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Articles of 2009

Gulf Coast Up From Standing Eight

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When you stop and think about it, certain geographical regions of this country are a lot like the toughest, most resilient fighters. You can knock them down, beat them silly, and yet they keep coming forward. They are, in a word, indomitable.

In terms of the panoramic picture of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s ongoing recovery from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster ever to hit these United States, Saturday night’s HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast of the defense by WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto (23-0, 19 KOs) against Luis Collazo (29-3, 14 KOs) is no big deal. It’s strictly a made-for-TV production, a single bout to be staged in a side room at the restored (at a cost of $550 million) Beau Rivage Resort Casino in Biloxi.

But the mere fact that a world title fight is coming to an area that has known more than its fair share of death and destruction is a microcosm of what Biloxi, and the other 10 communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, are all about. If you were to compare those gleaming casino resorts that rose from the ashes – or, more accurately, from the receded floodwaters of Katrina — to an actual boxer, the names that might come to mind are never-say-die scrappers Matthew Saad Muhammad and Arturo Gatti.

HBO, which loves to provide its viewers with the perspective of back stories, is almost certain to frame Berto-Collazo within the context of a Biloxi that just 3½ years ago looked like a war zone. Think Berlin, 1945.

You want stories of miraculous recoveries? How about the fact that the opulent Beau Rivage, built on floating barges at the juncture where the Gulf of Mexico meets land, opened exactly one year after Katrina laid waste to it and pretty much the rest of Biloxi’s prime shoreline real-estate. It was almost as if the town’s citizens answered the knockdown blow they had received with a furious assault of their own. Go ahead, Mother Nature. Hit us with your best shot. We can take it, although we’d rather not have to. Haven’t you learned by now? Like that old wristwatch commercial, we can take a licking and keep on ticking.

Lou DiBella, who promotes Berto, recalls coming to the area as a senior vice president of HBO Sports for the April 25, 1998, matchup of Roy Jones Jr. and Virgil Hill at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in nearby Gulfport. Even then, nearly 29 years after a more compact but even more powerful hurricane, Camille, nearly obliterated the region from the face of the earth, there was evidence that not all of the scars upon the land had been fully healed.

Katrina, in effect, was like the delayed payoff of a 1-2 combination from a power puncher, the devastating overhand right that followed Camille’s jolting jab.

“The fact that the Beau Rivage is beautiful and up and renovated and is hosting a title fight on HBO, that’s a very good symbol,” DiBella said. “It shows that life is going on down there post-Katrina.”

Vincent Creel is the public information officer for the City of Biloxi and he said such signs are popping up all over, like daffodils in the spring. He said he isn’t the most astute fight fan, but he does know his history. Don King staged a show at the Beau Rivage on Sept. 13 of last year, in which Timothy Bradley defended his WBC super lightweight title on a rousing unanimous decision over Edner Cherry, and the Gulf Coast’s rich tapestry of boxing dates back to 1881, when John L. Sullivan slugged it out with Paddy Ryan in Mississippi City.

Since casino gaming invigorated the region in 1992, much as it did for Atlantic City beginning in 1978, Biloxi and other Gulf Coast communities are far less likely to be dealt a mortal blow from a soft economy or killer hurricanes.

“What the return of these casino-resorts meant to us was people going back to work,” Creel said. “Prior to Katrina, the casinos employed 15,000 people. These are full-time, salaried employees; the total doesn’t even count the supply houses and the restaurants in the area that benefit from visitors coming in. During the rebuilding, that number shot up to 17,000. It’s down to 12,000 now, in part because of the economy, but it’s rising.

“After a year, all of the casinos were back up and running. The first one opened in December 2005. Two others came on-line by the beginning of 2006. And you know what? We did more gaming revenue in 2007 than we had ever done. Casinos grossed more than $1 billion that year, and that was just in Biloxi.”

In essence, the casinos – some of which have sought to make big-time boxing a staple of the entertainment experience they provide patrons – accomplished more in a relative short period of time than was achieved in the decades that preceded it.

“Some people will tell you – with a degree of accuracy, I might add – that Biloxi and the Gulf Coast did not fully recover from Hurricane Camile in 1969 until casino gaming was legalized in 1992,” Creel said.

No wonder Gulf Coast residents, at least those who don’t equate slot machines and blackjack with the evils posed by demon rum and painted hussies, offer daily thanks for gambling palaces and, one supposes, the fights that were and are subsequently lured to the area.

“Even Nostradamus could not have predicted what the gaming industry has done for us,” Creel said.

Berto, in his own way, is reflective of the power of determination and redemption. He has his own Mississippi story to tell, and his appearance at the Beau Rivage is something of a homecoming.

The son of Haitian-American parents, Berto was born in Miami and he resides in Winter Haven, Fla. He ventured to the casino town of Tunica, Miss., about 30 miles south of Memphis, in 2004 to try to earn a spot on the United States Olympic boxing team that would compete in Athens, Greece, later in the year.

Heavily favored in his weight class, Berto – a two-time National Golden Gloves champion, two-time National Police Athletic League champion and three times a U.S. Amateur championship medalist – was winning his bout with Andre McPherson, at least what little of it that actually transpired, when he threw McPherson to the canvas late in the first round.

Berto was disqualified for having committed the flagrant foul and, just like that, one of America’s best hopes for an Olympic boxing medal saw his dream dashed before it had much of a chance to even take shape.

Fortunately for Berto, his heritage allowed him to make it to Athens on the Haitian team. Because of his pro-influenced style he didn’t medal, but his disappointment proved short-lived.

“Interestingly, I don’t think (not making the U.S. team or getting a medal) cost him very much because he’s got a world title and has been paid better than the gold medalist for the American team, Andre Ward,” DiBella noted. “If you gauged worldwide interest, I think Berto’s recognition is greater than Ward’s.

“And Berto’s style – whether he fought for Haiti, America, Great Britain, Ireland or whomever – is so pro, with an emphasis on hard shots and a lot of body work, is not the style to score a lot of points in international amateur boxing.”

DiBella believes that Berto, just 25, has a chance to evolve into the sort of star attraction to keep interest in boxing alive after the familiar but aging names finally fade from view.

“I think he’s one of them,” DiBella said of Berto’s potential to fill the charismatic void that is sure to come when the old standbys exit. “And by the way, we’d better stop looking to the old guys or we’re going to have no fans left. We are not developing the next generation of boxing fans. This idea that a sport that’s fading domestically should concentrate heavily on foreign fighters and guys that are totally at the tail end of their careers is preposterous.

“It’s one of the reasons I’m not a big proponent of the Paul Williams-Winky Wright fight. You have Paul Williams again extending himself to fight a bigger guy, but an old guy who should frankly be gone and nobody really cares about anyway. And as great as Bernard Hopkins is, he’s 44 bleeping years old. His beating Kelly Pavlik didn’t do anything positive for the sport. What we need to do is build young stars.”

DiBella said HBO, whose stable of fighters is graying like the populace of a Florida retirement community, has the clout to again develop a farm system of up-and-coming attractions.

“Arturo Gatti was never one of the big pound-for-pound guys, but he was tremendously exciting,” DiBella noted. “He was, in essence, a made-for-HBO star. HBO built him. How many `Boxing After Dark’ appearances did Gatti make? Enough so that he broke through to become bigger than he otherwise would have been.

“Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Junior Jones, Naseem Hamed, Kevin Kelly – that whole slew of little fighters got giant paydays, and now Manny Pacquiao has jumped ahead of where any of those guys were. So don’t tell me it can’t be done, and don’t tell me that Berto can’t become one of those have-to-see fighters.”

If there is a difference between Berto and Biloxi, it’s that Berto, disappointed though he might have been by his Tunica misadventure, is undefeated. Biloxi knows defeat, and how. But it also knows about fighting back, about spitting into the eye of adversity.

Camille, the second of three catastrophic Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. in the 20th century, blew into the Gulf Coast near Bay St. Louis, Miss., on Aug. 17, 1969, packing sustained winds of 190 mph and a storm surge of 24 feet. By the time it moved out of the area, it left in its wake 259 dead and $1.42 billion in property damage which, adjusted for inflation, would be $21.2 billion today. It was the second-strongest hurricane in recorded history, behind only the Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane of 1935.

Katrina was less powerful than Camille – it was “just” a Category 3 when it made landfall near Buras, La., on Aug. 29, 2005 – but it was considerably wider, doing damage from Texas to Florida. Most notably, it submerged large tracts of New Orleans as the fragile levee system constructed to protect the below-sea-level city was breached in 53 places.

Most Americans, when they think of Katrina, recall the misery of the people trapped inside the Louisiana Superdome or the Ernest Morial Convention Center. The prevailing images are those of the ruined Lower Ninth Ward, hammered home by a Spike Lee documentary that was televised by HBO.

Only 80 miles to the East, the Mississippi Gulf Coast took a less-obvious and not-quite-direct hit, which is not to say it escaped major destruction.

“A number of people were killed here by Katrina because they refused to believe any hurricane could be as bad as Camille,” Creel said. “That was a fatalistic attitude; 53 died here in Biloxi alone. Had the storm hit during the night, we would have lost 10 times that many, and maybe more.

“We took a backseat to New Orleans because the story in New Orleans had every bell and whistle you could imagine. It was an absolute train wreck. There were so many failures of governmental agencies. Over here, we didn’t have a lot of those issues. We also are not below sea level.”

What Biloxi did have was debris, so much of it that, if placed in an area the width of six football fields, it would have risen the height of a 200-story building.

“And that’s just in the City of Biloxi,” Creel said. “But it’s like our governor (Haley Barbour) likes to say. We got knocked down, got back up, hitched up our britches and went to work rebuilding.”

Again with the boxing references, but they do seem to apply, don’t they?

Perhaps a more fitting quotation to describe the latest rebirth of the Gulf Coast comes from the late Nobel Prize winner for literature, William Faulkner, a Mississippi native who understood the depths to which mankind can sink, and the heights to which it can ascend.

“Man will not only endure, but he will prevail,” Faulkner wrote.

Amen to that.

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

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Former champion Rashad Evans meets Brazil’s venerable Thiago Silva in a non-title belt that can lead to a return match with the current champ, but first things first.

Evans (15-1-1) and Silva (14-1) meet in Ultimate Fighting Championship 108 in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 2, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A win by either fighter could result in a world title bid. The fight card is being shown on pay-per-view television.

Events can change quickly in the Octagon and anybody can beat anybody in the 205-pound weight division. Just ask Silva or Evans.

Silva and Evans are both experienced and can vouch firsthand about the capriciousness of fighting in MMA and especially as a light heavyweight. On one day this man can beat that man and on another day, that man can beat this man. It can make you absolutely daffy.

Evans, 30, is the former UFC light heavyweight world champion who only defended his title on one occasion and lost by vicious knockout to current champion Lyoto Machida of Brazil. It’s the only defeat on his record.

Silva, 27, is a well-rounded MMA fighter from Sao Paolo, Brazil who is versed in jujitsu, Muy Thai and boxing. He can end a fight quickly in a choke hold just as easily as with a kick or a punch. His only loss came to who else: Machida.

Evans and Silva know a win can push open the door to a rematch with current UFC light heavyweight champion Machida.

“A win against Rashad would put me in the track against Lyoto,” said Silva, in a telephone conference call. “That's what – what I want to do.”

When Silva fought Machida the two Brazilians were both undefeated and feared in the MMA world. The fight took place in Las Vegas and with one second remaining in the first round a perfectly timed punch knocked Silva unconscious.

“I was humbled big time, man,” says Silva who fought Machida in January 2009. “I learned a lot from that fight.  I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight, not overlooking anything else right now, but just I want to get the chance to fight him again.”

For Evans it was a different circumstance. The upstate New Yorker held the UFC title and was defending it after stopping then champion Forrest Griffin by knockout. Still, many felt Machida was far too technically versed. Evans was stopped brutally in the second round.

“I've made it a point to not – to not get distracted on what I want to do, because you know Thiago (Silva) is a very hungry fighter,” said Evans who has not fought since losing the title to Machida last May. “My focus is just on Thiago so much.  You know I don't want to overlook him, you know, not even a little bit.”

Dana White, president of UFC, says the winner of this fight could conceivably fight Machida in the near future. Evans and especially Silva are motivated by the open window.

“I learned a lot from that fight. I think I can correct the mistakes from that fight,” says Silva. “Not overlooking anything else right now, but I just want to get the chance to fight him again.”

What a prize. The winner gets to face the man who beat him: Machida.

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Articles of 2009

No One Is Leaving This Stage Of Negotiations Looking GOLDEN

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Early in his political career, the young Lyndon Baines Johnson served as a congressional aide to Rep. Richard Kleberg, the wealthy owner of the King Ranch who was elected to seven consecutive terms in the House of Representatives, at least in part because he often ran unopposed.

One year an upstart rival politician we'll call Joe Bob had the temerity to challenge Kleberg in the Democratic primary, resulting in the convocation of the Texas congressman's staff to plot an election strategy. Several ideas were kicked around before Kleberg himself came up with a brainstorm.

“Why don't we start a rumor that he [copulates with] sheep?” proposed the politician.

This was a bit over the top, even for Lyndon Johnson. The future president leapt to his feet and said, incredulously, “But you know Joe Bob don't [copulate with] sheep!”

“Yeah,” replied the congressman, “but watch what happens when the son of a bitch has to stand up and deny it!”

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Events of the past week or two have seen the Floyd Mayweather camp adopt a similar tactic with regard to Manny Pacquiao.  But if introducing what would appear to be a red-herring issue — the debate over drug-testing procedures — to the negotiating process was intended as a negotiating ploy, it would appear for the moment to have backfired.  The idea might have been to force Pacquiao to go on the defensive, but Pac-Man instead responded with his stock in trade, the counterpunch — in this case the multi-million dollar defamation suit he filed against the Mayweathers, pere et fils,, with the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

In boxing even more than in life, you never say never, but you'd have to say that Pacquiao-Mayweather is a dead issue right now, at least in its March 13 incarnation. Bob Arum says Pacquiao is prepared to move along to another opponent, and Mayweather is supposedly looking at Matthew Hatton in England.

We'll believe that when we see it, for at least three reasons: (1) There would hardly seem to be enough money in that one to make it worth Floyd's time, (2) He's going to have to put so much into preparing a defense to this lawsuit that he mightn't have time to train and (3) He'd get a better workout if he stayed in Vegas and boxed one of Uncle Roger's girl opponents.

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Colleagues on this site have already done a good job of dissecting this process. Ron Borges is absolutely correct in noting that in the midst of all the posturing that's gone on, you'd be a fool to accept at face value anything coming out of any of the parties' mouths. And Frank Lotierzo is spot on in noting that if you had absolutely no desire to actually get in the ring with Manny Pacquiao but were still looking to save face, you'd do pretty much exactly what Mayweather has done. Which is to say, talk tough while you get others to run interference with a series of actions seemingly calculated to ensure that the fight doesn't come off.

But left almost unscathed in all of this heretofore has been the convoluted role played by Golden Boy — by CEO Richard Schaefer, by the company's namesake Oscar the Blogger, GBP's subsidiary enterprise, The Ring, and at least a few of the lap-dogs and lackeys whose favor GPB has cultivated elsewhere in the media.

In late March of 2008, Shane Mosley and Zab Judah appeared at a New York press conference to announce a fight between them in Las Vegas two months later. As it happened, the BALCO trial had gotten underway out in California that week. That day I sat with Judah and his attorney Richard Shinefield as they explained that they intended to ask that both boxers agree to blood testing in the runup to the fight. Citing Mosley's history with BALCO and its products The Cream and The Clear (which Shane claimed Victor Conte had slipped him when he wasn't looking), Shinefield and Zab, noting that Nevada drug tests were limited to urinalysis, proposed that the supplementary tests be administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Want to know what Richard Schaefer's response to that was?

“Whatever tests [the NSAC] wants them to take, we will submit to, but we are not going to do other tests than the Nevada commission requires,” said Schaefer. “The fact is, Shane is not a cheater and he does not need to be treated like one.”

But the fact is that Mosley had a confirmed history as a cheater. Manny Pacquiao does not. Yet in the absence of a scintilla of evidence or probable cause, less than two years later Schaefer was howling that the very integrity of the sport would be at risk unless Pacquiao submitted to precisely the same sort of testing he had rejected for Mosley.

And you thought it was Arum who was famous for saying “Yeah, but yesterday I was lying. Today I'm telling the truth!”

Schaefer, by the way, defended his 180-degree turnabout by saying he is now better educated on the issue. He couldn't resist aiming a harpoon at the media by adding that many sportswriters “don't know the difference between blood and urine testing.”

Don't know how to break this to you, Richard, but sportswriters, who have had to deal with this stuff for the past twenty years, probably know more about drug-testing procedures than any other group you could name.

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Now, the reasonable assumption would be that by assuming the role of the point man in this unseemly mess, Schaefer was insulating his boss (De La Hoya) and his fighter (PBF) by keeping their fingerprints off it while he made a fool of himself publicly conducting this snide little campaign.  

And yes, Money would have stayed out of the line of fire had not a two-month old, expletive-filled rant in which he described the Philippines as the world's foremost producer of performance-enhancing drugs not exploded on the internet at the most inopportune moment. That the lawsuit was filed less than 24 hours after “Floyd Meets the Rugged Man” overtook the Tiger Watch probably wasn't a coincidence.

And we're assuming that this Dan Petrocelli, the lawyer who filed Pacquiao's suit, knows what he's doing, because if there were an even one-zillionth chance that somebody could credibly link Manny to PEDs, then it was a pretty dumb thing to do. You could ask Roger Clemens about that.  Clemens' transformation from Hall of Famer-in-waiting to nationwide laughingstock didn't come from the Mitchell Report. It came from his wrongheaded decision to file a lawsuit against Brian McNamee, which in turn threw everything open to the discovery process.

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De La Hoya, in the meantime, was playing both sides of the fence. He let Schaefer play Bad Cop as he distanced himself from the negotiating process, but simultaneously was sniping away at Pacquiao from his First Amendment-protected perch as a Ring.com blogger.

“If Pacquiao, the toughest guy on the planet, is afraid of needles and having a few tablespoons of blood drawn from his system, then something is wrong…  I'm just saying that now people have to wonder: 'Why doesn't he want to do this?' Why is [blood testing] such a big deal?' wrote Oscar the Blogger. “A lot of eyebrows have been raised. And this is not good.”

Ask yourself this: Exactly what caused those eyebrows to be raised, other than the innuendo coming straight from Oscar's company?

Providing De La Hoya with a forum from which to dispense propaganda  only begins to illustrate the hopelessly compromised position from which The Ring continues to operate. They might as well give Schaefer a column, too, while they're at it.

Nearly seven months have elapsed since we last visited the Ring/Golden Boy relationship, and at the risk of winding Nigel up, it might be useful here to note that in the midst of last June's discourse, The Ring's editor offered a laundry list of the magazine's covers since the De La Hoya takeover as a demonstration of Golden Boy's restraint.

After listing them, Nigel Collins wrote “that's 28 covers over the course of 21 issues, of which Top Rank had 12 fighters, as opposed to eight for Golden Boy and eight for other promotional entities. Obviously, The Ring has shown no bias to Golden Boy when it comes to magazine covers.”

It had never even been suggested that the conflict of interest extended to the magazine playing favorites in choosing its cover subjects, but since Nigel brought it up it is probably worth noting now that of those eight covers given over to “other promotional entities,” two were of David Haye, whose promoter was properly listed as “Hayemaker,” but who had also signed a promotional deal with Golden Boy in May of 2008. (Just last month GBP issued a release in De La Hoya's name in which it described itself as “Golden Boy Promotions, the United States promoter of World Boxing Association Heavyweight World Champion David Haye.”)

And even more to the point, in four other issues Nigel Collins offered in evidence the cover subject was Floyd Mayweather (Independent), although what has transpired with regard to the Pacquiao fight doesn't make Money look very independent at all, does it?

We don't regularly keep track of these things, but in making sure we didn't misquote  Oscar's Blog we also came across a representation of the January 2010 issue on The Ring's website.  The picture on the cover of the Bible of Boxing is of the Golden Boy himself, and the cover story “De La Hoya: The Retirement Interview.”

Wow! Now there's a hot topic for crusading journalists.

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Articles of 2009

Paul Malignaggi Explains Why He Thinks Manny Has Used PEDs

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In theory and in practice I am vehemently opposed to people tossing out unfounded allegations against someone. Supply evidence, then we can talk. But saying someone is using steroids, or EPO, or HGH, based on a theory, or your gut instinct….I have to consider, what if the allegation were thrown at me, and I was 100% innocent. I'd be mightily irked. And so too would you be.

Manny Pacquaio has been hammered from all sides with folks insinuating and coming right out with the contention that they think he's been cheating, that he's been using illegal performance enhancers to give him an edge in competition. Floyd Mayweather Sr, Paulie Malignaggi, Miguel Cotto and Kermit Cintron have either accused Manny, or insinuated that he's been using PEDs. One has to wonder, where's all this smoke coming from? Is it possible that there's fire lurking? That these folks aren't just lobbing unfounded barbs at Manny, that their allegations and hints aren't just sour grapes, or posturing, or a ploy to lure Manny into a fight?

By and large, there hasn't been much in the way of coverage from the standpoint of: what if Manny is using PEDs, or was using PEDs? I think that is rightly so; I'd be more comfortable if none of us trafficked in the innuendo and speculation, and worked within the realm of evidence, and facts. But it's out there, and a topic of conversation and speculation. Perhaps it's a symptom and sign of the times we live in…

TSS reached out to Malignaggi, just off a solid win in his Dec. 12 rematch with Juan Diaz. The Brooklyn-based pugilist has never been shy about speaking his peace (I picture him exiting his mom's womb and barking at the labor and delivery crew to get the room cleaned up, stat!), and he shared with TSS what he bases his allegations, which he's careful to label opinion, upon.

First off, Malignaggi is of the belief that if the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations are at a fatal impasse, Yuri Foreman, and not he, will get the coveted date with Pacquiao. Malignaggi has been mentioned as stand-in for Mayweather.

He started off by insisting that ” I have nothing against Pacquiao” but then went from mellow to madman in a 30 second span.

First off, the boxer wonders why Team Pacquiao isn't going after big-time newspapers, with deep pocketed owners, for libel, for insinuating that Pacquiao is drug cheat.

“If Pacquiao's so sue happy, why not sue the New York Daily News?” he asked. “Maybe they know the steroid allegations are true.”

By and large, Malignaggi thinks it is impossible, utterly impossible, for a boxer to put on 15 or more pounds between March 15, 2008, when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez and weighed 129 pounds at the weigh in, and Nov. 14, 2009 when he fought Miguel Cotto and was 144 pounds at the weigh in, and more on fight night.

“It's not natural looking,” Malignaggi said. But, I countered, what if Manny's supremely blessed, that unlike some other fighters who go up in weight, and look a bit bloated, and lack definition, he's just a special creature?

“He's not supremely blessed,” Maliganngi said. “I know body builders. They can't put on 17 or whatever pounds of muscle in a year. It's not doable, in my opinion. These are my speculations, my opinions based on certain factual evidence. Does his weight gain look normal to you? And his head looks like it has blown up in size, too.”

I offered to Malignaggi that perhaps we should be attacking the system, if we believe it to be lacking, rather than the individual.

“We can blame the system a little bit, but if you were Manny, wouldn't you want to leave no doubt? Or speculation?” said Maliganngi, who believes that by not agreeing to the terms set forth by Team Mayweather, and opposing a blood test within 30 days of the bout, Pacquaio appears guilty.

Pacquiao has agreed to take 3 blood tests: the first during the week of the kickoff news conference in early January, the second random test to be conducted no later than 30 days before the fight, and a final test after the bout. A video making the rounds from the HBO 24/7 series shows Pacquiao submitting to a blood test two or three weeks before he was due to fight Ricky Hatton, and that has cast doubt on Team Pacquiao's stance that Manny is disinclined to get a blood test too close to a bout, for fear he may be weakened. Originally, it was reported in error that that test was taken 14 days before the Hatton bout, but subsequent reports pegged the test as being taken 24 days before the scrap. Malignaggi feels Pacquiao has been caught lying, that the report from Team Pacquiao that he “has difficulty taking blood” is a cover story. “Why is he effing lying?” Malignaggi said, heatedly.

The New Yorker doesn't believe too many fighters in the lighter weight classes are using PEDs, but thinks usage isn't uncommon in the heavyweight division. “That's hard to do and make weight,” he said.

The question is asked of Malignaggi: why does the issue make him so steamed?

“I don't like cheaters,” he said. “This is not baseball. You're not just hitting home runs. You have to worry about peoples' lives. Miguel Cotto in my opinion has been beaten by two cheaters. Manny if he's cheating is taking away from guys who are doing things the right way. His team is reneging on their words.”

And what if you're wrong, Malignaggi? What if Manny is clean, and you are hurting his rep with these allegations?

“I bet everything I own that I'm not,” he said. “But we'll never find out. Hey, I would take the test in a heartbeat. I would want people to know I'm clean. He wants to leave doubts!?? His entire legacy is being questioned, he's willing to hurt his legacy and leave $40 million on the table?”

Maliganngi, after reminding TSS that he was correct in predicting he'd be gamed by judges in the first fight with Diaz, insisted that he isn't singling out Pacquiao for a personal vendetta. “”I've never had anything against him. But that's enough now. I call it like I see it.”

What about those who'd say he's just trying to anger Pacquiao, to lure him into a fight?

“No. I expected he'd take the random tests to get this fight. No way I thought he'd throw away everything. That blew me away. It was cool to have my name mentioned.”

Malignaggi thinks the boxing media has dropped the ball, and not exercised due diligence in examining the possibility that Manny has used PEDs.

“I understand most people like Manny, and not Floyd. Just cause that's the case doesn't mean Manny might not be cheating. It's nothing to do with him personally. But I call a spade a spade. Too many people avoid the possibilities because Manny's a likable person. He's got that front, his country loves him. That front works like crazy. Floyd plays the bad guy, but he's natural. Just don't downplay the fact that Manny might be cheating. You have to open your eyes and at least be willing to look at it. This is bigger than me. The fact that the fight is not being made, you have to question the integrity of Pacquiao.”

Malignaggi then offered an analogy to the Manny-refusing-to-be-subjected-to multiple-random-drug-tests prior-to-a-fight-with-Mayweather deal. “It reminds me of the drunk guy who's pulled over at 3 AM. He has a field sobriety test, the cop knows he's drunk, he looks and acts drunk. But he refuses a breathalyzer test. That don't mean the cop don't haul him to the police station.”

I reiterate…I don't think anyone should be casting aspersions based on circumstantial evidence. But with so many people ganging up on Manny, I think fight fans are owed some details on why people are accusing Pacman of using PEDs.

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