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Why It Matters If That Mayweather Rumor Is Truth

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Three days before Floyd Mayweathers‘ “final” professional fight, an “October surprise” kerfuffle popped up, as it always does, in the days leading up to fights involving the man self- billed as The Best Ever.

This bombshell wasn’t a lawsuit lodged by an ex, or the like; the news peg here was the subject of PED testing, and the story, entitled “Can Boxing Trust USADA: Questions Surround Drug Testing For Mayweather-Pacquiao and Other Bouts,” drew some heavy buzz.

Maybe, arguably, not as much buzz as some might expect, being that a case was laid out by the dean of fight-writers, Thomas Hauser, and it involved the lead dog of the sport, Mayweather, who in the last several years had become a figure who transcended his sport.

The story came out during the lunch-time hour back east, but during a gathering held hours later in Vegas, none of the bigshot boxing media asked Mayweather about it, and elements that might be of interest to fight fans.

Such as, the Hauser story repeated an enduring rumor, that Mayweather had tested positive for a banned PED in three previous fights, but received a pass from the testing organization hired to handle PED testing and analyze and process the results of the testing.

Hauser had touched on that element before, back in November 2012, and then, as now, the story fizzled out. The writer went back to the well, on Oct. 13, believing, as I do, that this story deserves to have legs, and shouldn’t be summarily dismissed by the masses as being irrelevant.

Floyd fans, in particular, will disagree, by and large: as the “three failed tests” portion of the story was presented as a rumor, and lacked corroboration, they dismiss it as spurious, or, at least, lacking in enough merit to be plausible. There is no “there,” there…there is no smoking gun for us to make up our minds on, thus, they posit, we should move on.

That line of thinking I don’t summarily dismiss; after all, one learns, in journalism courses, that rumors must be verified before being reported. There must be strong sourcing, and ideally, multiple sources confirming something before rumor can become accepted fact. And that is why this story, this subject, this case, is more than a sports story. It is yes a sports story, but also a journalism story, a culture study, an ethical matter…

In short, it is complex, and, frankly, we the media don’t usually do “complex” well.

It’s easier to traffic in less complicated, less charged matters. But in the end, to delve into substantive matters, and try to make sense of the difficult-to-grasp issues, make us better humans, and in this vein, can and could make our sport safer, and better.

In that vein, in trying to nail down some facts, and move from rumor to fact, or, also, to debunk this persistent rumor, I tried to follow up.

In my mind, it made sense for the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), an organization that Hauser, right there in the headline of his piece, posits may not be trustworthy, to answer, explicitly, that designation and firmly rebut the “tested positive on three occasions” rumor, if it were not fact.

Some of us follow politics, and recall back in 2004, John Kerry, a Massachusetts Senator, snagged the Democrats nomination to run for President, to unseat incumbent George W. Bush.

All is fair in love and war, and politics is modified war, with character often being bombed to smithereens…so opponents went at Kerry hard. His record while serving in Vietnam came under scrutiny, with allegations being lobbed at him that his Purple Hearts were bogus, that descriptions of his valor in the field were fabricated. The allegations were dismissed in his camp, the campaign runners deciding that the accusers were fringe loons, with obvious axes to grind, and would be treated as such by potential voters. They missed the (Swift) boat; this is a new age, where information, right or wrong, travels around the world digitally in half the blink of an eye. A juicy lie can snowball into a hellish package of “truthiness” than can wreak havoc, summon carnage of reputation, and derail a campaign with surging with positive momentum. Swift Boating, with the definition by and large seen as opinion disguised and presented as fact used to assassinate in character as public figure, entered our lexicon…

Now, this is the SB Nation passage that struck me, hard, on the temple, before that last Floyd fight:

As reported by this writer on MaxBoxing in Dec. 2012, information filtered through the drug-testing community on May 20, 2012 to the effect that Mayweather had tested positive on three occasions for an illegal performance-enhancing drug. More specifically, it was rumored that Mayweather’s “A” sample had tested positive three times and, after each positive test, USADA had given Floyd an inadvertent use waiver.

Pro Floyd sorts sometimes reach out to me on social media, and tell me they think their guy is being Swift Boated. But even some folks who normally align on the “Floyd side” read the Hauser piece and said, at minimum, ‘jeeze, there’s a lot of smoke here, I do at least wonder if there is fire there, too.’

I try to see all sides; it’s what we as journos need to do, as best we can, because if we don’t start at that baseline, finding the truth becomes that much harder. When I read this portion of the Hauser story, I knew I needed to follow through, to attempt to separate fact from fiction, to get to the heart of the matter: did, in fact, the leader in our sport, who was able to secure the richest contract for any professional athlete ever, cheat his way to that rarefied place?

Was Floyd Mayweather, who helped build his rep, partially, by trumpeting the phrase “take the test” at potential rival Manny Pacquiao, and thereby implying that the Filipino was a cheater, in fact, a cheater?

If yes, we need to know, just because.

Because the sport and our society deserve better.

If no, we also need to know, because if he is being smeared, without basis in fact, then that must be rectified. Even if you don’t care for his out of the ring behavior, decry his history in getting into altercations with women, find despicable his recent lack of penitence surrounding the incident which saw him beat up the mother of his children, in front of said children, which is a matter of public record, then he still deserves to not be labeled a drug cheat if he isn’t. If he didn’t test positive three times and get those results swept under the rug, then I’d like to have that stated to us all, forcefully, unequivocally…because Floyd Mayweather does not deserve to be Swift Boated.

So, with that in mind, I reached out to USADA and Team Mayweather and asked, explicitly, please confirm or deny this rumor, that he tested positive before three mega-fights, so I can furnish that response to readers.

Here is my request to USADA:

Greetings: Can Travis please respond to this issue, and either confirm or deny that Mr. Mayweather tested positive three times. Here is the Hauser material which I’d like to get clarified, so the rumor, if false, can be reported far and wide.

As reported by this writer on MaxBoxing in Dec. 2012, information filtered through the drug-testing community on May 20, 2012 to the effect that Mayweather had tested positive on three occasions for an illegal performance-enhancing drug. More specifically, it was rumored that Mayweather’s “A” sample had tested positive three times and, after each positive test, USADA had given Floyd an inadvertent use waiver. These waivers, if they were in fact given, would have negated the need to test Floyd’s “B” samples. And because the “B” samples were never tested, a loophole in Mayweather’s USADA contract would have allowed testing to continue without the positive “A” sample results being reported to Mayweather’s opponent or the Nevada State Athletic Commission……If Mayweather’s “A” sample tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug on one or more occasions and he was given a waiver by USADA that concealed this fact from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, his opponent, and the public, it could contribute to a scandal that undermines the already-shaky public confidence in boxing. At present, the relevant information is not a matter of public record.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart (through senior communications manager Annie Skinner) declined to state how many times the “A” sample of a professional boxer tested by USADA has come back positive for a prohibited substance.

I think this is crucial, that we get clarity on this portion of the story. I hope you agree.

Thanks much,

Michael Woods

Here is the USADA response, from a spokesperson:

Dear Mr. Woods,

You can find USADA’s full response, including the response to your request below in the detailed chart at http://www.usada.org/wp-content/uploads/USADAs-Detailed-Correction-to-SB-Nation-Article-by-Tom-Hauser.pdf

I responded, thusly: So (Tygart) will not respond to THIS element of the allegations, separately, to me, then?

And I didn’t receive an answer to that query.

Also, I emailed Mayweather publicist Kelly Swanson, and her associate Lisa Milner, and asked them to furnish a request to Mayweather, so he could respond to this rumor and get an opportunity to bat down the allegations.

Greetings: Can Team Mayweather please respond to this issue, and either confirm or deny that Mr. Mayweather tested positive three times, as was alleged in the Sept. 9 Thomas Hauser story?

Here is the Hauser material which I’d like to get clarified, so the rumor, if false, can be reported far and wide.

I didn’t receive a reply from either Swanson or Milner.

So, where do we stand? Probably, sadly, where we stood before, in a foggy zone of uncertainty. To my way of thinking, and I will put it right out there that I won’t submit my POV is the only right manner to see this issue, if it were my reputation and legacy, if I were Floyd Mayweather, I’d want to eradicate lingering questions.

If I were Tygart of USADA, if I were Team Mayweather, I’d push back without equivocation on this ‘Floyd tested positive three times and the results were shoved under a rung’ rumor, put it in its place.

That neither of these parties do, to me, is at best curious.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

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ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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