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Articles of 2009

Eddie Chambers' Coming-Out, And Coming-Home, Party

Bernard Fernandez

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There are those who to this day insist that future heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, upon returning from his gold-medal-winning performance at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, was greeted at Philadelphia International Airport by … no one.

No brass band. No television cameras. No tape recorder- and notebook-wielding reporters. No throngs of well-wishing fans.

So reportedly frustrated was Smokin’ Joe by the lack of hoopla over his signal accomplishment that he temporarily went back to his job at a local slaughterhouse, convinced he was through with boxing and boxing was through with him. But then a group of area businessmen formed an alliance called Cloverlay to financially back Frazier’s early professional career in the belief that, hey, maybe the young slugger with the sledgehammer left hook just might make a go of it in the ring.

It’s a funny thing about Philadelphia, which long has prided itself as being America’s premier fight town, the place where great champions are forged at a per-capita rate that exceeds any other municipality. At one point in the 1970s, four of the world’s top 10 middleweights all resided within Philly’s city limits. Another was world-rated at junior middleweight. What would be the odds of that happening now? Ten thousand to one? Higher?

But while Philadelphia boxing gold medalists Meldrick Taylor and Tyrell Biggs were honored with a parade in their hometown following their successes at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the route was only eight blocks long and was observed mostly by curious lunchtime passers-by. When longtime Philly icon Bernard Hopkins became the first man to knock out Oscar De La Hoya, on Sept. 18, 2004, the parade hastily organized to celebrate “The Executioner’s” feat drew perhaps 10,000 enthusiastic fans, a nice turnout but far less than the seven-figure mob that packed Center City after the 2008 Phillies ended 25 years of civic frustration in the major team sports by knocking off the Tampa Bay Rays in five games in the World Series.

And if you think that was lovefest was as good as it possibly can get for a Philly franchise, wait to you see how huge the outpouring of affection will be if and when those perennial playoff bridesmaids, the Eagles, ever win a Super Bowl.

So maybe the welcoming committee for heavyweight Eddie Chambers upon his arrival from Germany, where he had pulled a Fourth of July upset of unbeaten Ukrainian Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko, wasn’t as extensive as it had been for Taylor and Biggs. Comprised of Denise Murray, wife of Chambers’ manager-trainer, Rob Murray Sr., and a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, it was at least as much as the turnout for Frazier 45 years earlier.

“Who’s that?” one departing passenger inquired as the reporter interviewed Chambers.

“Must be some kind of a celebrity,” another responded.

Must be. But know this: should the transplanted Chambers, 27, who moved cross-state from Pittsburgh to Philly in 2002 to advance his boxing career, return from his likely next trip across the Atlantic Ocean on a similar winning note, it’s a virtual certainty his reception at the airport will be bigger and warmer.

The heavyweight championship of the world might not carry the cachet it once did, but tradition dictates that it still rates a reasonable amount of TV face time and an opportunity for any new claimant to satisfy the curiosity of previously disinterested media inquisitors.

To Rob Murray Sr.’s way of thinking, Chambers’ 12-round, majority decision over Dimitrenko in a WBO heavyweight eliminator is merely the precursor to an even more shocking upset, the one in which the undersized “Fast Eddie” flummoxes another Ukrainian giant widely regarded as the best big man in boxing,WBO/IBF heavyweight titlist Wladimir Klitschko, with his quick hands and middleweight’s mobility. Klitschko, who also regularly fights in Germany, would be a significant favorite over Chambers (35-1, 18 KOs), but then so was Dimitrenko (29-1, 19 KOs).

“Eddie showed everybody how to beat a big guy,” Murray said after Chambers, just 6-1 and a trim 208¼ pounds, the lightest he’s been since he scaled in at 207 for a 2003 bout with Allen Smith, systematically chopped down Dimitrenko, who at 6-7 and 253½ towered above him as might an NBA power forward posting up a point guard.

“We are No. 1 in the world, not just the United States, and, yes, I’m including the Klitschkos (the WBC heavyweight champ is Wladimir’s older brother, Vitali). Eddie Chambers is the best heavyweight in the world. Absolutely he is the best heavyweight in the United States. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

Supporters of Cristobal Arreola, the 6-4, 255-pound big banger from Riverside, Calif. – who, incidentally, is promoted by Goossen Tutor, as is Chambers – might dispute Murray’s claims as to the identity of the current main man in U.S. heavyweight boxing. Certainly, those who regard the Klitschkos as superior beings far above the shallow talent pool of American wannabes aren’t buying what Murray is selling. But Murray always has had a keen eye for talent, and Chambers’ rise to his present level of prominence is exactly what he envisioned in 2002, when, acting on a tip from a friend, he checked out the pudgy kid with the rapid-firecombinations.

Who knew that Chambers’ eight-round, unanimous decision over David Chappell – no, not the smart-alecky comedian – in Pittsburgh on April 26, 2002, would provide Murray with a glimpse into a crystal ball whose blurry images only now coming into sharper focus.

“I thought Eddie had a lot of potential,” said Murray, who was then better known as the host of a weekly boxing show on a Philadelphia black radio station. “It just needed to be developed.”

Toward that end, Murray convinced Chambers and his father, Eddie Sr., to relocate to Philadelphia, where the fight scene is busier and the sparring would be more intense. It doesn’t take long for the pretenders to be separated from the possible contenders in those legendary Philly gym wars. Thus began Chambers’ extended apprenticeship at the Blue Horizon, the musty sweat shop on North Broad Street where any number of Philadelphia’s more prominent practicioners of the pugilistic arts have refined their craft. His first of 18 appearances there, on May 24, 2002, was a rematch with Chappell, whom Chambers again dispatched on a unanimous, six-round decision to boost his record to 9-0.

Chambers didn’t move up to main-event status until April 25, 2003, when, only 21 and in his fifth bout at the Blue Horizon, he stopped journeyman CraigTomlinson in four rounds. Murray – who picked up tricks of the trainer’s trade from such legendary Philadelphia cornermen as Yank Durham and Sam Solomon, and used that knowledge to great advantage in his associations with Steve Little and Will “Stretch” Taylor – was serving only as the manager then, with Chambers’ father continuing to serve as chief second.

The quality of Chambers’ opposition increased incrementally, from Sam Tillman, Cornelius Ellis and Marcus Rhode to Melvin Foster, Ross Puritty and Ed Mahone to Dominick Guinn and Derric Rossy. Chambers’ first fight for Goossen Tutor came on May 4, 2007, a unanimous, 10-round decision over onetime contender Dominick Guinn at the Palms in Las Vegas. He followed that with a split decision over 2000 U.S. Olympian Calvin Brock in Tacoma, Wash., earning him a date in an IBF heavyweight eliminator against massive Russian Alexander Povetkin in Berlin. But, after a promising beginning, Chambers tailed off in the middle and later rounds and lost a unanimous, 12-round decision.

That who had already written off Chambers as too small, too light and too underpowered to make much headway in a heavyweight division dominated by enormous Eastern Europeans considered his loss to Povetkin as indisputable proof that their skepticism had been justified. But you know what they say: sometimes you have to take a step backward before you can take two forward. Eddie Chambers Sr. was replaced as his son’s lead trainer after the Povetkin debacle, Murray assuming the dual duties of manager and trainer. “Eddie was prepared for a fight, but not the fight,” Murray said of his charge’s curious failure to recognize that not all bouts are or should be considered equal.

The tweaking of Eddie Chambers continues. He is now 5-0 on the comeback trail since Povetkin, including what surely what was his farewell to the Blue Horizon, a fifth-round stoppage of Livan Castillo on Oct. 3, 2008. Upon the conclusion of that valedictory, someone should have given him some kind of diploma to commemorate the occasion.

Although Chambers was 223 pounds – the second-highest of his career — for his previous bout, a 10-round majority decision over former WBC heavyweight champion Samuel Peter, he and Murray concluded that being bigger and stronger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

“The extra weight just made me slower,” Chambers said after he turned Dimitrenko into an oversized heavy bag. “After the Peter fight, I took off 10 pounds in a week and a half. It came off easy. I vowed that I’d never get up over 215 again, even between fights.

“Keeping my weight down will help me stay effective. I was sharper. I was faster. My movement was much better. I didn’t have a jiggly midsection. It makes all the difference. I was able to get on my toes and stay on my toes. I had more energy throughout the fight. I like the way my new body feels. I like the way it looks, too.”

If Dimitrenko was expecting to see the Chambers who fought at the same leisurely pace he did against Povetkin, he had to be sorely disappointed. Chambers officially was credited with two knockdowns. On the first, referee Geno Rodriguez gave Dimitrekno a standing eight-count in the seventh round when Dimitrenko doubled over in pain from a left hook to the body. The Ukrainian claimed his distress was the result of a low blow, but Rodriguez ruled the punch was legal.

Then, in the 10th round, Chambers sent Dimitrenko crashing to the canvas, dislodging his mouthpiece in the process, with a hook to the jaw.

The decision for Chambers should have been a given, but British judge Paul Thomas, ignoring the obvious, submitted a scorecard that read 113-113. His colleagues, GlennFeldman and Fernando Laguna, ensured that justice was done by turning in cards that had Chambers rolling by margins of 117-109 and 116-111, respectively.

“I don’t speak German, but I knew something was wrong when people started booing,” Chambers said of the audience reaction when Thomas’ score was announced. “After the sixth or seventh round, I had won over the crowd. When the people booed, I knew something bad had happened. I have to say, I was worried.”

Ironically, Chambers was hooted by the pro-Dimitrenko turnout as he made his way to the ring at Hamburg’s Color Line Arena. That he swayed so many spectators made for a scene right out of 1985’s Rocky IV.

“All that was missing were Sylvester Stallone and an American flag to drape around my shoulders,” Chambers said. “Sascha even looks a little like Dolph Lundgren (who played Ivan Drago in Rocky IV).”

So, again, is Chambers a rugged enough runt to whittle down the 6-6¾, 245-pound Wladimir Klitschko? If you believe that mystery guest must be possessed of one-punch putaway power, probably not. When Chambers wins inside the distance, it’s usually the result of accumulated damage.

“For Klitschko, I’ll have fight plans ready to counter two people – Klitschko and Emanuel Steward (Klitschko’s Hall of Fame trainer),” Murray said, the wheels already whirling inside his mind. “Look, I know what some people have said about Eddie, are still saying about him. He’s just a Blue Horizon fighter, a club fighter. He’s supposedly too short, too light, can’t punch. Hey, a lot of people said some of the same things about Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey. They weren’t real big guys, but they could fight. This kid can fight.”

And if Chambers can do more giant-slaying while remaining taut and trim, the benefits could extend even beyond a bejeweled championship belt.

“No more `Fat Eddie,’” he said. “I’m `Fast Eddie’ again, and I’m going to stay that way. Who knows? Maybe I can get an underwear commercial out of this.”

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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