DALLAS, Texas: Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao began promoting his March 13 welterweight fight against Ghana’s Joshua Clottey on Tuesday, moving past failed talks with Floyd Mayweather and looking ahead.
Pacquiao, 50-3 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, will defend his World Boxing Organisation title against Clottey, 35-3 with 21 knockouts on the same date he was expected to face unbeaten US star Mayweather before negotiations broke off.
“It’s going to be a good fight,” Pacquiao said. “Clottey, he is a good fighter, a top fighter, and he is bigger than me. I have to prepare hard for this fight and train hard and focus.”
Mayweather’s request for unprecedented random blood testing was rejected by Pacquiao’s camp to deny boxing fans a long-awaited showdown between the sport’s pound-for-pound kings that could have been a US$40 million payday for each.
But Clottey served notice that he intends to be more than simply a fill-in fighter destined to fall to the Philippines’ powerhouse.
“This is going to be a hell of a fight,” Clottey said.
“I love Manny Pacquiao. If you throw (punches) at him, he will throw back at you. I know what I’m going to face.”
The matchup will headline the first fight card at US$1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium, home of the famed American football squad from Dallas.
Each fighter sported a Cowboys jersey as cheerleaders screamed beneath a huge video screen.
“It’s a building for great competitions. It bodes well for us to get Manny Pacquiao into the ring,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose guarantee of US$25 million was not enough to bring a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight together.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, made it clear after the news conference that hard feelings remain over the failure to make Pacquiao-Mayweather happen after a compromise of no blood test within two weeks of the fight.
Pacquiao “is disappointed the fight is not here,” Roach told ESPN.
“Life goes on without Mayweather. He wouldn’t agree to (a limit of) 14 days before the fight.
“We did our best to appease him but he wouldn’t go along with it.
“Mayweather’s people agreed to it but Mayweather wouldn’t go along with it. I don’t think he wants to fight (Manny). It was a smoke screen for him to say no.
“I want to beat this guy’s ass, believe me, but he won’t give us the opportunity… We will fight him any day of the week. But he doesn’t make the rules.”
Pacquiao dislikes having blood drawn so near a fight, saying it weakens him. Roach said he could not afford a blood test to distract “Pac-Man” so near a fight and dismissed the idea his fighter had anything to hide.
“There are always doubters out there but Manny Pacquiao is clean,” Roach said. “He has passed every drug test in the world.” — AFP