Dan Rafael: Joshua Clottey

Junior middleweight slugger James Kirkland, who has fought just one time in each of the past two years, is seemingly ready for his annual ring appearance.

Kirkland is the leading candidate to be featured in the HBO-televised co-feature of the Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight unification fight on Nov. 8 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs), a 30-year-old southpaw from Austin, Texas, and one of boxing roughest sluggers, has not fought since last December. In that HBO fight, he stopped Glenn Tapia in the sixth round of a slugfest.

HBO has tried multiple times throughout the year to work out a deal with Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Kirkland's promoter, to get Kirkland back on the air, but coming to terms has been very difficult because Kirkland has turned down several offers.

Two of the names that have come up as a possible Kirkland opponents are the crowd-pleasing Javier Maciel (29-3, 20 KOs) of Argentina and former junior middleweight world titleholder Zauerbek Baysangurov (29-1, 21 KOs) of Russia.

Kirkland's camp told ESPN.com he is out of the running to face Canelo Alvarez in December. He had been one of three candidates mentioned by Alvarez promoter Oscar De La Hoya. But Kirkland's camp views a possible fight with Alvarez as a pay-per-view fight, and Alvarez's next fight will be on premium cable (HBO or Showtime, which has not been decided yet).

Another fighter De La Hoya mentioned was junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, but that is highly unlikely, even before Andrade was approved to face Matt Korobov for a vacant middleweight belt. That leaves the likely Alvarez opponent as former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey, who is -- by far -- the weakest and least interesting of the three names De La Hoya mentioned.

Clottey dominates Mundine

April, 9, 2014
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For the past few years, Australia’s Anthony Mundine, a former super middleweight titlist, has talked about coming to America and getting a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Nobody ever took him seriously because he never had a chance to get a fight with Mayweather. But now he definitely won’t get that fight, and even he must realize that by now -- not after former welterweight titleholder Joshua Clottey, who was fighting for only the third time since his 2010 virtual shutout loss to Manny Pacquiao, traveled to Newcastle, Australia, and beat him up on Wednesday.

Clottey (38-4, 22 KOs) dropped Mundine (46-6, 27 KOs) five times -- count ‘em, five times -- in their junior middleweight fight en route to a unanimous decision.

Clottey scored knockdowns in the third, two in the sixth and one each in the eighth and 10 rounds to win on scores of 117-108, 116-108 and 115-109.

It was the most notable victory Clottey has had since he won a vacant welterweight belt by ninth-round technical decision against Zab Judah in 2008.

“I am thrilled that Joshua was victorious,” Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia said. “I knew when I signed Joshua to a promotional agreement he would still be a major force in the junior middleweight division. Joshua has the ability to defeat any junior middleweight in the world, and this win sets up potentially major fights for Joshua with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara and my junior middleweight champion, Demetrius Andrade. I am looking forward to Joshua's journey back to the world championship.”

Mundine-Clottey delayed a week

March, 24, 2014
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Manny PacquiaoGetty ImagesJoshua Clottey has fought just twice since a wide and disappointing 2010 loss to Manny Pacquiao.
Former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey's fight with Australia's Anthony Mundine has been delayed for a week.

The 12-round junior middleweight bout, scheduled for April 2 in Newcastle, Australia, will now take place on April 9 at same location.

Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia, who represents Clottey, told ESPN.com on Monday that the delay was to allow more time for Clottey to secure a visa. He said the visa has been granted but the date switch was a precaution to make sure there were no issues.

The 36-year-old Clottey (37-4, 22 KOs), a native of Ghana based in New York, will be fighting for only the third time since a dismal showing in a near-shutout decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight title fight in 2010.

Former super middleweight titlist Anthony Mundine (46-5, 27 KOs), now fighting at junior middleweight, has won two in a row (including a seventh-round stoppage of the faded Shane Mosley in November) since losing a middleweight title bout to countryman Daniel Geale in a January 2013 rematch.
Former welterweight titleholder Joshua Clottey has been chronically inactive, popping up only occasionally in the ring in recent years.

In fact, since his non-effort in a near-shutout decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight title fight at Cowboys Stadium in March 2010, Clottey has fought just twice -- easy wins against nondescript opponents -- once in 2011 and once 2013.

Now the 36-year-old Clottey (37-4, 22 KOs), a native of Ghana based in New York, is scheduled to make another one of his rare ring appearances.

He is slated to face former super middleweight titlist Anthony Mundine (46-5, 27 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round junior middleweight fight on April 2 in Newcastle, Australia, Mundine’s home country.

"It's an excellent opportunity for Joshua, and we are glad that after extended negotiations with Brendan Bourke from BOXA Promotions this fight is officially on,” Joe DeGuardia, Clottey’s latest promoter, said. “He's been training since his last victory in September looking for a big fight and Mundine presents a high risk/high reward type of fight. A win over Mundine will put him right back on track for a major fight in the United States."

Clottey is far removed from his career-best win, a ninth-round technical decision to claim a vacant welterweight title against Zab Judah in 2008. Clottey never defended the belt, vacating in order to challenge Miguel Cotto for a different version of the 147-pound title. Cotto outpointed Clottey in a close fight in 2009 and then Clottey faced Pacquiao.

"I am now fighting at my best weight, 154 pounds, and Anthony Mundine is one stop on my road to the world championship,” Clottey said.

Clottey plans comeback at 160

August, 24, 2013
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Joshua ClotteyEd Mulholland/US PresswireNearly two years since his last bout, former 147-pound titlist Joshua Clottey will return to the ring.
Former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey lost back-to-back decisions to Miguel Cotto (2009) and Manny Pacquiao (2010) in world title bouts and then all but disappeared.

Since the fight with Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium in March 2010, Clottey has fought just once, a second-round knockout of Calvin Green in November 2011.

But now the 35-year-old Clottey (36-4, 22 KOs), a native of Ghana based in New York, is planning a return, as a middleweight, after signing with Star Boxing promoter Joe DeGuardia.

"We're very excited to welcome Joshua Clottey to the Star Boxing Team," DeGuardia said in announcing the signing on Friday. "He's fought the very best in the world including Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto and he fits very favorably in the mix in the top 10 middleweights in the world. I've watched Joshua for many years and have always been very impressed by his power and aggressive style."

Clottey has faced other big names besides Pacquiao and Cotto. In 2006, he lost a decision to Antonio Margarito in a welterweight title fight. In 2007, he hammered the late Diego Corrales for a lopsided 10-round decision in what would be Corrales' final fight. In 2008, he won a ninth-round technical decision and a vacant welterweight title against Zab Judah, but he wound up vacating the belt in order to challenge Cotto for his version of the title and dropped a split decision.

The first fight of Clottey's new deal is scheduled to take place Sept. 14 in Huntington, N.Y. He'll fight a scheduled 10-rounder at 156 pounds with his opponent slated to be Dashon Johnson (14-12-3, 5 KOs).

Finding Nelson foe proving tricky

April, 11, 2013
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Who will junior middleweight Willie Nelson fight on June 29? Good question.

Promoter Lou DiBella and HBO continue to search for an opponent to face Nelson in the opener of a tripleheader that will be topped by Gennady Golovkin's middleweight title defense against Matthew Macklin.

It has been an arduous task to find an opponent for Cleveland's Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) that everyone is comfortable with. As somebody involved in the fight said to me recently, "I'm in Willie Nelson opponent hell."

Poland's obscure and untested Damian Jonak (36-0, 21 KOs) turned down the fight, according to DiBella. He said he was hoping to put in Antwone Smith (23-4-1, 12 KOs) as the opponent, but HBO execs are balking, and I can't blame them.

Argentina's Javier Maciel (25-2, 18 KOs) has also come up as a possibility since his April 6 fight in Macau, China, against Vanes Martirosyan was canceled after Martirosyan broke his thumb.

Promoter Joe DeGuardia, who signed former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey earlier this year, said Clottey has accepted the fight but that DiBella and HBO have not accepted him -- although they haven't said no, either.

"We definitely want the fight," DeGuardia said. "We said it three weeks ago, and we still want it. There's no issue on money. We're ready to go."

Clottey (36-4, 22 KOs), best known for losses to Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, hasn't fought since a second-round knockout of Calvin Green in November 2011, which was his first fight in the 20 months following the loss to Pacquiao. Frankly, as long as Nelson is going to be on the show, and given the available opponents, getting Clottey to fight him in the opening bout of a smaller card isn't too bad. The universe of available, solid opponents is small.

"Other" Donaire still plugging away

August, 31, 2012
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Unified junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire is one of the pound-for-pound stars of boxing and now a regular on HBO, making high six-figure purses. His next fight headlines an Oct. 13 HBO card against former titlist Toshiaki Nishioka.

But then there is Glenn Donaire (19-4-1, 10 KOs), Nonito’s older brother, who at 32 is still plugging away trying to reach the promised land of a championship.

A pro since 2000, he has had his opportunities and lost a few fights along the way. Early in his career, he dropped a six-round decision to fellow prospect Gabriel Elizondo. In 2005, fellow Filipino Z Gorres knocked him out in the first round. Yet Donaire wound up getting two world title fights but could not capitalize. He lost a six-round technical decision challenging Vic Darchinyan for a flyweight title (which Darchinyan eventually lost by one-punch knockout to Nonito in 2007). And in 2008, Glenn Donaire lost a shutout decision to junior flyweight titlist Ulises “Archie” Solis.

After that loss, Donaire retired for 3 years. But since his return he has won two fights in a row, both televised by Telemundo, and looked pretty good both times. He stopped faded former strawweight titleholder Alex “Nene” Sanchez in December and won a competitive 12-round decision against former junior flyweight title challenger Omar Salado in March.

Donaire hooked up with manager Vinny Scolpino -- who has guided fighters such as Joshua Clottey and Joseph Agbeko -- to help him with his comeback, which will continue Sept. 14 (Telemundo) in Tampa against Omar Soto (22-9-2, 15 KOs), a former flyweight and junior flyweight title challenger. They’re meeting for a regional flyweight title that will help the winner move up one of the sanctioning body rankings and closer to a bigger title shot.

Scolpino has been encouraged by what he has seen in Donaire’s two return fights.

“I picked him up two fights ago. He was down in the dumps. I started managing him, got him two wins and he is back in the gym training hard,” Scolpino said. “He looked really good in Mexico City (in March in the Salado fight). I was a little worried because of the altitude, but he did a great job and now he’s going in with Soto, who is a tough opponent.”

With his name and an apparent rededication to boxing, Donaire might just be able to move into position for a title shot.

“We’re hoping after this fight we’ll get one,” Scolpino said. “We’ll take anybody. Glenn said, ‘I don’t care who they put in front of me, I just want to fight for a title and win a title.’”

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