STEVE MARCUS / LAS VEGAS SUN file
Thursday, June 11, 2009 | 2 a.m.
When Miguel Cotto enters the ring for Saturday night’s WBO welterweight title fight, it will be the fourth time since 2005 Cotto has fought at Madison Square Garden on the weekend of New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade.
His opponent, Joshua Clottey, a rugged, hungry and fundamentally sound boxer, plans to spoil the celebration this time around.
Clottey, looking to make a name for himself among boxing’s elite, will fight for his second world title in a row after beating Zab Judah in August for the IBF belt at the Palms.
Though Clottey has two losses on his record, both came under unusual circumstances. He was disqualified for a head butt against Carlos Baldomir in 1999, and suffered a broken hand during his fight against Antonio Margarito in 2006.
“I feel that I am undefeated,” Clottey (35-2, 20 knockouts) said. “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.”
The fight, a Top Rank promotion, will be televised by HBO (Cox cable channel 200, 7:35 p.m.).
Like the other June blowouts at the Garden featuring Cotto as a headliner, the card figures to be a box office success.
“We are really elated with the response,” Top Rank boss Bob Arum said. “The ticket sales are booming and our experience in a fight like this, compared to Cotto-Judah (in 2007), which was a sellout, we expect another complete sellout by fight night. Right now we have sold over 14,000 tickets and we are on our way to a sellout.”
Cotto (33-1, 27 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, is coming off a stoppage of Michael Jennings in his first fight since losing to Margarito last year at the MGM Grand. Margarito has since had his license suspended in California after an illegal substance was found in his hand wraps before his fight with Shane Mosley in January.
Clottey, a native of Accra, Ghana, who lives in the Bronx, attended the Jennings fight expecting to earn a shot at Cotto.
“Cotto accepted the fight and that was exactly what I wanted,” said Clottey, a 3-1 betting underdog Saturday. “I respect Cotto for giving me a chance, a chance to fight him. I respect that so much. I respect him because he is a man and he gave me the chance ...
“It is going to be a beautiful fight. It has been (almost) a year, so I need to bring my combinations back. I throw a lot of combinations, and I think it is going to be a good fight.”
Although the Cotto-Clottey fight is an attractive match in its own right, the winner could be in line for a megafight against Manny Pacquiao.
“I have said repeatedly that if Joshua Clottey wins the fight then he is in the Manny sweepstakes,” Arum said.
Las Vegas featherweight Clarence “Bones” Adams (43-6-4, 19 KOs) fights Alex Baba (26-15-1, 19 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder in the main event of Friday’s card at the Pearl at the Palms.
The undercard also has a Las Vegas flavor, with five local fighters scheduled to compete.
Angel Flores (9-3, 3 KOs) of Las Vegas faces Francisco Rios Gil (16-9, 11 KOs) in a super lightweight bout. Sharif Bogere (9-0, 6 KOs) of Las Vegas faces Broderick Antoine (5-7-1, 4 KOs) at super lightweight. Thomas Rittenbaugh (3-2-2, 0 KOs) faces Andre Himphill (7-11-2, 4 KOs) at super middleweight. Las Vegas fighters Renell Griffin (3-1, 1 KO) and Terrance Jett (4-13-2, 2 KOs) meet at super lightweight.
Tickets are $25, $50 and $75. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Chris John (42-0-2, 22 KOs) has been installed as a minus 275 betting favorite against Rocky Juarez (28-4-1, 20 KOs) in their June 27 featherweight title fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The two fought to a 12-round draw in February.
Juarez is 3-3-1 in his past seven fights, though his losses came against world-class boxers Marco Antonio Barrera (twice) and Juan Manuel Marquez.