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Articles of 2009

THE KIMBALL CHRONICLES: The Prisoner Of Hell's Kitchen

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If I’ve done enough wrong in this life that I’m brought back as a boxing promoter in the next one, first thing I do is abolish press conferences — press conferences announcing fights, post-fight press conferences, photo ops at the Statue of Liberty, the lot of them.

From the standpoint of the working press, they’re all but useless, and from the promoter’s they represent an unnecessary expense producing little of value in return. For a fraction of what they’d save, promoters could spend their money on something truly useful, like health insurance for their boxers.

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There’s a wonderful scene in Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.” Mel (Jack Lemmon), afflicted with big-city malaise, has already endured a rough patch in his life that makes the Trials of Job seem trifling by comparison. When a scruffy-looking kid bumps into him on the street, he reaches for his wallet, realizes it is missing, and takes off in pursuit of a mugger half his age.

After a mad dash across Central Park, a panting Mel runs his quarry down and pounces on him. Cocking his fist, he demands his wallet  “or I’ll beat your head in.” The terrified mugger complies. Mel, his sagging spirits lifted by having finally fought back, returns home to report the adventure to his wife Edna (Anne Bancroft), who seems unimpressed. 

“But I got my wallet back!” he says.

“Your wallet’s brown. This one’s black,” she sighs. “You left yours on the dresser this morning. This isn’t your wallet, Mel.”

The excitement drains from Mel’s face.

“My God,” he says. “I mugged a kid.”

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In bygone times press conferences were absolutely essential to putting on a fight show. You hired a restaurant, picked up the tab for lunch, poured a bunch of booze down the throats of the assembled newsmen, and they’d return to their offices and dutifully file glowing stories about that week’s Fight of the Century.  At a time when there were a dozen daily papers in New York and five or six in Boston this made a lot of sense. It eventually got to the point that promoters were so reliant on the practice that they tried to outdo each other. If one of Dan Parker’s colleagues thought the other guy’s lunch was better, he might write about his fight and forget yours altogether. Promoters learned that this could usually be addressed by slipping favored scribes a cash-stuffed envelope on the way out the door.

By the late 1970s Don King had taken this practice to a whole new level, and when word got out in connection with the investigation of the ABC/Ring ‘US Boxing Championships’ it cost some pretty good writers their jobs. Since newspapers today are more ethically circumspect, overt bribery is discouraged, but that doesn’t mean it has disappeared altogether. Nowadays, if the guy owns his own website, the promoter can just write him a check and call it an “ad.”

Back in those days, of course, the post-fight press conference did not exist. Even after the biggest of fights, reporters routinely interviewed both winner and loser in their respective dressing rooms. There was plenty of room to handle the working press, and everybody knew who they were.

I’m not sure when the post-fight press conference started, or why, but I can promise you one thing: they’re not for the press. If you’re writing on deadline you want to get a quote or two to set the mood (and prove to the boss and your readers that you were there) and get your story written and filed as quickly as possible, not sit around waiting an hour or more for the last undercard fighter’s manager to be seated at the dais so a press conference can get started. 

The result is that post-fight press conferences are mainly attended by posses, entourages, relatives, and hangers-on. They’re all but useless for anyone actually covering the event, and if you see a newspaperman or even a legitimate internet reporter at a post-fight press conference, you can pretty much take it for granted that he’s already filed his story. Ninety per cent of the people in attendance have no function and no reason to be there anyway, and the bigger the event, the more true that is.

The same is true for press luncheons and their even more ghastly modern-day counterpart, the Golden Boy Media Event masquerading as a press conference. The latter is as a rule open to the public and overrun with shrieking fans; a reporter who actually tries to interview a fighter at one of them might be shot on sight. 

At any of the aforementioned, there is a pretty reliable way to determine how many frauds are in attendance: the applause meter.

Reporters don’t cheer for fighters or trainers or promoters or television executives, so the more people who break into applause when one of these is introduced, the more interlopers you know are in the room.  You don’t ever hear members of the working press applauding the police commissioner at his press conferences, do you?

Imagine the reaction if a member of the White House press corps showed up at a presidential press briefing and asked Barack Obama for an autograph. Yet there are people who regularly show up at fight press conferences with boxing gloves, posters, and magazine covers they expect the fighters to sign. These people aren’t writers — and if they are they should be drummed out of the profession.

Today’s boxing writers don’t care about a free lunch. They’re there to do a job, but these things have become so glutted with hangers-on that newspapers often tell their reporters to skip them altogether. It’s the very rare New York press conference today when the Times, Post, News, and Newsday all have a representative there, but the promoter winds up picking up the tab for lunch for sixty, eighty, a hundred people anyway. A promoter could get a lot more mileage out of promising each newspaper, and the four or five internet sites people actually read, ten minutes each alone with each fighter. They’d get more and better coverage out of it, and it sure would be a lot cheaper.

And the really perfectly ridiculous part of this is that the promoters know it, too. Just a couple of weeks ago I drove back from Yankee Stadium with Lou DiBella and listened to him moan the whole way about all the lunches he’d bought for people who as far as he could tell had never written a word about one of his fights. Exactly a week later, Lou was buying lunch for ninety at Gallagher’s. There might have been two newspapermen in the whole bunch. The applause meter almost went off the charts that day.

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If you’ve spent much time around the fight game at all the chances are you know Teddy Blackburn, and even if you’re a casual fan you’ve probably seen his work, which graces the pages, and sometimes the cover, of almost any boxing publication you could name. 

He grew up in Ann Arbor, where his father was a professor at the University of Michigan, but Teddy’s interests veered away from academia when he started to hang around a growing enterprise called the Kronk Gym.  He hung around there with the young Thomas Hearns, and boxed a bit himself, but if getting knocked out by Booker T. Word in the Detroit Gloves wasn’t enough to convince him that his vocation lay elsewhere, a sparring session with the late Mickey Goodwin did. Mickey was trying to take it easy on him but he still broke Teddy’s nose, and when they towelled Teddy off Mick told him he really ought to stick to taking pictures.

Beyond his professional credentials, Teddy enjoys a reputation as one of boxing’s truly good guys. This status was officially recognized in 2001, when the Boxing Writers Association of America presented him with the Marvin Kohn Good Guy Award in recognition of what was essentially a one-man campaign to raise funds and build a support system for Gerald McClellan, the former middleweight champion who has been blinded and brain-damaged in a 1995 fight against Nigel Benn. It was one of those boxing tragedies everybody remembers, but boxing people don’t like to be reminded that things like this can happen, so apart from Teddy and a few guys like Roy Jones, Gerald doesn’t get many visitors.

Over the years Teddy and I have shared rides to fights, bunked together at casino hotels and out of the way flophouses in club-fight towns, and before I went on the disabled list we used to get up two or three mornings a week for a 6 am round of golf at one of the city courses. 

Teddy is one of those friends who’s always eager to help and never ask anything in return. So a few weeks ago, as the aforementioned press conference at Gallagher’s was breaking up, I saw the baleful look on his face and asked him what the matter was and he said “Somebody stole my camera bag,” I knew it was a longshot, but I was determined to help if I could.

He quickly described the bag, one I knew well because he’s had it for years – a black North Face backpack, the principal contents of which on this day consisted of two Nikon cameras and the results of a day’s work, stuff he was supposed to get down to the Reuters office so they could move the photographs of Carl Froch and Jermain Taylor on wire for the papers back in England.  

Since the room was still half full, there seemed at least a chance that the culprit hadn’t yet made good his escape. Our quickly formulated plan called for me to station myself on the sidewalk outside, where anyone exiting the press conference would have to leave from one of two doors, while Teddy circulated among the crowd, hoping to spot somebody who looked as if he’d recently acquired something he hadn’t come in with.

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Security at boxing events, and at boxing press conferences, can be pretty lax, but theft is surprisingly rare.  This has less to do with the integrity of the guests than the fact that even the posse thugs realize that if anything depreciates faster in value than last week’s cell phone, it’s last month’s laptop or last year’s pre-owned camera.  Some of these people wouldn’t think twice about swiping, say, a press kit right off your seat if you turned away for a moment, but the two cameras in Teddy’s bag had set him back $5,000, and a thief would be lucky to get $200 for the pair of them on the street.  It would be a lot less trouble to just sneak out the door with somebody else’s signed boxing gloves.

I’d been out on the sidewalk for about five minutes, swiveling my head from one door to the next as I clocked the clientele exiting the restaurant. Then, in mid-swivel, I found myself staring at Teddy’s backpack.

I hadn’t actually seen the kid come out the door, but he was standing right in front of Gallagher’s. His face was shrouded by a hoodie, and he seemed to sense me staring at him, because he looked around nervously and quickly crossed the street, where he was joined by an accomplice. The crooks headed west on 52nd Street. I spotted them half a block, and, keeping them in sight, followed at what I hoped was a discreet distance while I simultaneously tried to phone for backup.

To my chagrin I discovered that Teddy’s number had vanished from my latest phone. It presumably didn’t survive the data transfer after I dropped its predecessor into a fountain at Caesars Atlantic City. DiBella’s was switched off. I eventually managed to reach Boxing Digest editor Sean Sullivan, who was still at Gallagher’s, and told him I had the perps in sight, but by then I was a few blocks away. Sean couldn’t find Teddy, but said he’d go look for him. Over and out.

I’m not sure when the perps realized they had a tail, or even if they did at all, but they seemed to cast increasingly furtive looks back over their shoulders as they continued in the direction of the river.  By now Times Square was well behind us, and we were in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, between 10th and 11th Avenues, when they made the drop.

The two perps were joined on the sidewalk by the rest of their posse, so now there were at least half a dozen of them. I ducked behind a delivery truck and watched the one with Teddy’s backpack enter a building while the other gang members stood sentinel outside.

When he emerged a few minutes later he no longer had the backpack. Now I was in a real quandary. There couldn’t have been more than five or six apartments in the building, and the cameras were in one of them. Should I keep the drop under surveillance, or follow the perps?

As I was trying to calculate Popeye Doyle’s advice when Frog One and Frog Two split up and went in opposite directions, the delivery truck abruptly pulled away and left me standing there exposed. Across the street, the kids seemed to think this was pretty funny.

I rang Sean’s phone again.

“Oh,” he said. “Teddy was just looking for you. He said to tell you he found his camera bag under a table at Gallagher’s.”

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I couldn’t tell you how many black North Face backpacks I saw on the long walk back to Broadway, but there were a lot of them. For all I know I had just followed some Stuyvesant honor student on his way home to drop off his school books.

“But he had a backpack that looked just like Teddy’s,” I tried to tell my wife later.

“I don’t care,” she said, unmoved. “You were profiling.”

I was about to offer in my own defense the fact that they had behaved so suspiciously while they were leading me on this wild goose chase when I remembered another pearl of Neil Simon wisdom. 

In “The Prisoner of Second Avenue,” as he rationalizes his mistake, Mel recalls that he was certain he’d nailed his mugger when the guy abruptly took flight.

“Why did he run?” wonders Mel.

“You chased him, didn’t you?” says his wife. “You get chased, you run.”

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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