WBC president Jose Sulaiman pleads for leniency for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

Former world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. doesn't deserve to get locked up after having gotten caught smoking a joint prior to his Sept. 15 middleweight title fight with Sergio Martinez in Las Vegas. Chavez tested positive for marijuana after the fight and faces a Thursday disciplinary hearing in front of the Nevada Athletic Commission.

In the grand scheme of things, smoking marijuana doesn't equate with rape, murder and armed robbery and Chavez shouldn't be treated that way.

Still, it's against Nevada's rules and Chavez knew it was against Nevada's rules. Given that, and given that in 2009 Chavez tested positive in Nevada for Furosemide, a diuretic that is often used to mask steroid use, he can't be allowed to walk away from it as if nothing happened. He was suspended for seven months and fined $10,000 by the Nevada commission for testing positive for Furosemide after a bout with Troy Rowlands.

In addition, this is a guy who in January was caught driving while intoxicated. He clearly has some issues.

That said, his godfather, Jose Sulaiman, is pleading for leniency. That would be an OK thing for most godfathers to do on behalf of their loved ones, but Sulaiman's position in boxing makes his statements decidedly not OK. Sulaiman is the president of the WBC, one of the four major (at least in terms of recognition, though hardly in terms of respect) sanctioning bodies.

The WBC has blatantly ignored and manipulated its own rules for years, so nothing Sulaiman might do should come as much of a surprise.

But in an interview with BoxingScene, Sulaiman was, in essence, attempting to do a little jury tampering prior to Chavez's hearing Thursday. Incredibly, he said that if a legitimate sanctioning body were to issue a punishment he deemed too severe, he would help Chavez find ways to skirt it.

Sulaiman has no business getting involved in a legitimate regulatory agency's disciplinary proceedings. But he suggested Chavez be suspended for no more than six months, though the $100,000 maximum fine he proposed was a bit over the top. If Chavez is fined $100,000 for smoking a joint, there are going to be some rich people in Colorado and Washington, where voters recently legalized recreational marijuana usage.

It's Sulaiman's stance, though, that is out of whack. It's beyond irresponsible to suggest he'll help Chavez find ways to get around the punishment. If a boxer is suspended in one state in the U.S., all other state commissions recognize it. But whether other countries honor U.S. suspensions is up to them, and Mexico, where Chavez and Sulaiman are from and the WBC is based, normally doesn't recognize U.S. suspensions. That is especially true if a Mexican fighter has been penalized.

But Sulaiman, who wields enormous power in Mexico, decided to run interference for Chavez. He went to the media to let Chavez knows that if he needs help, the WBC will be there for him.

If it's a fair and just decision, we will respect it. But if they institute an unacceptable punishment, the WBC will provide the [the rest of the] world for Chavez to perform.

The WBC has made so many unfair and unjust decisions over the years, it would take months to recite them all publicly.

If Sulaiman helps Chavez Jr. skirt Nevada's rules, all members of the Association of Boxing Commissions should agree not to allow the WBC to sanction fights in the U.S. until Chavez serves the entire Nevada suspension (if he is given one). The state commissions give the sanctioning bodies seats at ringside and allow them to make significant amounts of money by collecting sanctioning fees from fighters who compete for their titles.

If Nevada, for instance, refused to allow the WBC to sanction fights in the state, have no doubt that Sulaiman would quickly reverse course and call for Chavez to do hard time in order to teach him a lesson.

There are plenty of bigger problems in boxing than Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s marijuana usage. But it's the president of the WBC's threat to skirt the rules that is a major issue here. That can not be tolerated. This being boxing, sadly, it probably will be.

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