CLOTTEY DELIVERS SEASON’S BEATINGS TO ALVAREZ
As boxing began closing shop for the holidays, Joshua Clottey turned in one more fight in an active 2007, handing Shamone Alvarez his first defeat and earning a mandatory shot at IBF Welterweight Champion Kermit Cintron sometime in the coming year.
Alvarez was making an enormous leap in opposition against Clottey, but with a title opportunity on the line and taking his age of 30 into account, the elimination bout was too good to turn down. He managed to keep the bout interesting in the early rounds, upping his tempo to try to throw Clottey, who was facing his first southpaw opponent in a decade, off his game, but Clottey eventually discovered he could take Alvarez’ best shots and began fighting the way he wanted to fight. Clottey seemed to briefly stun Alvarez several times and make him rethink his situation as early as round two.
Alvarez managed to sneak in his share of shots through Clottey’s guard and seemed on the verge of winning his first round in the third until a last second rally by Clottey saw him tucked between the ropes and covering up after eating a straight right. Clottey continued the punishment in round four by ripping Alvarez to the body with both hands but then went into a shell for a while, allowing Alvarez to box him and land his first clean shots of the night. Alvarez’ biggest problem, aside from appearing unable to faze Clottey, was that he wasted more than one opportunity to capitalize by complaining to Referee Jay Nady that Clottey was butting him as he came in. Nady warned Clottey about the fouling before the end of the round and looked close to taking a point but never followed through on his warnings.
With Alvarez essentially unable to hurt him, Clottey threw caution to the wind and started ripping Alvarez to the body in round four, landing a low blow that Alvarez stopped to complain about to Nady. After absorbing a pair of left hooks, Clottey blasted Alvarez with a left hook-straight right combination, followed by more stuffing shots that seemed to stun Alvarez and closed out a dominant round for the fighter from Ghana.
The middle of the fight is where Alvarez shone most brightly as he appeared to pick up back-to-back rounds. Though Clottey continued to land the better punches in rounds six and seven, Alvarez landed more clean blows, none of which fazed Clottey. The situation made for an odd scene as Clottey looked like he wanted to coax Alvarez into trading punches with him but failed to take advantage when Alvarez obliged.
Clottey picked up the pace in the eighth round, landing some solid uppercuts on Alvarez, who responded to the increased aggression by keeping his distance. By round nine, Alvarez was bleeding from the mouth as he suffered a body shot, followed by a sharp uppercut. Clottey followed with two stuffing right hands through the guard that knocked Alvarez back. From there, Clottey began biding his time, stalking Alvarez and landing punches when he saw openings he liked. In round eleven, Clottey took a sharp left hand but immediately answered with a pair of hard right hands to Alvarez. Clottey appeared more than able to knock Alvarez out but eased off in the championship rounds, realizing he didn’t need an impressive victory to earn a bout with Cintron, just any victory whatsoever. To confirm this suspicion, Clottey kept his distance from Alvarez after a fairly action-packed and even twelfth round that Clottey probably won with the better punches.
By the time the judges turned in their scorecards, the winner was obvious, but the scores were somewhat questionable. Scores of 115-113 and 116-112 seemed far too close while a third card of 118-110 felt just right. As for the fighters themselves, there was no doubt in either’s mind as Clottey embraced a dissatisfied Alvarez before the winner was announced. Clottey claimed the unanimous decision and earned what should be a Spring bout with Cintron, who was prevented from facing WBO Champion Paul Williams due to an injured hand suffered against Jesse Feliciano in November. The bout with Cintron would be particularly appealing given the aggressive styles of both men. As for Williams, Clottey might want to avoid him given the moments, however few and far between, that Alvarez gave him trouble on this night.