Former welterweight titlist Joshua Clottey has turned down a $650,000 to fight Paul Williams at 154 pounds on December 5, and now he's defending the decision to do just that. Speaking with Ryan Burton, Clottey had this to say:
"I don't turn down any fights and I want the fight with Paul Williams. I have been telling you that for a long time. What is fair is fair. I haven't been in the gym for 5 days and I sent my trainer back home to Africa. If they want to fight me why didn't they call me first? Why did they negotiate with Sergio Martinez and Sergiy Dzinziruk first? They could have came to me right away and we would have a deal.
"We are only 5 weeks away from that date and they want me to fight for 650k? Ryan let me tell you something, I made less than that to fight Cotto and Cotto made millions. The arena was full. You were there you saw it. Now for this fight, Paul Williams is going to make a lot more than $1 million and you want to give me 650k to fight on short notice. That just isn't right. Either give me more money or move the fight back a few weeks so I can have a full 8 weeks to prepare."
It sounds reasonable enough, but the fact is both of these guys are faced with pretty limited options right now. Williams is basically trying to get anyone that'll fight, and Clottey...well, Clottey's screwed for a name opponent for a while now.
As Clottey says, $650,000 is more than he got to fight Cotto. If that seems low because he's a good fighter, remember that being a good fighter isn't the issue here. Williams-Clottey isn't going to draw a crowd. His reference to the full arena in June against Cotto ignores that that was 97% Cotto's doing. Williams has no fanbase, Clottey doesn't have a fanbase. As good as they both are in the ring, Williams-Clottey sounds like the kind of fight that does 1,200 at the live gate in Vegas or, well, just about anywhere else. Maybe 2,500-3,000 or so if you stick it in an "out-of-the-way" place like Spokane, Wash., and promote like hell in the local market, which is something promoters were trying a while back that seemed to work OK.
$650K for this fight seems more than fair to me as an observer. Williams also does hold an interim title at 154. And Clottey has been training, and he's been training for a southpaw, to boot. His attempt to hold them up for more than $650K just doesn't seem like a smart move, because that already seems fairly generous, and it kind of seems like the combined purses here might lead to Goossen Tutor and HBO taking a bath on this show in the interest of getting a good fight out there.
There is also no chance that the fight will be pushed back "a few weeks," considering HBO scrapped plans for Mosley-Clottey on December 26 when they apparently and suddenly realized that December 26 is close to Christmas.
As for why he went to Martinez and Dzinziruk first -- well, they're 154-pound fighters, and titleholders in the division, too. It's nothing to do with "ignoring" Clottey, who prefers to fight at welterweight and has no "extra incentive." Martinez, Dzinziruk and Clottey are all more than suitable replacement opponents for Williams on December 5. It's not like he's trying to find an easy fight here.