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Clottey has a fighting chance against Cotto

As far as I can tell, Joshua Clottey is quick, though I'm pretty sure he's not faster than a speeding bullet.

He punches hard, but I doubt that he's more powerful than a locomotive.

And he's athletic, but he's probably not able to leap a tall building in a single bound.

He is, alas, not Superman.

Nor is he the next coming of Sugar Ray Robinson, which you might start to believe after listening to the hype surrounding his World Boxing Organization welterweight title fight at Madison Square Garden on Saturday with Miguel Cotto.

He's a quality fighter who stands a chance of handing Cotto his second professional defeat.

It's unlikely – it says here that Cotto wins a grueling unanimous decision in a physical, highly entertaining inside battle – but it wouldn't be Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson if he does.

It's even more unlikely that he'll get a chance to fight pound-for-pound Manny Pacquiao, even though promoter Bob Arum defiantly says Clottey is "in the Manny sweepstakes" should he win.

He's in it, but he won't win it, even if he knocks Cotto flat in the first round. He's virtually anonymous outside of the hard core boxing fans, and Pacquiao's fights are now exclusively on pay-per-view and require an opponent who will connect with fans and sell both tickets and pay-per-views.

Clottey would do neither, which means that the best he can hope for after Saturday's fight is to have his name mentioned. Susan Boyle has a better chance of winning Miss Universe than Clottey does of landing a fight with Pacquiao.

That is the truth, though it's not to say he isn't a formidable foe. He is 35-2 and has quality welterweight victories over guys like Zab Judah and Diego Corrales. His only losses were a disqualification to Carlos Baldomir in a fight in which he was comfortably ahead and a unanimous decision to Antonio Margarito in a bout in which he injured his left hand.

Clottey suggested he should be regarded as undefeated, but I regard myself as the King of England. No one, however, has handed me a crown yet and the only throne I've been around has a toilet paper roll next to it.

He injured his left hand in the fourth round against Margarito, though he didn't break it. And while the injury didn't help his chances of winning the bout, it didn't help Margarito's chances when he came in with a sprained left ankle.

Clottey lost, fair and square, and was clearly beaten. Two of the judges gave Margarito eight of the 12 rounds and the third scored 10 of the 12 rounds for the Mexican.

If he deserves to be considered undefeated after that, I want some of what he's smoking.

"I feel that I am undefeated," Clottey said. "I really want to get to Cotto. When I get to the ring and Cotto beats me fairly, I will tell everybody that I lost for the first time. But for now, I doubt that I am going to lose. I feel I am going to win the fight now."

Clottey is a relentless pressure fighter who won't be intimidated by Cotto, which will give him a big edge over many of the Puerto Rican's previous opponents. He's always in phenomenal shape and has the ability to absorb punishment and continue to attack.

It's less than a year since Cotto was beaten down by Margarito in a Fight of the Year candidate in Las Vegas. His only fight in the interim was a gimmee against Michael Jennings, who wouldn't have beaten Cotto had he been allowed to wear brass knuckles under his gloves.

Clottey is Cotto's first legitimate opponent since the Margarito fight and he plans to test Cotto's fortitude.

"Cotto is a very smart fighter," Clottey said. "If he is not going to stand there and fight, I am going to chase him all over. If he does stand there and fight it is going to be a beautiful fight. My combinations and hand speed and my body shots are going to make it a beautiful fight. It all depends on what he is going to do.

"If he runs and keeps running, I will keep chasing him. The body shots are going to affect both of us, because I am going to hit the body a lot. If he is going to feel the body shots, then he’s got a problem. If I feel the body shots then I’ve got a problem. I am well prepared for anything that happens."

If he should win, it would be the biggest victory of his life, surpassing his triumphs over Judah, Corrales and Richard Gutierrez, a win that Clottey considers his most significant because of his battles leading up to that fight with his weight.

There is almost nothing he can do, though, to land the fight that every welterweight wants, and that's the one against Manny Pacquiao.

For that matter, there's nothing he can do to get himself a bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr., who returns to boxing on July 18 with a bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas against Juan Manuel Marquez.

It may not be fair, but it's reality. Clottey, though, understands what he's up against. And he just wants to take the best fights, because he knows that's the quickest way to the biggest paychecks, even if he won't be able to land the ultimate prize.

"It is very hard to talk about the fighters from Africa or from Europe because you don't always see them," Clottey said. "They are beating the good fighters, but it is not recognized (by the American media) and (we are) not given the credit. So I am not worried about that at all, because I am from far away.

"But I am a different caliber of boxer. I know when Cotto is coming and I know what I do in the ring. You have to respect me, but I know there are people that don't respect me. I am OK with whatever I do in my life. For me to feed my family is OK by me."