[PHOTO AT LEFT - Josh Clottey]

MANILA, JANUARY 9, 2010 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Josh Clottey, who gave Miguel Cotto a tough fight last June, has surfaced as Manny Pacquiao’s possible opponent in March.

Mike Koncz, Pacquiao’s adviser, yesterday said he and the Filipino boxing superstar talked about the possibility of facing the 33-year-old hitter from Ghana after plans of going up against Yuri Foreman, the 5-foot-11 light-middleweight champion, were aborted.

“It was supposed to be a secret,” said Koncz of having Clottey, who is also under Top Rank, as Pacquiao’s opponent either in March 13 or March 20. “But suddenly I get calls from the media and it’s all over the Internet. Manny and I talked about it and he said he’ll see.”

Koncz said they may come up with something concrete “in a day or two.” He said Pacquiao just got a little concerned with Foreman’s height and weight advantage even if there was a chance for him to win an eighth world title in eight different weight categories.

Koncz also said facing Paulie Malignaggi wouldn’t make Pacquiao look good, and at the same time there’s nothing to gain and nothing to prove fighting Juan Manuel Marquez, actually the last fighter who came close to beating Pacquiao on the ring, a third time.

Clottey, who lost a split decision to Cotto when others felt he should have won, is probably the best fight out there for Pacquiao.

Pacquiao and his promoter, Bob Arum, are shopping for a new opponent after negotiations for the superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was declared dead the other day due to serious disagreements on the drug-testing and blood-testing procedures.

Mayweather said he has never backed out of the fight and just wanted Pacquiao to agree to have a blood test 14 days before the fight. Pacquiao said he just won’t do it, and instead agreed to have his blood tested 24 days before the fight. Again, there was no deal made.

Meanwhile, Cebuano matchmaker and another Pacquiao adviser, Wakee Salud, said there’s still a chance that the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, which should be the biggest in the new century, could be saved. He offered a simple formula that both camps may look into.

“If Manny wants a blood test 24 days before the fight and Mayweather wants it 14 days before the fight, then why don’t they meet halfway. Minus five days for Manny and plus five days for Floyd. Maybe they can both agree to a blood test 19 days before the fight,” he said.

Salud said there’s so much money on the table, money that’s enough to cover more than a dozen other title fights, for the boxers to totally turn their backs on it. He said it’s the fight the public wants to see, and it’s the responsibility of the boxers and their promoters to make it happen.

“It’s like an Ali-Frazier fight not happening because of disagreements with the blood testing. This fight should happen. Either in March or later on, they need to make this happen. Again, maybe they can agree to blood tests 19 days before the fight and another immediately after,” said Salud.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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