Louis in 1951 when the Brown Bomber took on Rocky Marciano, “[In] street clothes, a superbly conditioned man of 37 is still young. It's when he gets in a ring that age comes on him.”
Louis was thirty-seven when that story was written.
Clottey is forty-one. This is the part of the story that never ends well.
This story has also been published on Medium. Connect with the writer on Twitter.