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Articles of 2009

21 Years Ago, The Rise And Eventual Fall Of Mike Tyson Coincided

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The accepted timeline of the Roman Empire stretches from 753 B.C., when the city was founded by Romulus, to 1461, when the Ottomans conquered Trebizond, the last Greek state. That means the Romans were the most formidable force on earth, or very nearly so, for 2,214 years, even longer than a legion’s worth of title reigns by sword-wielding Joe Louises, Bernard Hopkinses and Joe Calzaghes.

At which point during those 23 centuries the glory of Rome began to recede is, of course, speculative, although some historians have attempted to pinpoint it to an exact day: Sept. 4, 476, when Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by Odoacer.

For a time, boxing’s great conqueror of the mid- to late 1980s, Mike Tyson, bestrode his domain as imperiously as Julius Caesar once did his. No man could stand in defiant opposition to the Beast of Brownsville and hope to survive. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he went 100-0,” Tyson’s trainer, Kevin Rooney, said a few days before the nearly 22-year-old wrecking machine was to put his undisputed heavyweight championship on the line against undefeated former champ Michael Spinks.

Chortled promoter Don King, whose hold on the seemingly invincible titlist would extend well beyond the loosened grips of Rooney, manager Bill Cayton and assistant manager Steve Lott: “I’m scared for Spinks. I just hope he don’t get hurt, I hope he don’t get too brutally beaten, have too many ribs smashed.”

But like the mighty Caesar, Tyson should have bewared the Ides of March, or, in his case, the Ides of June. Because even if an empire doesn’t necessarily collapse on a single day, there comes a point when it ceases to rise and has nowhere to go but down.

For Tyson, the peak of his power and the beginning of the end may well have come on the same date: June 27, 1988, the night the most destructive, intimidating force heavyweight boxing had seen blew through Spinks as a Category 5 hurricane might blow away a flimsy shack on an exposed Louisiana shoreline.

On the 21st anniversary of the apex of Tyson’s era of terror, which was culminated by his 91-second annihilation of the unfortunate Spinks, two other undefeated fighters met, also in Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall, in what might be generously termed as a little man’s recreation of that storied event. But the main-event combatants of “Latin Fury 9,” WBO super bantamweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez and challenger Olivier Lontchi, aren’t Tyson, or Spinks for that matter, and the buzz they generated on a pleasant but not particularly historic evening of boxing was more that of an eight-volt battery than the nuclear power plant represented by Tyson-Spinks.

OK, so maybe Tyson-Spinks wasn’t, as then-Atlantic City Mayor James Usry had proclaimed, “the greatest sporting event in the history of the planet.” But it was big enough that it drew an on-site audience of 21,785, some of whom paid scalper’s prices significantly higher than the face value of $1,500 for ringside seats, and so many celebrities that it took ring announcer Michael Buffer 20 minutes to introduce the 92 most notable among them. Donald Trump ponied up a record $11 million site fee to outbid, ironically, Caesars Palace, and the $12.3 million live gate and $67 million gross (mostly from closed-circuit; pay-per-view was still in its infancy then) also set new standards.

No one could have known that the man Rooney had figured to win 100 straight bouts would be so psychologically fragile and physically vulnerable at the end of his career that he was stopped in back-to-back fights by the unimposing likes of Danny Williams and Kevin McBride, and that his vast fortune and not-so-vast emotional well-being would have dripped away as steadily as might an ice sculpture under a hot sun.

Blame for Tyson’s inexorable slide from grace has been attributed to any number of presumed culprits, from King to new co-managers John Horne and Rory Holloway to Desiree Washington, who accused him of raping her during a beauty pageant in Indianapolis, to the prosecutors who got him convicted of that charge, the No. 1 chair being Greg Garrison. Non-apologists weighing in on the debate have suggested that Tyson, as an adult, should be held mostly or entirely responsible for his more self-destructive tendencies. But whether you choose to see him as a victim or a victimizer, the bottom line remains the same: Julius Caesar met a grisly end and so, too, in a metaphorical sense, did Tyson.

Not that many could have foreseen any of this at the postfight press conference after Tyson, still the unquestioned master of all he surveyed, stepped to the podium and explained just how easy it had been for him to jinx Spinks.

“I hurt him with the first punch I threw,” Tyson boasted. “He wobbled a little. But I knew he would try to fight back.

“There were only two things he could do: try to get lucky (with a big punch), or try to run around all night.”

Spinks, who never fought again and shortly thereafter retired with a 31-1 record, conceded that Tyson had “tremendous punching power” and that the second of the two knockdowns he registered, a short right to the temple, “hit me on a spot on top of my head that would have made anybody lightheaded.”

Someone asked Rooney – apparently unaware that he had worked Tyson’s corner for the final time – about undisputed cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield, who on July 16, 1988, was to make his heavyweight debut against James “Quick” Tillis.

“What about Holyfield?” Rooney asked in a dismissive tone. “There’s a hundred of them out there, always a new one. Bring ’em on.”

What soon were brought on for Tyson were a succession of trainers, lawyers, lawsuits, controversies, wives, lovers, sycophants and a public that began to wonder why the reformed street thug had reverted to his sinister roots.

Lott, part of the purge of Tyson’s former handlers that had been set in motion even in advance of the Spinks fight, said the fighter found it increasingly difficult to distinguish right from wrong as he attempted to deal with his wife of 4½ months, television actress Robin Givens, the manipulative King and new “friends” who saw the champion as their own shortcut to easy street.

“When Mike got away from us, all of a sudden he was acting wild,” Lott said earlier this week as he recalled the dizzying lead up to and the slow but steady descent from the Spinks fight.  “You have to give it to King. He used the same skill and precision to restore all the negative layers of Mike’s Brooklyn past that Cus (D’Amato) and Jim (Jacobs) had peeled away, the layers of hate, racism, disrespect, contempt and surliness. Don put those back on because he knew that was the way for him to gain control.

“The advantage Don had was that Mike remembered  how to be a punk, a scumbag. Don helped Mike gravitate back to being that.”

Lott’s take on what had happened might be a bit self-serving. But Tyson made it easier for that version of his personal and boxing history to be accepted as at least somewhat factually correct.

In a Sports Illustrated  article published just prior to his showdown with Spinks, Tyson took the reporter on a tour of the blighted Brooklyn neighborhood that had spawned him and which he still considered to be the source of his insatiable need to rule through fear and intimidation.

“I was happier then,” Tyson said of his days as a street predator. “Every day I was living on the edge. I was wild and free. I love coming back. Do you understand? When I’m here, I feel like a warrior.”

A warrior, it seems, forever on the prowl for easy marks.

“I robbed people,” Tyson conceded. “Who? Anybody who was a victim. We’d rub drunks’ fingers in the snow so we could pull off their rings. We’d wait outside the grocery store and offer to help women carry their bags to their car, then when we were handing them their bags, we’d reach into their pocketbooks and steal their wallets.”

By any reckoning Tyson was an incorrigible youth, a member of a street gang known as the Jolly Stompers. He was stashed away for society’s benefit in the Tryon School for juvenile delinquents when a counselor, an ex-boxer named Bobby Stewart, recognized his potential greatness in the ring and brought him to the attention of D’Amato, a crusty septuagenarian who had overseen the careers of world champions Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres. The 13-year-old with the troubled past and devastating punch became the ward of D’Amato and his sister, Camille Ewald, who made it their mission to recast him not only as a future champion, but as socially acceptable as might be accomplished in the more tranquil environs of Catskill, N.Y.

When the kid with iron in his fists began his professional career with a string of savage knockouts, everyone dared to imagine that the next great heavyweight had indeed arrived.

“Mike got into a couple of scuffles, like that parking-lot thing in Los Angeles (he groped a female attendant), but nothing really major,” Lott said. “He was around nice people, so he was learning to be nice. He did commercials for Pepsi-Cola, for Nintendo. He did a public-service commercial for – don’t laugh – the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency to keep kids off drugs. He was selected by the New York Police Department for a billboard campaign all over the city that had a big picture of Mike and the words, `It takes a bigger man than me to be a New York City cop.’”

But how are you gonna keep ’em on the farm once they’ve seen the big city? Especially when they’re from  the big city?

D’Amato was 77 when he died in 1985 and Jacobs was 58 when he died on March 23, 1988, following a lengthy bout with leukemia that Tyson later was to say he had no knowledge of.

Tyson had signed a four-year extension of his contract with Jacobs and Cayton on Feb. 12, 1988, but Jacobs’ death shook him hard; he loved and respected Jacobs, but wasn’t particularly close to Cayton, whose demeanor toward the wild-child was gruffer and less conciliatory.

The marriage to Givens, whom some have depicted as more of a gold-digger than the miners who flocked to Sutter’s Mill in northern California after rich veins of the precious metal were found there in 1849, had already begun to change Tyson. So, too, did the expanding influence of  King, who sought to wrest as much control from Cayton, Lott and Rooney as he could so that he could become the most influential voice in the direction of Tyson’s career.

Shortly before Tyson entered the ring to lay waste to Spinks that warm June night in 1988, he had Cayton served with legal papers revealing his intention to terminate his managerial contract, which was to pay Cayton and Jim Jacobs’ widow, Lorraine, a combined 33 1/3 of Tyson’s purses through Feb. 11, 1992. A compromise eventually was reached whereby Cayton would not retain the duties of a manager and he and Lorraine Jacobs would receive 20 percent of Tyson’s purses until the expiration of the contract.

Only two days after Spinks had been disposed of in typically brutal fashion, Tyson announced that he was “burned out” on boxing and wanted to spend more snuggly time with Givens at their $4.5 million Bernardsville, N.J., estate, where the neighbors included Jackie Onassis, Malcom Forbes, Meryl Streep and Whitney Houston.

The “retirement” never took root, of course. Tyson was too much of a cash cow to walk away then, still too talented to lose even if his heart and mind were beginning to wander. The knockout victories continued, for a while. But Buster Douglas showed in Tokyo that a disinterested, underprepared Tyson could be taken down, and the rest of heavyweight boxing began to become emboldened, especially after Iron Mike came back rusty after three-plus years in stirs following his rape conviction.

Maybe it all did begin to slip away, at first imperceptively, with that thrashing of Spinks. Lott thinks so, saying, “June 27, 1988, was when Mike’s emotional strength started to wane and probably his physical ability, too.”

Oh, but what a night that was! It was the summit of the highest mountain, with a panoramic view no heavyweight since has had the privilege of glimpsing. Holyfield never was as absolutely dominant as the 1988 vintage Tyson, nor was Riddick Bowe or Lennox Lewis. Who could have known that Tyson, who wouldn’t even turn 22 until four days after his 91-second rout of Spinks, was ready to begin a slow descent to a very different night, when he would quit on his stool after six rounds against McBride on June 11, 2005?

“I can’t really say there was another night like it,” Lott said of a moment in time when the world was transfixed by Mike Tyson’s impending throwdown with the highly regarded Spinks. “Mike knew the whole town would be a zoo, which it was. He knew the hotels and the casinos would be packed, which they were. He knew 22,000 people would be in Boardwalk Hall, which they were.

“He also knew he would give those people a spectacular performance, which he did.”

Like the late Michael Jackson, another supernova who blazed across the sky for a giddy period until he flamed out and became an object of peculiar fascination, Tyson might have had it all too soon, before he knew the full ramifications of wealth and fame, and how to deal with those alluring potential pitfalls.

Et tu,  Mike. Jacko and Julius await on the other side, and no doubt the three of you will have much to talk about when and if you ever discuss the complexities of empire-maintenance as opposed to empire-building.

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!”

******

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.

*****

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.

*****

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.

*****

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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