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Articles of 2009

What Time Is It? No Longer Macho Time

Bernard Fernandez

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Among the many things I can’t believe is the Pet Rock fad of the 1970s and how CEOs of failed corporations can walk away with eight- and even nine-figure bonuses while tens of thousands of those corporations’ employees are being laid off and/or having their pensions slashed. Many of those fortunate enough to remain in the work force are being required to accept deep pay cuts and reduced health benefits.

Also on the list of things I can’t believe is that Hector “Macho” Camacho, who turns 47 on May 24, is still gainfully employed as a professional prizefighter, or that his most recent bout was offered as a pay-per-view attraction.

Like the dandelions and crabgrass that irritatingly pop up on our lawns every spring, it seems the Macho Man, even in severe career decline, is impossible to eradicate. You can arrest him, suspend him and evict him, but like those pesky weeds now shooting up in America’s flower beds, he inevitably makes another appearance when you least expect it.

Or maybe we should expect it. Boxing’s senior practicioners never really die, metaphorically speaking, especially with a lack of fresh, exciting talent coming along to speed their demise. They just fade away very, very slowly, like the old soldier in Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address at West Point. Oh, sure, 44-year-old Bernard Hopkins still has the goods to rank among boxing’s pound-for-pound elite, but do we really need the continual recycling of Camacho? Of Evander Holyfield? Of Ray Mercer? Right now in a theater near you, there is even a documentary in which Mike Tyson, no longer an active fighter but as omnipresent as smog in Los Angeles, recites his thoughts as to why he is like he is.

If you want nearly two hours of convoluted logic, “Tyson” is as far out as anything seen on the big screen since 1967’s “The Trip” starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, pre-“Easy Rider,” as a couple of drug-addled hippies in a celluloid LSD haze.

In case you missed it – and I’m guessing you probably did – Camacho (79-5-3, 38 KOs) and 37-year-old Yory Boy Campas (92-14-1, 74 KOs) fought to an eight-round draw Saturday night in Orlando, Fla., in a PPV fight that ran opposite the HBO Championship Boxing offering of IBF light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson against former 175-pound titlist Antonio Tarver.  Dawson won a clear-cut decision over Tarver, 40, in a marginally improved version of their first clash, on Oct. 11, which was televised by Showtime.

At first blush, fight fans who hold out hope of higher standards in their flagging sport might wonder why Dawson-Tarver II received the exposure that it did. By all accounts, ticket sales at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas were tepid at best and probably worse than that. Fewer than a thousand face-value tickets were said to have been purchased, and any seats that were filled beyond that scrawny number were probably occupied by fannies that gained entrance via a whopping discount or on freebies. It wouldn’t be the first time a boxing promoter (Gary Shaw in this instance) has papered the house for aesthetic purposes.

At least there are quasi-legitimate reasons for why Dawson-Tarver II, a rematch hardly anyone was clamoring for, came about. First and foremost, there was a rematch clause in the original contract that mandated that Tarver, then the IBF and IBO 175-pound champ, get first dibs at “Bad Chad” if he lost. It can be argued that rematch clauses are one of the more insidious causes for the erosion in boxing’s popularity, along with too many alphabet titles, too many weight classes, the near-total absence of free, over-the-air TV dates, the forced granting of options would-be challengers are obliged to sign over for a shot at some promoters’ champions and, of course, the insanity of an organization like the WBA reasoning that the public will accept “super,”  “regular” and “interim” titlists in the same weight class.

But HBO, which has rejected bouts that, in theory, were at least as appealing as Dawson-Tarver II, went along with the Rematch We All Could Have Done Without. The pay-cable giant’s boxing operation has always showcased its stable of actual or would-be superstars, the idea being that fans will settle for big names if they can’t always get big fights. But the retirements of Oscar De La Hoya and Arturo Gatti, the deterioration of Roy Jones Jr. and the inevitable aging of Hopkins have seen many of the old reliables ushered out or nearly so, opening the door for Manny Pacquiao and, maybe, Dawson to step up and partially fill the void. Pac-Man is the real deal, of course, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is returning to action, and none too soon by HBO’s reckoning. But the HBO roster is still a bit thin. Kelly Pavlik was exposed by Hopkins, Shane Mosley is still pretty good but not getting any younger, and Antonio Margarito, who had finally made it onto HBO’s radar, got caught with loaded hand wraps and is as radioactive to fight fans as Mark McGwire is to Baseball Hall of Fame voters.

The movers and shakers at HBO – Sports Division president Ross Greenburg, senior vice president Kery Davis and PPV chief Mark Taffet – don’t always guess right. Remember when we were told that Prince Naseem Hamed would be what Pacquiao eventually proved himself to be? Remember the hype attached to the rapid rise and equally rapid fall of massive heavyweight Michael Grant? When you really get down to it, the suits at HBO are like general managers in baseball who hope to draft wisely, but, if that phenom of a prospect doesn’t quite pan out, there’s always the New York Yankees way: Throw money at the most attractive free agent.

Sometimes it works out for the Yankees and HBO, sometimes it doesn’t. Lefthanded pitcher CC Sabathia could become the next Whitey Ford (the Steinbrenners are hoping he will) or the next Carl Pavano (they’re praying he won’t), and good luck if pricey free-agent first baseman Mark Texeteira, he of the eight-year, $180-million contract, doesn’t start hitting soon.

Dawson apparently has been identified as a growth property by HBO, but he comes wrapped in a Yankee-like conundrum. Even if he’s as talented as some believe, he has yet to demonstrate he’s a ratings-grabber or ever will evolve into one. Maybe Dawson is, as HBO color commentator Max Kellerman mused, a B-plus fighter in a C weight class, which is to say a star but not a potential superstar.

However HBO’s gamble on Dawson pays off, or not, this much is sure: Dawson-Tarver II was a barn-burner when compared to the curious pairing of no-longer-prime-time players Camacho and Campas in Orlando. Once upon a time, this would have been an interesting matchup of boxer (Camacho) and puncher (Campas), but a Niagara’s worth of water has flowed under the bridge since the Puerto Rican cutie and Mexican banger were at the top of their games. Camacho always utilitzed clutch-and-grab tactics as a component of his arsenal of tricks, but he once was a truly gifted fighter who compensated for his lack of pop with charisma, outlandish outfits and penchant for notoriety. Campas was never quite as accomplished, but he was a lunchbox type of fighter who always had that big punch to fall back on if nothing else was working.

That someone reasoned that John Q. Public was ready to lay down some of those dwindling dollars for Camacho and Campas to get it on defies rationality, but there you have it. Promoter Diane Lee Fischer struck a deal with the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City to stage the show, and there was some mild interest in it despite the fact that the two headliners were a combined 84 years of age, Campas had lost four of his previous five bouts and Camacho had fought only once in 46 months. But, in a seashore town where reunions of Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian still draw nostalgic crowds, apparently there were enough fans who remembered Camacho’s most recent A.C. appearance, in which he sent the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard into permanent retirement with a fifth-round stoppage on March 1, 1997, to merit another comeback.

What’s more, vastly popular Hall of Fame trainer Angelo Dundee, a longtime acquaintance of Camacho, had consented to work the Macho Man’s corner. To gain maximum benefit from Dundee being in town, a “roast” of the 87-year-old icon was scheduled for the Friday night preceding the fight. A slew of boxing notables had committed to feting Dundee, and there was possibility The Greatest himself, Muhammad Ali, would jet in to honor his longtime trainer.

But, although Camacho passed his physical, that fact did not satisfy the curiosity of Aaron Davis, the former Kansas boxing commissioner who in November 2008 replaced Larry Hazzard Sr. as head of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Davis wanted to see with his own eyes whether Camacho had anything left in his tank. And what he observed during a March 1 sparring session at the Atlantic City Police Athletic League gym apparently convinced Davis that Camacho was running on empty.

“I didn’t feel his skills were up to the level they needed to be for him to be competitive,” said Davis, who was more inclined to approve of what he had seen of Campas in the gym. “He sparred maybe seven rounds against two guys (locals Shamone Alvarez and Patrick Perez), and at no point of any round did he take control. He showed nothing, and this is a fighter with a reputation for being elusive, smart and quick.”

Davis informed Fischer and Camacho that Camacho would not be allowed to fight in Jersey, but that Fischer could stage the remainder of the card  if she so chose. She elected not to do so.

So, is this the end of Camacho down the shore? Will he go the way of the diving horse at the Steel Pier?

“Camacho can apply again,” Davis said. “I’m not going to say he can never fight in New Jersey again. But he would have to go through the same procedure he did this time, and I or one of my deputy commissioners would have to see him spar again. Just passing a physical is not sufficient.”

Davis’ unilateral decision is reminiscent of then-New York boxing commissioner Ron Scott Stevens’ pulling the license of four-time former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield after ’Vander turned in a subpar performance in losing a 12-round decision to Larry Donald on Nov. 13, 2004, in Madison Square Garden. Hazzard also wielded his authority like a cudgel, once proclaiming that Meldrick Taylor couldn’t fight again in New Jersey because his skills had eroded to a dangerously low level.

A reasonable guess is that Camacho wouldn’t put himself up for a similar inspection in the Garden State, given the humiliation of being turned away, but then this guy is pretty much is resistant to the concept of being embarrassed. Hey, he once was pulled over by a cop in Florida for “doing the wild thing” in a convertible with the top down while being straddled by a pretty female passenger as he attempted to drive down a rural road. Talk about your moving violations.

Camacho downplayed that incident, as he did his arrest by cops in Gulfport, Miss., in January 2004 allegedly for attempting to burglarize an electronics store. He said he merely was trying to retrieve his own computer, which was in the store for repairs.

For years boxing’s paparazzi and gossip-mongerers jumped on Camacho’s misdeeds with relish because he was still relevant in the ring. Camacho, in turn, welcomed the publicity, even when it seemingly was negative, because he is a natural showoff and narcissist. Who can forget the time in Reno when, at a dead-of-night weigh-in, he came in a few ounces overweight and decided to remove his only article of clothing, his underwear. “Now you womens look away if you don’t wanna see,” a smiling Camacho said as he stood in the altogether, without benefit of a towel held up in front of him, for any womens to see.

Now he is turned away from Atlantic City like a hobo, and his quick shift to Orlando didn’t elicit a stampede on the box office. His behavior still leans to the outrageous, but he no longer is relevant in the ring.

I’m not sure how anyone else feels about it, but I think it makes me sad. After all, we’ve already seen that Hector Camacho Jr. is no substitute for the original.

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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