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Articles of 2009

THE KIMBALL CHRONICLES: WHAT'S UP WITH THIS DOC? Ali-Holmes

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Earlier this year, ESPN revealed plans to simultaneously celebrate its 30th anniversary and expand its cultural horizons with a season-long film festival that would showcase the work of some of the more acclaimed filmmakers of our time — including but not limited to the likes of Barry Levinson, Ron Shelton, Barbara Koppel, and Albert Maysles.

The “30 on 30” series opened earlier this month with Peter Berg's “King's Ransom,” an examination of the ripple effect throughout the National Hockey League of the 1988 trade that brought Wayne Gretzky, the best player of his era, from Winnipeg to Hollywood.  Last week the network premiered its second installment, Levinson's “The Band that Wouldn't Die,” in which the man who made “Diner” looks back at the Colts' 1984 abandonment of Baltimore, a bittersweet paean which affords Levinson one more opportunity to kick Robert Irsay up and down The Block.

The initial airing of the third film, “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?”, was scheduled for Oct. 20. The work of Mike (“The Bronx is Burning”) Tollin, “Small Potatoes” has already stirred up its share of controversy, thanks to Donald Trump, whose name is the answer to the question asked in the subtitle.

The network which built its early success on live boxing turns its attention to the Sweet Science next week, with the debut of  Maysles' “Muhammad and Larry,” a quasi-documentary centered around Muhammad Ali's doomed attempt to regain the heavyweight title in what proved to be the penultimate fight of his 61-bout career.

The Maysles Brothers had been granted virtually unlimited access to the camps of both champion and challenger in the weeks and months preceding the fight at Caesars Palace, but for various reasons (chiefly rights issues concerning the actual fight footage) the footage had remained dormant for the better part of the past three decades. Kick-started by the ESPN agreement, Maysles and his new filmmaking partner Brad Kaplan (David Maysles died in 1987) re-interviewed many of the surviving cast of characters — Holmes, along with Angelo Dundee, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Gene Kilroy, and Wali Muhammad from the opposing camp, but not, conspicuously, Ali himself — and augmented their recollections with those of a number of boxing writers in revisiting what had by almost any standard been an incredibly depressing experience for everyone concerned. Including the guy who won the fight.
*   *   *
I was in London for the Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Alan Minter fight the previous weekend, and was consequently one of the few boxing writers in America who wasn't at Caesars Palace on the night of Oct. 2, 1980.  

When we'd talked about it over breakfast a few days before Hagler's fight, Goody Petronelli seemed to think Holmes-Ali was such a foregone conclusion that he wondered why they were fighting at all.

“If everything's right,” he said, “I don't see how Ali can win.”

Even though it loomed a colossal mismatch going in, I was curious enough about seeing it that I'd made sure I'd get home in plenty of time to watch the closed-circuit telecast. Rip Valenti was running a live card at the old Boston Garden that night, followed by the telecast of the fight from Vegas, and my flight to Boston would get me back in plenty of time for both.

Of course, those things don't always work out as planned. Europe had been particularly affected by the worldwide fuel shortage, so the Aer Lingus plane that took off from Dublin first backtracked to Scotland, and re-fueled at Prestwick. From there came the obligatory stopover at Shannon, where the plane was emptied so the passengers would shop. By the time I actually landed, it was already dark. A cousin then working at Logan airport had made arrangements to whisk me through customs and I jumped in a taxi for the Garden, arriving with only minutes to spare before Ali's fight.

We watched from the press room, where they'd set up a few folding chairs. I was joined by the venerable New York Times columnist Red Smith, who'd come up from his summer home on Martha's Vineyard with his friend Eliot Norton, the drama critic at my newspaper, the Boston Herald.  At the time of the Holmes-Ali fight, Red had a bit over a year to live, and at 77, Eliot was two years older than Red was.

Smith had never been what you'd call a huge Ali fan, and in a column a few days earlier he'd expressed reservations similar to Goody's, all of which were borne out that evening. Ali started with nothing and had less as each round passed. Eliot must have felt as if he were covering some sort of Shakespearean tragedy; it was that sad and pitiful. None of us could understand why Richard Greene was allowing it to go on, and why in the absence of any intervention from the referee, Angelo Dundee didn't stop it himself.  
Finally, at the end of ten, Dundee called Greene over to the corner and asked him to stop it. This in turn produced a beef with Bundini Brown, who tried to overrule Angelo, but Dundee reminded the referee that he was the chief second, and he won that argument.  Bundini almost immediately burst into tears, and by the time they got him on camera, Larry Holmes was crying, too.
It was a story we all knew we'd have to write one day, but I was pretty glad I hadn't been there that night. As it turned out, it was a temporary reprieve. I was there the next year when Ali fought Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas, so 14 months later I had to write it anyway.
*  *   *
Albert and David Maysles had pioneered the documentary-as-art-form, going back to the days of “Primary” (1960) and their 1975 classic “Grey Gardens.” In 1970 they had set out to make the first great rock-n-roll epic in “Gimme Shelter,” and wound up producing the first commercially viable snuff film when they included footage of the Hell's Angels killing a spectator at the Altamont Festival.
In addition to the aforementioned rights difficulties, the Maysles had another problem with “Muhammad and Larry” 30 years ago, which is that the wrong guy won. Whether they actually believed Ali had a chance, or whether they thought that Holmes would emerge from that fight with an enhanced image isn't clear, but the fact is that what happened that night in Vegas seemed so obscene that distributors were convinced, probably correctly, that nobody wanted to look at it again.

Barely half of the hour-long ESPN version is from the original footage, and some of the latter-day observations seem frankly self-serving.  The guy who comes off best, ironically, is Pacheco, who had walked away from Ali's corner in 1977 when his retirement advice went unheeded.

Ali had lost and then regained the title for the third time by outpointing Leon Spinks, and then announced his retirement following his final win. The heavyweight title had been divided, with John Tate and then Mike Weaver holding the WBA version. Holmes, who as a nascent pro had been one of Ali's regular sparring partners, had won the WBC version by beating Ken Norton. (The latter remains the only heavyweight “champion” in history who lost the only three title bouts in which he participated.)

The film contrasts Holmes' storefront training camp in Easton with what looks like a 24/7 zoo in Deer Lake, where Ali seems to be more interested in catering to the tourists than in actual training.  (A very young Tim Witherspoon, who sparred with Ali for Holmes, offers some interesting observations about his mentor's regimen, or lack of one.)

In the run-up to the Holmes fight, Ali had grown a mustache (he did shave it off when he got to Vegas), and referred to himself as “Dark Gable.” Since this was pretty much the only time he sported facial hair, it's almost like watching a stranger who vaguely resembles Ali speak his lines.

And while the physical problems that would overtake him a few years later hadn't fully manifested themselves, his speech in 1979 was markedly different from what it had been a decade earlier that one can only wonder why no one save Pacheco seems to have noticed.

Early in the film Holmes recalls being approached by a woman — a total stranger — whose first words were “I hate you!”  His crime, of course, had been beating Ali. At that point he began to realize that just as his image had suffered because he was considered an unworthy successor, he would henceforth be blamed in some quarters for his part in turning Ali into what he has become today.
Some would argue that this course had already been set. Pacheco, who describes the Holmes fight as “an abomination,” may have gotten carried away with himself when he says that everyone connected with it should have been put in jail, but he, and others, argue persuasively that it probably shouldn't have happened.

With rumors, some of them no doubt emanating from Pacheco, that Ali was evincing symptoms of mental and physical deterioration, the Nevada State Athletic Commission ordered a battery of tests performed by the Mayo Clinic before they would reissue his license. Ali's biographer Thomas Hauser points out that the Mayo tests revealed that Ali had experienced difficulty in performing normally rudimentary functions like touching the tip of his nose, and hopping on cue. These might have been considered clear warning signs, but Nevada issued the license anyway, and for reasons best known to itself, the commission declined to make the Mayo test results public.

In footage from a round-table discussion conducted at the Versailles restaurant in Las Vegas last March for the Maysles film, John Schulian — my Library of America anthology co-editor who had covered Holmes-Ali as a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times — notes that the Mayo Clinic tests had showed evidence of irregularity in Ali's brain function.

“They did not!” former Ali aide Gene Kilroy nearly leaps across the table as he explodes. “All it showed was that he had some problems with short-term memory loss.”

Since the film lets that pass without comment, it is left to us to break the news to Kilroy: Short term memory loss is usually an early indicator of frontal-lobe brain damage.

In training, Ali probably compounded the problem when he let his sparring partners hammer away at him in the belief that it would toughen him up for the ordeal he expected, but as Pacheco points out, one's kidneys do not bounce back from such trauma. Then, in the weeks before the fight, on the advice of some crackpot doctor and with no apparent medical foundation, Ali received a prescription for thyroid supplements and began using the medicine like so much candy.

Holmes was going to win this fight anyway, but the film effectively makes the point that Ali's chances decreased at almost every turn.  Participating in a panel discussion (along with Maysles, Kaplan, Pete Hamill, and ESPN's Jeremy Schaap) after Monday night's New York screening, Holmes complained that by pointing all these things out, the film tended to cheapen his victory by making it appear that Ali had beaten himself.

Even during his long and estimable reign as champion Holmes was always touchy about living in Ali's shadow, and that has apparently not abated with time. While he didn't specifically complain that the film's title has the winner's and loser's names in reverse order, he might have. And, interviewed in Easton this year, Larry's long-suffering better half, wife Diane, takes it upon herself to complain that her husband never got his just do.

“It's like he fell of the face of the earth,” she tells the unseen interviewer. “Look how long it took you to get here!”

As what had become a ritual beating that night wore on, Holmes on several occasions seemed to be imploring Greene to stop it. Jake Holmes, who was in his brother's  corner, says that much of the damage inflicted that night came because Holmes, realizing that the referee would be no help, was trying to knock Ali out in sort of a humane gesture that somehow seemed preferable to 15 rounds of protracted torture.

Pacheco says that when he asked Dundee to join his exodus two years earlier, the trainer replied that one good reason for staying on was that he would be a position to rescue Ali should a fight need to be stopped.

“No, you won't,” Pacheco told him — and it turns out he may have been right. In the Maysles film, both retired Newark scribe Jerry Izenberg and Kilroy confirm that Dundee's intervention came only after Herbert Muhammad had issued the order from his ringside seat.

*  *  *
There may be yet one more reason it took “Muhammad and Larry” thirty years to find an audience.  Making a film about a fight billed as “The Last Hurrah” probably sounded like a better idea when it actually looked as if it would be, but once the Holmes fight was no longer Ali's last it may have lost some of its shine as an historical marker.

It wasn't in the rough cut distributed to the media beforehand, but in the final version screened at the Chelsea Theatre Monday, a postscript on the screen notes that in December of 1981 Ali fought for the last time in what the film gratuitously — and inaccurately — describes as an “unsanctioned” fight.

It seemed a curious, albeit deliberate, choice of words, designed to conjure up the image of some backwater bare-knuckle bout, or perhaps a winner-take-all fight to the finish in the basement of a mafia social club.  It struck me that the label was tacked on to foster the impression that the Holmes fight was Ali's last “real” one, and that ten rounds against Trevor Berbick shouldn't even count.

Now, there's no question that a lot of silly, undignified things happened on the card billed as “The Drama in Bahama,” ranging from the absence of an actual ring bell (a Bahamian cowbell assumed that role) to the failure of the organizers to provide enough gloves for the undercard participants, but almost without exception those were the responsibility of promoter James Cornelius — a rank amateur — and not of the Bahamian Commission which sanctioned the card.

And make no mistake about it, Berbick-Ali took place in the Bahamas specifically because it was sanctioned there. If it hadn't been, Cornelius would have no doubt another jurisdiction that would sanction it.

Since Brad Kaplan seemed to have done most of the hands-on work with the ESPN version, I asked him about it after the screening.  He initially tried to claim the fight hadn't been sanctioned at all, then that what he really meant was that “It wasn't sanctioned by a US commission.”

I asked him if he would have described it as “unsanctioned” had it taken place in Germany. At that point Maysles' partner began to yammer about the absence of recognized officials in the Bahamas. “The referee… and the judges…”

Actually, I told him, I believed that the referee that night was an American, Zach Clayton. (I double-checked when I got home. The same Zach Clayton who had refereed the “Rumble in the Jungle” seven years earlier was indeed the referee for Ali's swan song.)
Two of the judges, Alonzo Butler and Clyde Gray, were Bahamian appointees. The third, Jay Edson of Florida, was an official of more than thirty years' experience in world title fights. (Gray returned precisely the same score — 99-94 — Edson did that night, and Butler may have done a better job than either of them, since his 97-94 scorecard included just one even round, while Edson and Gray were indecisive enough to score three rounds level.)

It will be interesting to see whether the Berbick fight is still described as “unsanctioned” when “Muhammad and Larry” opens for business next Tuesday night.

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.

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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.

*****

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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