Clottey clobbers Corrales
Making his 147lb debut, Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales found himself facing an immovable object in the form of tough veteran Joshua Clottey.
Clottey thoroughly beat the former world champion in a one sided yet entertaining ten round welterweight fight at the Shrine Mosque, Springfield, Missouri.
The former super featherweight and lightweight world champion entered the fight with Clottey to mixed forecasts by the boxing press. Many thought that the two weight jump from 135 to 147lbs would prove a bridge too far for the battle worn Californian. Others maintained that Corrales" height (5ft 11") and power would make the jump 12lbs north of the lightweight limit a more comfortable transition.
After two straight losses, Corrales" career, one would think, hinged on victory against Clottey - the 12 year pro who ran Antonio Margarito close in his last outing until a hand injury derailed his challenge. Corrales displayed all of the hunger and heart that has defined his 11 year professional career but never looked like troubling the tough Ghanaian, who took whatever Corrales could muster up and gave it back with interest over ten rounds.
Clottey (31-2 19KO) did a fine job in the opening round, covering up and blocking early combinations from Corrales (40-5 33KO) who threw in bunches, behind his jab, from the outside. The difference in power, however, showed mid way through as the Ghanaian battered Corrales to the body and head – clearly stunning the three time world champion on several occasions – most notably by a big right hand, as the round came to a close that had Corrales on shaky legs.
Clottey remained the sharper fighter in the second and he punished Corrales on the inside – a position that the welterweight debutant unwisely found himself in from the beginning of the round. A three punch combination upstairs again stunned Corrales at the end of the round as the pace set by Clottey seemed to upset the Californian.
Corrales had more success in the third and fourth rounds, as he banged away at the body of Clottey as the African fighter"s output slowed slightly. Chico began to connect more frequently with hard left hooks to the head of Clottey, who countered with sporadic, yet telling, counter combinations off the back of his water tight defense throughout the action.
Corrales maintained a steady output throughout the fight and in the fifth; he threw an impressive volume of punches. Clottey, however, never really felt the effect of the Californian"s power and opened up on Corrales in spurts with vicious combinations that showcased both his incredible hand speed and power.
Corrales was clearly being out muscled in the fight and it became clear in the sixth that his decision to fight on the inside was the key to his losing the bout. His trainer, Dickie Wood, implored Corrales to abandon the close quarter"s strategy and engage the stronger man from the outside. Corrales" heart and warrior"s instinct made that close to impossible however and he continued to rest his head on Clottey"s, trading with the career welterweight on the inside until the final bell.
Realizing that he was winning the fight and that he could easily find Corrales at any point, Clottey continued to rely on his defense – deflecting the majority of Corrales" punches and picking his moments to unleash his power against the chin and ribcage of his opponent.
Corrales doggedly fought back in the eighth round and he took Clottey"s punches well initially as both men, tired by this stage, blasted each other to the body. Towards the end of the three minutes, Clottey again emerged from his defensive stance to rattle Corrales with a three punch combination that, if landed earlier in the round, would surely have had Chico on the brink of suffering his fourth knockout loss.
The bell saved the courageous 29-year-old who walked wearily back to his corner, surely in the knowledge that he was in deep trouble. Clottey, patient until that point, came out aggressively in the ninth and bullied Corrales from the outset. A crunching left hook 90 seconds into the round again wobbled Corrales, who stumbled against the ropes as he ate a follow-up hook to the head. Clearly on borrowed time, Chico gamely fought back in an attempt to stem the flow of punishment that Clottey continued to subject him to.
The Ghanaian hit the sweet spot in the final minute of the round as he landed flush with a massive right hand that finally sent Corrales to the deck. Bloodied and stunned, Corrales pulled himself off the canvas, only to be met with a barrage of punches in the final seconds that punctuated a fine round for Clottey as the bell sounded.
Clottey"s superior power and ability to easily digest Corrales" punches, dictated the direction of the tenth and final round. Corrales, clearly, would draw on whatever he had left in the tank and drive full throttle in search of a knockout – the only way possible that he could win the fight. Clottey"s reaction was as anticipated – he held his hands high and waited for the right moment to counter his jelly legged foe. That moment came as Chico punched his way inside. Clottey countered perfectly with a right hook that forced the gutsy Corrales to the floor for the second time.
After a brief respite while referee Mike England deducted a point from Corrales for spitting out his mouthpiece (sound familiar?), the action resumed. There would be no miraculous comeback this time though as Clottey, content that he had done enough for the evening, kept his distance from Corrales as the final bell sounded.
If winners were crowned purely on the strength of courage, Corrales would be unbeaten right now. Never, at any time throughout this fight, did he voluntarily take a backward step. After three consecutive losses, however, and his admission that he could never again campaign south of 147lbs, it seems that his career at the highest level of the sport might be at an end.
Clottey, for his part, rebounds perfectly from his close loss to WBO titlist Antonio Margarito in December. As he battles his way back to a world title shot, Clottey"s potential adversaries will have, no doubt, taken notice of tonight"s performance.
Scores: 97-90; 98-89; 100-87.