I'm still buzzing about the fact that Floyd Mayweather (right) and Canelo Alvarez (left) signed this week to fight in September. It's been more than a decade since Mayweather has done this: taken on his undisputed most threatening opponent, in Alvarez's case a bigger, stronger, full-fledged junior middleweight who is coming into his own and established himself as the top man at 154. When boxing's best fighter and its most marketable fighter is behaving in a sporting fashion, it's a good week for boxing. And because Mayweather is the #2 ranked Transnational Boxing Rankings Board junior middleweight, he'll eligible to win the lineal junior middleweight crown, which would mean he'd tie a feat only one other fighter has accomplished, his rival Manny Pacquiao -- a true championship in a fourth division.
This being boxing, though, of course there are still cynics. And it's not like everything they're saying is wrong, really, because boxing warrants a fair amount of cynicism. Yes, the 152-pound catchweight is a bummer, especially since Mayweather has previously scoffed at catchweights and Canelo could be drained by even those two pounds, but I don't generally hate catchweights as much as some and Canelo's team says he'll be fine, so it's not THAT much of a bummer. Yes, Mayweather is fighting Canelo before he has fully matured as a fighter, and that's a strategic maneuver akin to his usual thinking about choosing his opponents at the wisest moment, but it's better that he's fighting him on this side of the hill rather than the other, and while Canelo is an unfinished product you don't beat a fighter like Austin Trout if you ain't legit. And yes, this is probably a sign that the Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view didn't do as well as Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions have proclaimed, and Mayweather-Alvarez is more a necessity to make up for lost ground than some kind of pure fan-pleasing maneuver on everyone's part, but whatever, it could approach 2 milion PPV buys (I think it'll come in at something like 1.7 or 1.8, at this juncture) and it's getting us the best available top-to-bottom match-up in the sport right now, so I'll take it how I can get it.
Before we delve into some overdue Quick Jabs, you may have noticed that Sam Sheppard has been writing a fair amount around these parts. He's joined the staff, officially, so please welcome him aboard.
It's going to be a pretty Floyd + Manny-related QJ, so if that doesn't interest you, skip ahead a good deal. Mayweather's stable of fighters keeps coming up positive in drug tests, first Mickey Bey and now J'Leon Love. Obviously, Mayweather can't babysit all of his fighters all of the time. But Mayweather's original drug test demands for a fight with Pacquiao were something Floyd portrayed as his bid to clean up the sport, and maybe it looks bad if he can't get his own promotional team's drug house in order -- not just with after-the-fact punishment, as promised, but before-the-fact education and perhaps even advanced testing...
There have been some scattered reports to the contrary, but most indicators still point toward Pacquiao and Brandon Rios using the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association for their upcoming welterweight bout. This is important for at least one big reason: Rios is a client of Angel Heredia, who has admitted to supplying athletes with performance enhancing drugs in the past, and no Heredia boxing clients have undergone advanced drug testing yet. I'm of the mind that Heredia and his rival, convicted drug peddler Victor Conte, are both figures who ought to draw real skepticism in boxing. Since Conte's clients have undergone advanced testing and come up clean (albeit with VADA, an organization Conte once claimed he helped establish), the edge in shadiness has gone to Heredia thus far; if Rios comes up clean via VADA, they're on more level footing on that count. Another argument Conte makes about why he's more trustworthy than Heredia is that Heredia "snitched" on others to avoid jail time, but Conte once offered to do some snitching of his own in exchange for leniency with the courts, which is a distinction without any significant difference. There were some criticisms of us running an interview with Heredia on this site last week, but whether he's a scumbag or not, I'm interested in hearing from everyone in the sport, because at least we then get a better sense of what someone's about. Hell, I've watched interviews with Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson, and Heredia isn't worse than those guys. That said, the criticisms of that piece by Conte himself on Twitter -- that we were somehow Heredia's "journalistic buddies" selectively editing Conte's remarks on Heredia's behalf -- were asinine. We gave Conte ample space, and I encouraged the author Kelsey McCarson to seek out additional quotes from the original draft; the full thrust of Conte's remarks were captured in that space; everyone else in the story also didn't get every word they spoke to us in print, which is the only way anyone can ever write a reasonably-sized news story or interview; I've just said, explicitly, and have before, that I consider Heredia a figure who should be viewed skeptically; and Conte hasn't seen fit to publish the remarks he made to us on his Twitter feed or elsewhere, which is all the evidence you need that we didn't leave out anything crucial, and that all Conte was probably really upset about was that we ran an article focused on Heredia...
One more drug testing note: In this interview, Richard Ings, a former anti-doping official in Australia, observes that boxing's drug testing woes are only fixed "cosmetically" by voluntary testing, and that stricter measures are needed. I think he's right on the second point, but voluntary testing has already popped a number of fighters for testing postive, which means they're doing more than just "cosmestic" good. Yes, it's haphazard good, fleeting good, but it's good nonetheless. The problem with what Ings is proposing is that it is, at this moment, virtually impossible. There is no government in the world that's going to step up testing regimes to the extent Ings is talking about, and certainly not state goverments that are cutting services, not expanding them. It's why I've liked the idea of promoters and networks taking the lead and paying for advanced testing. Until something dramatic changes, voluntary testing isn't enough, but it's better than nothing...
OK, back to Pacquiao. The congressman has been accused of "mauling" a barangay captain, which isn't as cool as if he had been in a fight with a ship's captain, because then if Pacquiao had bopped him good his corn cob pipe would've gone flying out and his golden buttons would've popped off his coat and all that. In all seriousness, I hope the allegation isn't true; Pacquiao has said that, in fact, it was the captain who was misbehaving -- like shooting-a-gun-at-his-supporters misbehavior. Filipino politics has a Wild West element to it, from what I can tell, so who knows when or if we'll ever find out what really happened...
Amir Khan was briefly appointed by the WBC as the #2 welterweight despite having not fought at the weight yet, and now that it looks like Khan won't be facing Mayweather for his 147-pound title, he's back out of the rankings again. This is why the "reform the sanctioning organizations" notion won't work -- their model of sanctioning fees for title shots and percentages of purses means they'll always, always, always do absurd things to chase money, and have never shown any shame or indicated any desire to reform themselves...
And in the last bit of news even remotely connectable to Pacquiao or Mayweather, Guerrero is getting off light with the authorities over his gun-in-NYC-airport adventure. I say this purely as a boxing fan, and it reflects not one bit on my views about gun laws: I'm glad Guerrero isn't going to jail...
Predictably, Carl Froch's super middleweight rematch with Mikkel Kessler did so-so ratings on HBO. I say "predictably" because as good as the rematch was on paper and as much as hardcore fans were looking forward to a good action bout, overseas fights often do poor ratings and the afternoon start time didn't help. That said, if you combine the afternoon and evening dates, it gets to respectable, and if you figure it didn't cost them much, it's even more respectable. What it doesn't get to is a higher rating than Andre Ward's last fight on HBO. The boxing scribe who remarked that fans would rather see a bout like Froch-Kessler II than Ward-Chad Dawson can't be talking about the United States, because mathematically that's just not true. I still think Ward needs to go overseas if he wants a shot at Froch again, and his team has softened its rhetoric on that count; on the other hand, they did Ward no favors by calling out retired Joe Calzaghe...
For a few days on the Internet recently, fans and writers gnashed their teeth or celebrated the alleged un-retirement of Antonio Margarito, based on a story sourced ENTIRELY to "rumors." Sometimes those "rumors" will be right, and sometimes they won't. This time, they weren't. Congrats on wasting your time on specuation based on total falsehoods that you wouldn't have had to waste your time on if you applied a little critical reading to things, Interwebs...
Somehow, cruiserweight Denis Lebedev's eye -- swollen to the size of an orbitable planet during his bout with Guillermo Jones -- was said to be a-OK after he was released from the hospital...
A few outlets have reported that ESPN2 lost its Friday Night Fights chief in the Worldwide Leader's personnel cuts. Doug Loughrey hasn't always put on consistently quality cards, but he sure has gotten a lot done with comparatively tiny budgets, and his replacement has some big shoes to fill...
I had wondered whether the Lamont Peterson-Lucas Matthysse card in Atlantic City going the same night as Peterson's fellow D.C. star Dusty Harrison was fighting back home would divide the market, and I now have reason to believe it did. Our old friend Gautham Nagesh reported that the Harrison show was nearly full in a 3,000-seat venue, while the D.C. cheering section in A.C. was a bit thin -- an unfortunate splitting of a growing market, it would now seem to me. Check out the aforelinked Stiff Jab if you want to see how the D.C. card went in greater detail.
I’d like to hear from the reporters involved full time at the Queensberry Rules (and readers of course) about the whole drugs/PED thing because it really is getting pretty disturbing. It seems every time I start watching the fights, there’s something about doping on it and it appears it’s getting to the level of athletics and cycling.
As I currently live in Mexico, we of course get bombarded by the famous knockout of Pacquiao by Juan Manuel Marquez. I have seen over a multitude of forums and blogs now, how people are saying that he was doping – ‘how could he possibly get that big in 3-5 months’ etc. etc. He has been asked on a number of occasions on the TV here ‘have you ever taken anything’, (I remember there was talk of it before his 3rd fight with Pac) and he’s categorically denied it and is a very strong advocate against it.
I mean, I personally believe he could get to that size through conditioning/training in the right way – if he has people around him that really know their stuff, is it not possible?
However, now that I have heard it so much – the doubt has started to enter my mind, so I’d be intrigued to hear what the boxing press has to say about that particular fight. I realise there will always be idiots who automatically accuse of doping with no evidence at all – but now that I’ve heard it so much about that particular fight, I did get to wondering. Is it possible Marquez doped and how is it not possible that OST does not go on for such massive fights as that??? Is that the first thing you’d want in the contract, as a fighter?
And a purely ‘what if’ situation, let’s say, a fighter is doping and that guy kills his opponent in the ring, could that be construed as manslaughter/murder? I mean, that’s got to be a pretty big thing to have on your conscience if you do.
I personally don’t think boxing is doing enough at all to curb this – in fact it seems it’s almost as bad as football (soccer). What football has done is essentially failed to recognise the problem exists. It’s as if they’ve said ‘we don’t want a silly misdermeanor like doping to get in the way of people watching their favourite players (who happen to make the football world a shed load of cash in the process)….we just won’t do anything about it’.
At least athletics/cycling has now caught a number of dopers and each time it seems to drive fundamental changes to the sport. I mean, most athletes get life bans for it. Boxing seems to slap people on the wrist and they’re back within a year and it’s a complete joke considering they: 1. can kill people, 2. Are obtaining an unfair advantage and 3. Can just continue to practice in most cases.
I heard that, when Chavez Jr. was busted for marihuana use and he was given a 9 month ban, the commission took 3 months to reach its decision, another 3 months to argue its case with Chavez Jr. as to whether it was fair and Chavez trained for his next fight for the last 3 months so basically, he was totally unaffected the punishment (apart from the money thing). In the end, it was revoked anyway. It’s just unbelievable!
The thing with boxing and football (and where other sports differ) is that because there is so much money riding on these two sports, they feel it’s best to brush it under the carpet. This cannot be further from the reality which is that, in the long run, it will seriously damage the sport. Boxing is very healthy today – but the more it keeps serving up people who cheat, the more fans will start walking away from the sport.
I realise the sport of boxing says ‘but the testing is really expensive’ – surely they can’t use that as an excuse, can they? The amount of money fights make?
A few, well trained/placed/incorruptible testers going round fighters and randomly testing people wouldn’t cost THAT much and I’m sure they’d start making a significant dent in the sport in general.
Being a Brit, the whole way the Peterson scandal affected Khan of course makes you bitter because it counts as a loss on his record, the commission make a lame attempt to give him his title back etc. etc., it’s all too little, too late. And then Peterson’s back in the ring in just over a year.
Anyway, apologies for the rant – like to hear people’s opinions.
I am a Filipino and I personally know how politics is in the Philippines. But not everything that you see in the papers is true, in all areas especially in politics during elections. Black propaganda have always been on the table. But no, this is not true about Pacquiao and this has been cleared in print. I can say Pacquiao is a really good politician, definitely not bright or intelligent, but service and honesty-wise he is a very effective public servant. Eversince he became a "born again" christian, nothing can be ill said against him. He truly lives by the "word of God", but of course he is not perfect as nobody is, anyway. With that said, I am sure he will never again be an effective "fighter" because of this fact. I wished he was just a full-time boxer because that's where he is good at and that's what helped our country. But maybe God has better plans.
Indeed. Although he took on his top challenge at 135, too, against a man forever linked to Corrales -- Jose Luis Castillo.
@AlastairBartlett 1. I wouldn't say any of us here are full-time reporters. We're all part-time writers, and part of the time we're just giving our opinions -- sometimes, though, we do get to do original reporting. Just keep that in mind.
2. I do think it's POSSIBLE JMM got where he was naturally. I think it's also wise to be skeptical of Memo Heredia. No one knows anything for sure about whether he did it naturally or unnaturally, but one hopes that he'll undergo some advanced testing in his next fight to ease some of those doubts. On the other hand, Heredia is a guy who has bragged about beating tests in the past, so I don't think the doubts can ever truly go away as long as Marquez is working with Heredia.
3. I don't know the law well enough to say for sure that a boxer who killed another fighter in the ring while under the influence of PEDs would face any kind of charges. First, he'd have to get caught with the PEDs in his system, and that's not a given. Then, I don't know what would happen.
4. Boxing has done very, very little to address all this. Part of it is that "boxing" doesn't exist in a way that can do something about anything. There are no owners -- just promoters, managers, networks, state commissions and fighters, all operating at cross purposes, and none of the people in power are in a position to fix this problem as a whole.
5. Penalties are too light for my tastes as well.
6. Testing by VADA and USADA costs, at minimum, tens of thousands of dollars. It's why it only happens for the higher level fights, and then rarely, because, well, tens of thousands of dollars is a lot of money for anyone.
@JDRegala09 Thanks for the information.
Thanks for the reply. I completely agree with you, it shows incredibly bad judgement for JMM to try and distance himself (and be very vocal about PEDs) from this issue and at the same time pull Heredia in to his camp, someone who’s bragged about being able to beat OST and who has also been busted for it right? JMM isn’t stupid, he must have known people were going to start questioning his win. Although I’m not sure he really cares now. Maybe the person who really should have paid attention to it was Pacquiao more than anyone!
I had no clue it cost that much for this testing – I mean, that also can only work against the sport. Maybe some form of sponsorship deal should be done with one of them. It’s ironic actually, the only people who seem to remember about a boxers PED abuse are the fans – because all the commissions/promoters etc. seem to conveniently forget about it once they’ve done their ‘6 months out of the sport’ (or whatever it is).
I know, what ‘Boxing’ really needs to do is to take a leaf out of the mafias book and get all the ‘heads of the family’ together! Or create some sort of a task force charged with making strides in to this whole business.
I’m so tired of hearing about how this guy cheated and that guy cheated – it takes away from the legit boxers who never touch anything and who are probably destined to stay ‘average’ as a result. I saw a programme a while ago and one of the experts said someone who lived an incredibly unhealthy lifestyle could PED up and beat elite athletes comfortably. That gives you an idea of how much of an advantage it is!