ESPN.com is reporting that Manny Pacquiao has formally agreed to a March 13 fight with Joshua Clottey. As of the last report, Clottey was on his way back to the United States. He had been vacationing in his native Ghana when this all came up quite suddenly yesterday, and there's a question of whether or not he's up to date on the events at hand.
Top Rank has spoken with Vinny Scolpino, Clottey's manager, about the fight. I'd have to guess that with Top Rank promoting both fighters, Clottey's past willingness to fight top fighters, and the fact that he turned down a weak January 16 fight because he was unhappy with the money (of which there will be no shortage for him here), Clottey will agree. If this fight is truly Top Rank's priority, you'd have to be almost 100% certain that it will happen.
Clottey has been inactive since a debated June 13 decision loss to Miguel Cotto. He was then slated to fight Shane Mosley on December 26, but HBO pulled the plug on that in order to budget in a December 5 fight between Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams, which fell through. Clottey was also set to fight on that card against former welterweight titlist Carlos Quintana, which was canceled by Top Rank when Pavlik pulled out of the 12/5 card. There was talk of moving Mosley-Clottey to January, too, but when Clottey took the Quintana bout, Mosley and Golden Boy set up a bout with Andre Berto for January 30.
Top Rank had him set up for a fight with Michel Rosales on January 16, and Clottey balked, and in a lot of ways rightfully so. He deserves much bigger fights than that.
And fights don't get any bigger than having one against Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Whatever you might think of That Other Fight seemingly falling apart, Pacquiao-Clottey would present a whole new challenge for Manny. Clottey is a rock-solid welterweight who has never been stopped, and I don't even recall off the top of my head ever thinking he seemed particularly hurt. He's faced a lot of different styles and done pretty well against them all, from the tall and powerful Antonio Margario to the cunning and savvy Miguel Cotto to fast southpaw Zab Judah. None of those guys are Manny Pacquiao, but Manny Pacquiao's never faced a guy quite like Clottey, either, whose defense can be impenetrable at times. Not exactly the loose counter-punching of Juan Manuel Marquez or the bull-forward style of Ricky Hatton.
Styles make fights, and they might make this one a hell of an interesting battle.