The substitute

Joshua Clottey won boxing's lottery. No one would blame him for giving back his ticket.

Updated: March 1, 2010, 4:05 PM ET
By Chris Jones | ESPN The Magazine
Michel Comte for ESPN The MagazineJoshua Clottey will face Manny Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium on March 13.

This story appears in the March 8 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Joshua Clottey arrives at Contenders Gym in Fort Lauderdale for the second consecutive afternoon. His black eyes cast around the place, February clouds rolling through the glass doors behind him. A boxer's camp before a big fight normally has a romance about it: Muhammad Ali holding court in Deer Lake; Lennox Lewis running through snow in the Poconos; Oscar De La Hoya chopping wood in Big Bear. But there's no romance at Contenders. There isn't even a working shower. It's a single-ring gym at a community athletic complex named Carter Park, marked by only a small blue plaque that says Activity Room. Two local fighters shadowbox nearby in board shorts and running shoes; one is wearing a Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles T-shirt. This is not what the dream is supposed to look like.

Chris Jones is a feature writer for ESPN The Magazine. He is also a Writer at Large for Esquire.