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Articles of 2009

Oliver McCall Tells It Like He Thinks It Was

Bernard Fernandez

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Jockey Calvin Borel, who jumped off his Kentucky Derby-winning horse, Mine That Bird, for the mount on Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, isn’t the only sports figure to quit a champion in mid-stream, or mid-track as it were. That switch had already been made in 1994, when trainer Emanuel Steward left Oliver McCall, whom he had just helped to win the WBC heavyweight championship on a second-round stoppage of Lennox Lewis, for Lewis.

No one can say for sure if Mine That Bird understood the ramifications of suddenly having a different rider, or if the colt cared one way or the other, but it would seem that McCall might be just a tad bitter about being suddenly abandoned by the man who had helped prepare him for the greatest success of his 24-year professional boxing career.

But McCall, now 44 and still fighting despite having been written off more times than a stack of bad debts, isn’t angry about Steward’s change of allegiance. In fact, he believes he might have remained heavyweight champion of the world to this very day had Steward not been forced from his corner by promoter Don King, one of several shadowy presences he blames for many of the woes that ultimately befell him.

That revelation, and others, suggest that McCall is more into conspiracy theories than that other Oliver, movie director Oliver Stone. It is the recitation of those seemingly bizarre theories, more so than his Friday night bout with Australia’s John “Hoppa” Hopoate (11-2, 11 KOs) for the minor-league IBA Intercontinental heavyweight belt, that continue to certify McCall (51-9, 36 KOs) as one of the more interesting and perplexing characters to have floated upon the boxing scene over the past quarter-century.

Heightening interest in the elder McCall’s comeback – this is his first ring appearance since he lost a unanimous, 12-round decision to Juan Carlos Gomez on Oct. 19, 2007 – is the fact that his 21-year-old son, Elijah McCall (2-0-1, 2 KOs), is on the same card at The Orleans in Las Vegas. McCall the younger swaps punches with Chad Davis (1-2) in a scheduled four-rounder.

Asked what connotations go with carrying the McCall name, Elijah figured the positives outweigh the negatives.

“It’s more of a blessing than a curse,” Elijah said. “Everyone knows that my dad is Oliver McCall. They know about all the great things he’s done in this business. They know all the bad things, too. I’m thankful for the opportunity to show the talents and skills I got from my father, but I want to show that I’m my own man.

An understandable reaction, given that Oliver McCall, who began experimenting with drugs at 13 and since that time has been a troubled spirit toting more baggage than Elizabeth Taylor on an around-the-world trip, has negated nearly every worthy accomplishment with some act of irrational behavior. He is forever an enigma wrapped in a riddle, a perpetual question mark of a human being for whom there never has seemed to be a satisfactory answer.

The mysterious McCall opened up to The Sweet Science and provided some of those answers. And if some of them bespeak a mindset that only he can decipher, well, Freud probably encountered patients who also presented challenges.

Take McCall’s split with Steward, for instance.

“I just talked to Emanuel Steward on the 9th of this month at the Dawson-Tarver rematch,” McCall noted. “That was the first time I really had a chance to talk to him since I knocked out Lennox Lewis in 1994.

“After I beat Lewis, Emanuel and me parted ways, but it wasn’t my idea. It wasn’t his, either. He said, `You know, Oliver, that wasn’t me. That was Don King.’ And it was Don King that forced me and Emanuel to split up.

“It’s too bad because I really believe that if Emanuel Steward had stayed my trainer, I’d still be heavyweight champion. I was a good fighter then and I’m still a good fighter, but Emanuel helped make me the best that I could be.”

Steward, who is in Germany helping IBF/WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko prepare for his June 20 defense against England’s David Haye, was not immediately available for comment. As for King, his standard response to any and all charges of wrongdoing is that he never has been guilty of anything except helping make fighters rich. If wayward members of the flock choose to be ungrateful or misinterpret his good intentions, well, that’s on them.

McCall, a two-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion, was known mainly for being one of Mike Tyson’s sparring partners until he got his big chance for a breakthrough on April 18, 1991. Going into the Atlantic City backyard of then-undefeated contender Bruce Seldon and trailing on the scorecards through eight rounds of a scheduled 10-rounder, McCall floored an exhausted Seldon three times in the ninth round to win by technical knockout. He left the ring with a 16-4 record that includes 10 victories inside the distance, but the Seldon fight stamped him as potentially being something more than a really tough gym fighter.

“Since that time I’ve been ranked in the top 10 by some organization until this year, and this year ain’t over with,” McCall said. “God willing, I’ll be ranked again before the year is over with.”

But talent isn’t always enough, as McCall was to discover. Talent can be detoured by drugs, and booze, and women. Even as he continued to rise in prominence, McCall frequently followed his instincts for getting high and getting laid.

Asked if he has finally cleaned up his act, McCall said, “For today, yes. I’m clean and sober. But when it comes to drugs and alcohol, you’re never completely past it. You know when it’ll be completely past for me? When I’m laid to rest.

“People who have been drug-free for 10 or 20 years, if they get high once, it’s relapse time, baby. It’s something I have to work at daily, just like anything. You got to work at not giving in to the drugs, to the booze, to fornication. You ain’t never past it. You just got to keep running to stay ahead of it.”

Steward was a godsend to McCall not only because he knows his stuff, but because he invited the wild child into his home and more or less adopted him. In addition to spotting the chink in Lewis’ armor – a lazy jab that the champion drew back slowly, leaving him open for the overhand right that McCall detonated upon Lewis’ chin in the second round of their Sept. 24, 1994, title bout in London’s Wembley Arena – Steward cooked for McCall, encouraged him, kept him away from the vices and temptations that forever threatened to send him tumbling into the abyss.

One-time aide-de-camp Bruce Blair, recalling the time when McCall served as a sparring partner for Ray Mercer, said McCall would “toss down shots and beers for three or four hours, leave at midnight with a couple of babes in tow, roll in at 4 a.m. and give Mercer hell in sparring at noon. I always said that if the guy ever harnessed all that physical ability, he could be something special.”

Toward that end, King opted to sequester McCall in various out-of-the-way sites during his preparations for the Lewis fight. McCall’s training base was Henlow Grange Health Farm, a luxurious spa 60 miles from the glitz and glitter of downtown London.

“You look out the window and see lambs in the field!” King said excitedly of the rural setting. “Little sheep! You got streams and brooks and meadows! This is a wonderful place!”

In terrific shape and perhaps just a bit irritable at being around four-legged lambs instead of two-legged honeys, McCall, well prepared by Steward and assistant trainer Greg Page, waited for the moment when Lewis would flick a lazy jab and attempt to follow it with his favorite punch – a big, telegraphed right hand.

He didn’t have to wait long. Lewis gave McCall the opening he was anticipating and Double-L went crashing, face first, to the canvas after catching a thunderous right to the jaw early in the second round. Lewis beat the count, barely, but he was wobbling and glassy-eyed as he lurched into the arms of Mexican referee Lupe Garcia. Garcia did the right thing by signaling the fight to an end.

McCall was on the top of the boxing world, but the euphoria proved to be short-lived. Steward left him for Lewis, removing the safety net that had kept McCall from falling. McCall defended the title once, outpointing 45-year-old Larry Holmes, but relinquished the title to England’s Frank Bruno on Sept. 2, 1995, in Wembley Stadium.

“That was a great time in my life,” McCall said of his brief, emotional roller-coaster title reign. “But when you become heavyweight champion, it comes with expectations. There were things I really wasn’t prepared to deal with.

“I should have enjoyed it more. People would come up to me and say, `What’s up, Champ?’ I’d say, `I ain’t the champ. I’m just Oliver.’ But being champ is special. It’s a gift from God. I give Him all the praise and glory for allowing me to have that gift.”

There would be a rematch with Lewis, of course, but that bout – for the vacant WBC championship on Feb. 7, 1997, at the Las Vegas Hilton – would become infamous for McCall’s crying jag, one of the most curious endings to a boxing match since … well, forever.

McCall had again strayed from the straight and narrow, or maybe he hadn’t actually been on it since he and Steward had their professional divorce. Six weeks before the fight, McCall picked up a 20-foot Christmas tree in the lobby of a Nashville hotel and hurled it in drunken rage. So concerned was Dino Duva, Lewis’ American co-promoter, that he pleaded with King to replace McCall with a more emotionally stable challenger. King insisted McCall would be ready to go on fight night, a promise that looked like it might be kept when a drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission came back negative.

But, emotionally, McCall was like an unraveling spool of thread. Demons were dancing around in his head, raising doubts and fears that manifested itself when referee Mills Lane stepped in and waved off the tearful non-action 55 seconds into the fifth round.

“It was almost as if he wanted to get knocked out,” Lane said at the time. “He didn’t put up any semblance of defending himself so I figured, that’s enough. Something’s wrong. I thought, `This boy needs medical help.’”

So what really happened that night? McCall’s explanation is stranger than what most people saw with their own eyes, if that’s possible.

“I was going through a situation,” McCall said. “I felt I wasn’t being treated fairly, and I wasn’t able to handle the unfairness by certain people that were around me.

“I got kicked out of one gym because I complained that a stripper was coming in and watching me train. Guess what they done? They didn’t kick the stripper out, they kicked me out.

“So I went a couple of days without training while I looked for a new gym. Just a lot of things going on. Bottom line, a lot of those things I brought on myself. The situation I was in, I wasn’t capable of mentally sustaining the repercussions of everything that was happening.”

If it sounds as if McCall needed psychological help, he had already sought it and was, in fact, undergoing treatment.

“I told the psychologist, `I can’t handle this. I need to get out of here. If I’m crazy, please let me know. People are playing games with me, real wicked games.

“The psychologist said, `No, you’re not crazy. But you got to learn to get past this. You got to be strong.’ I told him if they kept playing those games with me, there would come a time in the fight when I’d stop fighting and not throw no punches.”

Exactly what sort of mind games the alleged conspirators were playing with McCall weren’t exactly spelled out, but he said members of his family were used as leverage against him.

“I made arrangements for my mother and my brother to come to the fight,” he said. “They (and he doesn’t list who `they’ were, although the inference is that King was involved) said, `Oliver, if your mama and brother come to the fight, you going to jail.’ That was the last straw. I told my wife and kids, `Don’t look at this fight. Something bad is going to happen.’

“It’s documented, really. I had already told my psychologist I was going to do what I did. He knew. My family knew.

“I was mad. Upset. My life had been messed with too much. I basically said, `All right. If you’re going to play games with me, I got something for y’all.’ In the third round, Lennox hit me with a punch. I went to the ropes and looked at his mama rooting him on. I thought about my mama and I thought, `OK, you can have this now.’

“It hurted me. It made me cry.”

The fallout was immediate and severe. McCall was nuts. He was finished. He’d never be a serious factor in the heavyweight division again. He probably couldn’t even get a bout.

“People said all kind of bad things about me, but I took it,” McCall said. “I swallowed it. All the commentators said, `He’s through. He’ll never fight again.’ But here I am, 14 years later, and I’m fighting for another title. I’ve been blessed.

“If my career had started with that second fight with Lennox Lewis, I can say I accomplished more than 95 percent of all the boxers in the world.”

Prior to his loss to Gomez, McCall had gone 22-1, with two no-decisions, the only defeat to DaVarryl Williamson, when Williamson still was regarded as a major prospect. Off drugs and dedicated to the proposition of regaining at least a sliver of the title for the United States, McCall believes he can be the man to restore America to heavyweight relevance, just as he did when he took out Lewis in 1994.

“The heavyweight division ain’t as wide-open as some people think,” he said. “They say it’s wide-open because the United States has fallen so far behind in the sport of boxing. The Klitschkos, they can fight a little bit. It ain’t like the fighters of old, but they’ve had some pretty good, exciting fights.

“Back when I won the heavyweight title, I got it back after it had left the United States for the first time in, like, a hundred years. I can do it again. I know it.”

McCall’s draping of himself in Old Glory is historically inaccurate; before Lewis, non-Americans Primo Carnera (Italy) and Ingemar Johansson (Sweden) had seized the heavyweight championship. But his return to the ring does raise one legitimate question.

If Bernard Hopkins is still a world-class fighter at 44, can Oliver McCall, Mr. Conspiracy Theory himself, again ascend to the throne?

Articles of 2009

UFC 108 Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva

David A. Avila

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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

George Kimball

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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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