Things are not always as they seem in boxing, which is par for the course. You'll understand the confounding events that threaten the hotly anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao a lot better if you understand that in boxing, what one says publicly isn't always what one means.
Leonard Ellerbe, the chief executive officer of Mayweather Promotions and the unbeaten star's best friend, said he and Mayweather adviser Al Haymon came up with the idea for the random Olympic-style drug testing as a way to protect their fighter.
On the surface, it makes perfect sense. Who, after all, would want to fight someone who has been chemically enhanced?
Though Ellerbe vehemently denies suggestions it's anything but that, one has to wonder.
Consider that Haymon is one of boxing's most powerful figures. He is, in essence, Mayweather's manager. He's also the manager of a number of other elite boxers. He operates well below the radar and does not speak to the media, but his influence upon the sport is enormous.
Among the Haymon-managed boxers is Andre Berto, who is fighting Shane Mosley in Las Vegas on Jan. 30.
It would stand to reason that if Haymon were truly concerned about Berto's physical well-being, as Ellerbe says he is about Mayweather's, that he'd have already requested that Mosley submit to such testing.
Mosley, after all, actually has used steroids and other performance enhancing substances, which he testified to in a federal court hearing in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case.
Mosley testified that he inadvertently used two designer steroids, known as "the cream" and "the clear," prior to his 2003 fight with Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas. He also admitted to using Erythropoietin, or EPO.
However, Mosley insisted he was misled by Victor Conte, BALCO's president and founder. Conte emphatically denied misleading Mosley and said he disclosed to all athletes who worked with him what he was doing.
The facts are that Manny Pacquiao has never been found to use performance enhancing drugs; he denies vehemently any suggestion that he has, though just because he hasn't been caught doesn't mean he hasn't used it.
Mosley managed to avoid detection and passed the post-fight urinalysis given to him by the Nevada commission in 2003 because the substances he used were undetectable at the time.
Yet, Haymon is insisting upon random testing to protect Mayweather, but he's not taken the same action to protect Berto, who is fighting someone who is an admitted user.
"There has been no discussion at all about that kind of testing for that (Berto-Mosley) fight," said Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Absurdities abound in this fiasco, which has removed much of the luster from a fight that literally had even non-boxing fans captivated.
No one in this mess looks good.
Pacquiao created much of it himself by simply refusing to accede to the testing, which would include random blood and urine draws. If Pacquiao had agreed, the fight would be signed and he wouldn't be complaining that his reputation has been damaged.
He claims he's afraid of needles but has tattoos all over his body. He said he fears giving blood close to an event weakens him, but he gave a sample on April 8, about three weeks prior to his May 2 fight with Ricky Hatton, to fulfill his Nevada licensing requirements.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, whose company is representing Mayweather, has consistently spoken out of both sides of his mouth. He's sounded righteously indignant when discussing Pacquiao's refusal to agree to the testing, but he flat refused to consider additional testing in 2008 when Zab Judah demanded it prior to his planned fight with Mosley.
In a March 25, 2008, interview with the Associated Press, Schaefer said Mosley would only comply with tests required by the Nevada Athletic Commission and nothing more.
"Whatever tests they (the Nevada Athletic Commission) want them to take, Shane will submit to that," Schaefer said in the Associated Press story. "We are not going to do other tests than the Nevada commission requires. The fact is Shane is not a cheater and he does not need to be treated like one."
When asked how he could justify his stance given his public comments regarding a partner in his company in 2008, Schaefer said he's subsequently educated himself. Now, he said, Mosley is willing to take any and all tests requested, when requested, and has no issue with blood draws.
"The fact is, I'm not a drug-testing expert," Schaefer said. "I know many media members don't know the difference between urine and blood testing, either. The last few days, I really educated myself on this topic. It doesn't make me an expert, but I know the difference now between blood and urine testing. Some substances are detected more readily in urine and others are more readily discovered in the blood. Now that I have this knowledge I have gained, I believe it's important that Shane Mosley submit to any tests requested."
Top Rank's Bob Arum got so frustrated by the demands from the Mayweather camp that he initiated talks with representatives of Paulie Malignaggi.
How does that make sense given that Malignaggi is the one boxer who actually has accused Pacquiao of using performance-enhancing substances? If you're Arum and you're convinced Mayweather is using the testing request as a way to either harass or smear Pacquiao, why would you subsequently offer a fight with Pacquiao to the one guy who actually accused him of using PEDs?
And then there's De La Hoya, who talks out of both sides of his mouth so often it's not even funny. De La Hoya, who is the president of Golden Boy Promotions, continues to use his blog on the GBP-owned Ring magazine website as a personal propaganda tool.
He publicly contradicted himself in his Dec. 23 blog in which he questioned Pacquiao's reluctance to do blood tests.
On Dec. 23, De La Hoya wrote in his blog, "So you have to do the blood work. If Pacquiao doesn't want to do this and risk a possible $40 million payday because he's afraid of needles or believes he'll be weakened by blood tests, then that raises question marks.
"Now I have to wonder about him. I'm saying to myself, 'Wow. Those Mosley punches, those Vargas punches and those Pacquiao punches all felt the same.' I'm not saying yes or no (about whether Pacquiao might be taking performance-enhancing drugs); I'm just saying that now people have to wonder: 'Why doesn’t he want to do this? Why is it such a big deal?' A lot of eyebrows have been raised. This is not good at all."
It would be a good point, if you could believe De La Hoya's basic premise that punches from Mosley, Fernando Vargas and Pacquiao all felt the same. Both Vargas and Mosley are admitted steroids users and naturally bigger men than Pacquiao.
However, De La Hoya's own words contradict him. Days prior to the Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight, De La Hoya did an interview with Yahoo! Sports in which he said Pacquiao's punches were not that hard.
"Pacquiao is good, there's no doubt about it," De La Hoya told Yahoo! Sports in a 1-on-1 interview at the MGM Grand on Sept. 15. "And he's fast. I thought there were 10 of him in there. I'm looking here and he's over there. And I'm reacting to a punch from this way and there's another coming at me from that way.
"Truthfully, he didn't hit hard. He didn't really hurt me. But the punches were so fast and they were coming from everywhere, it felt like there were 10 of him, seriously."
The point here is that nobody in this mess has clean hands. The best thing to do would have been to clearly and succinctly lay out the position of each side and then work quietly toward a solution.
Instead, the endless back-and-forth has given the impression that boxing is a lawless sport run by those looking for what they can take out of it, not how they can build it.
Boxing needs Mayweather-Pacquiao. The attention the fight will generate is enormous and it will serve as an exhibition of the many good things that have been occurring, largely unnoticed, in the sport over the last several years.
Hopefully, those who stand to benefit the most from the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will remember that, before the rest of us shrug our shoulders and move on.
- Manny Pacquiao
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Shane Mosley
- Nevada Athletic Commission