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Pascal Wants Random Testing For PEDs, Buck Stops With Kovalev Promoter Duva, Though

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WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Kathy Duva checked in with TSS, and talked about progress on the PED testing issue for #KovalevPascal.

“Sergey Kovalev has informed me that he wishes to arrange for random, WADA Code compliant VADA testing in advance of his WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight Title defense against Jean Pascal on March 14th,” she told me.  “We are beginning to make the necessary arrangements with VADA today (Wednesday).

“Until mandatory drug testing is done year-round and regulated by a competent and neutral regulatory body that also provides education to boxers and their teams, I believe this kind of ad hoc enhanced testing is nothing more than a PR stunt.  In my view, no meaningful progress toward cleaning up the sport will be made this way. Our efforts should be focused on reform and regulation,” she continued.

“However, since Pascal has accused Sergey of using PEDs, Sergey is eager to take Pascal up on his offer to pay for the tests.  While I have consistently stated that I am opposed to such unregulated testing as a matter of policy, I understand why Sergey wants to take the tests and silence the critics.

“Because some have suggested that I oppose this kind of testing out of fear that Sergey will test positive, I wish to set the record straight right now. I am not the least bit concerned that Sergey is cheating. I am, however, worried that Pascal could test positive and we will have to cancel the fight.  Both Pascal and Sergey stated that they would be willing to go through with the fight in the event of a failed test.  However, this is not legally possible.  Pascal suggested that a monetary penalty would be appropriate in the event of a failed test.  So, apparently, Pascal’s  concern for his own health and safety has a price.

“In a surprising number of documented cases, it was the fighter who demanded the enhanced testing who failed,” the promoter continued. “On the other hand, I do not believe that this kind of testing prevents or catches all kinds of cheating– especially where a fighter has a known PED provider on his team.” (ED. NOTE: This is a reference to the controversial strength and conditioning and supplement expert “Memo” Heredia, who does indeed advise Pascal.)

“Of course I am concerned for the health of all fighters. But it seems that much of the recent talk about ad hoc, unregulated testing is being promoted by the very “nutrition scientists” who simply want to prove to their clients that they can beat any test–thereby ensuring an uneven playing field.

Having said that, I believe that no matter what Jean Pascal does, he cannot beat Sergey Kovalev.  This action by Sergey will allow everyone to focus on the fight rather than publicity stunts.?”

So there you go. Fightin’ Kathy Duva comes back with a hardcore flurry, as expected.

————————————————————————————————————————-

 

 

 

 

Jean Pascal seemed undaunted by the task of taking on Russian terminator Sergey Kovalev on March 14, in Montreal, at the NYC presser for the HBO bout which unfolded on Wednesday. The Haitian-born hitter was intense but polite at that event. But he’s gotten a bit more feisty around the issue of PED testing. Pascal told TSS that he’s keen to do random testing ahead of this bout, and he wants to make sure The Krusher is of the same mind.

“Kovalev is scared to do the test,” is the conclusion Pascal told me he came to.

Kovalev manager Egis Klimas checked with TSS on the matter. “We did agree to random testing if (Team Pascal) will pay for it,” he said. He suggested I talk to his promoter, Kathy Duva, to get more deets. So I did.

Duva’s response: “It has come to my attention that Jean Pascal has asked why Sergey Kovalev’s team turned down a request for drug testing,” Duva said. “Like Pascal, Sergey is a proud, clean professional athlete and he did not refuse to submit to enhanced drug testing. I am the one who doesn’t want to do it.

“I have consistently said that I do not believe promoters should attempt to act as regulators. None of us have the competence, expertise or neutrality that is necessary to conduct drug testing in a fair and transparent way. We understand that this is an unpopular position, but after careful consideration we believe it is the right position nonetheless.

“When Major League Baseball implemented drug testing, they conducted tests for years before imposing any consequences–which allowed for the development of responsible policies and player education. We do not have that luxury. The recent history of this type of testing in boxing has been spotty at best – results known to promoters but not disclosed to fighters, disputes over the consequences of a failed test, non-uniform tests and procedures, “lost” tests, planned tests that never happened, advance notice of when “random” tests would be administered, etc. Looking to other combat sports, the UFC announced, this month, that they had scrapped plans for a year-round testing program due to the failures and confusion caused by their experiments with enhanced drug testing.”

“I’ve talked to a lot of fighters about this,” Duva continued. “My question to them is always: If your opponent tests positive, do you want me to cancel the fight? Every one of them has said no. In fact, Jean Pascal’s management indicated that they would wish to go through with the fight and asked that a monetary penalty be assessed in the event of a failed a test. That is simply not possible. If someone tests positive for a banned substance, the fight cannot happen.”

I asked Pascal about this potential situation. He told me that yes indeed, he would agree to have the fight go on, and would accept a cut from the purse of a foe who tested positive, so the event could go forward.

Duva continued: “We explored the possibility that we might embargo the results until after the fight. Rightly so, our lawyers agreed that we could not conceal the results. These ad hoc, unregulated tests available only to fighters who can afford them are not a solution.

“Well-intentioned efforts often cause unintended consequences and simply create new problems. Enhanced drug testing is an issue that boxing commissions should study and work with before formulating plans for its implementation. These plans must consider all of the potential complications (for example, what constitutes in-competition and out-of-competition banned substances and when those periods start and end), testing at all levels, and education for all fighters. We fully support boxing commissions in those efforts.”

Pascal isn’t down with Duva’s stance. “She should be concerned about the health of the fighters, instead of losing money on a promotion,” he told me.

Duva’s daughter Nicole, an attorney, touched on the “health of the fighters” angle. “One thing to consider, though, what is the point of doing the testing if you’re willing to go through with the fight regardless of the result? You can’t claim it’s about the fighter’s health anymore,” she said.

Should Team Kovalev come around on the matter, Pascal said, he’s still willing to foot the bill for testing for both he and Kovalev, which he said would run anywhere from $25-40,000. He told me that he’s been doing random testing since he fought Lucian Bute on Jan. 18, 2014, and has been tested “two or three times.” He is not afraid to cite his association with controversial supplement specialist “Memo” Heredia, who has worked with for about two years. “I want a clean sport,” said Pascal, in closing.

My take: I’m seeing merit in what both sides are saying. I like Pascal’s push for testing. And I have less than zero reason to suspect Kovalev is on anything odious. And I don’t take issue with Duva’s well composed reasoning on the subject. This subject is such a work in progress, and we are in the infant stages regarding how we treat PED testing in fight sports.

So, I report, you opine. Talk to me…

FOLLOW WOODS ON TWITTER https://twitter.com/Woodsy1069

Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events

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In a Massive Upset, Dakota Linger TKOs Kurt Scoby on a Friday Night in Atlanta

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Although it was an 8-rounder on a show with two “tens,” Kurt Scoby’s match with Dakota Linger was accorded main event status on tonight’s card at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta. This had everything to do with Scoby (pronounced Scooby), a former record-setting college running back who was considered one of the brightest prospects in the 140-pound weight class. “[Scoby] works harder than almost anyone I’ve ever seen,” said veteran New York promoter Lou DIBella in a conversation with Keith Idec. “But he’s literally getting better after every fight and he’s got the hammer of Thor, man. He can punch through walls.”

The Duarte, California product who has relocated to Brooklyn and trains at Gleason’s Gym, was undefeated (13-0) heading in and was expected to make Linger his ninth straight knockout victim. But Linger, a 29-year-old Buckhannon, West Virginia policemen whose first ring engagements were in Toughman competitions, wasn’t intimidated by Scoby’s press clippings or by Scoby’s bodybuilder physique.

Linger, who improved to 14-6-3 with his tenth win inside the distance, took the fight right to Scoby and repeatedly found a home for his overhand right. In the sixth round, after Linger strafed the ever-retreating Scoby with a barrage of punches, referee Malik Walid determined that he had seen enough and waived it off. The decision seemed a tad premature, but neither Scoby nor his cornermen offered anything in the way of a protest.

Tournament results

In the first installment of an 8-man super welterweight tournament, Brandon Adams returned to boxing after his second three-year layoff and showed no ring rust whatsoever. Adams, a 34-year-old family-man who grew up in the Watts district of LA, dismissed Ismael Villareal with a wicked punch to the liver in the waning seconds of round three. The official time was 2:59.

A former wold title challenger, Adams who improved to 23-3 (16 KOs), has become the king of boxing tournaments. He first attracted notice in 2018 when he won the fifth edition of “The Contender” series, scoring a wide 10-round decision over Shane Mosley Jr in the championship round.

Villareal, a second-generation prizefighter from the Bronx whose dad fought the likes of Hector Camacho, declined to 13-3.

Adams next opponent will be Francisco Veron who will bring a record of 14-0-1 (10).

In an energetic 10-rounder, Veron, a Florida-based Argentine with a strong amateur pedigree, scored a unanimous decision over Mexico-born, LA southpaw Angel Ruiz (18-3-1). The judges had it 100-90, 99-91, and 96-94.

Ruiz certainly had his moments, but Veron launched and landed many more punches despite fighting the last six rounds with a damaged eye.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 281: The Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia Show

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Over the years bouts between old foes such as Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia tend to be surprising.

Yes, both are only 25 but have known each other for many years.

When undisputed super lightweight champion Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) steps into the prize ring at Barclays Center to meet challenger Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) on Saturday, April 20, fans will be witnessing the continuation of a feud that began more than a decade ago.

And though the champion is a heavy favorite, familiarity is Garcia’s best weapon heading into their fight on the Golden Boy Promotions card that will be shown on PPV.COM with Jim Lampley and friends. DAZN pay-per-view is also streaming the card.

In many ways Haney and Garcia have ventured down the same path. From amateur sensations to fighting in Mexico while teens to asking for the biggest challenges available.

“Whichever version of Ryan shows up on April 20, I will be ready for him. Ryan Garcia is just another opponent to me,” said Haney who holds the WBC super lightweight title after his win over Regis Prograis.

The first time I saw Haney as a pro he battled the dangerous Mexican contender Juan Carlos Burgos at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula. It was an impressive performance against a fighter who fought three times for a world title.

Haney was 19 at the time.

My first look at Garcia as a pro was in his first bout in the U.S. when he met Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Cruz at the Exchange in downtown Los Angeles. The Boricua looked at Garcia and tried intimidating him with stares, taunts and the usual patter. During the fight both swung and missed until the second round when Garcia zeroed in and took him out.

Garcia had just turned 18, the legal age to fight in California.

Both fighters did not have the Olympics credentials that lead to fame. But their talent has allowed them to fight through the dense smoke that is professional boxing.

Haney has defeated numerous world champions such as Prograis, Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos Jr., while Garcia has stopped champions Javier Fortuna and Luke Campbell.

As amateurs, Garcia and Haney battled six times with each winning three.

“They know each other very well,” said Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions. “Ryan is going to beat Devin Haney.”

Haney has a buttery-smooth style with one of the best jabs in boxing. He’s very adept at keeping distance and not allowing anyone to fight him inside. His reflexes are outstanding, yet he seldom fights inside. That’s his weakness.

Garcia fights tall and has superb hand speed and a lightning quick left hook. Though his defense lacks tightness his ability to rip off three-punch combinations in a blink of an eye pauses opponents from bullying their way inside.

“These guys always just look at me and look at me like I don’t know how to box,” said Garcia on social media. “Why was I one of the best fighters in the amateurs. Why was I a 15-time National champion…why did I beat everyone I came across.”

Haney is a strong favorite by oddsmakers to defeat Garcia. But you can never tell when it comes to fighters that know each other well and are athletically gifted.

When Sergio Mora challenged Vernon Forrest he was a big underdog. When Tim Bradley fought Manny Pacquiao the first time, he was also the underdog. And when Andy Ruiz met Anthony Joshua few gave him a chance.

Haney and Garcia have history in the ring. It should be an interesting battle.

PPV.COM

Jim Lampley will be leading the broadcast on PPV.COM for the Haney-Garcia card at Barclays and texting with fans on the card live. He will be accompanied by journalists Lance Pugmire, Dan Conobbio and former champion Chris Algieri.

The PPV.COM broadcast begins at 5 p.m. PT. and is available in Canada and the USA.

Other News

MMA stars Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal will be holding a media day event on Friday, April 19, at NOVO at L.A. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Diaz and Masvidal will be boxing against each other in a grudge match on June 1 at the KIA Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The two MMA stars met five years at UFC 244 with Masvidal winning by TKO over Diaz due to cuts.

This is a grudge match, but under boxing rules.

Fight card in Commerce, Calif.

360 Promotions returns to Commerce Casino on Saturday April 20 with undefeated super lightweight Cain Sandoval leading the charge.

Sandoval (12-0) faces Angel Rebollar (8-3) in the main event that will be shown live on UFC Fight Pass. Also on the card are two female events including hot prospect Lupe Medina (5-0) versus Sabrina Persona (3-1) in a minimumweight clash.

Doors open at 4 p.m.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Heavyweight Merry-Go-Round

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Heavyweight Merry-Go-Round

There were few surprises when co-promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren and their benefactor HE Turki Alalshikh held a press conference in London this past Monday to unveil the undercard for the Beterbiev-Bivol show at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on June 1. Most of the match-ups had already been leaked.

For die-hard boxing fans, Beterbiev-Bivol is such an enticing fight that it really doesn’t need an attractive undercard. Two undefeated light heavyweights will meet with all four relevant belts on the line in a contest where the oddsmakers straddled the fence. It’s a genuine “pick-‘em” fight based on the only barometer that matters, the prevailing odds.

But Beterbiev-Bivol has been noosed to a splendid undercard, a striking contrast to Saturday’s Haney-Garcia $69.99 (U.S.) pay-per-view in Brooklyn, an event where the undercard, in the words of pseudonymous boxing writer Chris Williams, is an absolute dumpster fire.

The two heavyweight fights that will bleed into Beterbiev-Bivol, Hrgovic vs. Dubois and Wilder vs. Zhang, would have been stand-alone main events before the incursion of Saudi money.

Hrgovic-Dubois

Filip Hrgovic (17-0, 13 KOs) and Daniel Dubois (20-2, 19 KOs) fought on the same card in Riyadh this past December. Hrgovic, the Croatian, was fed a softie in the form of Australia’s Mark De Mori who he dismissed in the opening round. Dubois, a Londoner, rebounded from his loss to Oleksandr Usyk with a 10th-round stoppage of corpulent Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller.

There’s an outside chance that Hrgovic vs. Dubois may be sanctioned by the IBF for the world heavyweight title.

The May 18 showdown between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury has a rematch clause. The IBF is next in line in the rotation system for a unified heavyweight champion and the organization has made it plain that the winner of Usyk-Fury must fulfill his IBF mandatory before an intervening bout.

The best guess is that the Usyk-Fury winner will relinquish the IBF belt. If so, Hrgovic and Dubois may fight for the vacant title although a more likely scenario is that the organization will keep the title vacant so that the winner can fight Anthony Joshua.

Wilder-Zhang

The match between Deontay Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KOs) and Zhilei Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) is a true crossroads fight as both Wilder, 38, and Zhang, who turns 41 in May, are nearing the end of the road and the loser (unless it’s a close and entertaining fight) will be relegated to the rank of a has-been. In fact, Wilder has hinted that this may be his final rodeo.

Both are coming off a loss to Joseph Parker.

Wilder last fought on the card that included Hrgovic and Dubois and was roundly out-pointed by a man he was expected to beat. It’s a quick turnaround for Zhang who opposed Parker on March 8 and lost a majority decision.

Other Fights

Either of two other fights may steal the show on the June 1 event.

Raymond Ford (15-0-1, 8 KOs) meets Nick Ball (19-0-1, 11 KOs) in a 12-round featherweight contest. New Jersey’s Ford will be defending the WBA world title he won with a come-from-behind, 12th-round stoppage of Otabek Kholmatov in an early contender for Fight of the Year. Liverpool’s “Wrecking” Ball, a relentless five-foot-two sparkplug, had to settle for a draw in his title fight with Rey Vargas despite winning the late rounds and scoring two knockdowns.

Hamzah Sheeraz (19-0, 15 KOs) meets fellow unbeaten Austin “Ammo” Williams (16-0, 11 KOs) in a 12-round middleweight match. East London’s Sheeraz, the son of a former professional cricket player, is unknown in the U.S. although he trained for his recent fights at the Ten Goose Boxing Gym in California. Riding a skein of 13 straight knockouts, he has a date with WBO title-holder Janibek Alimkhanuly if he can get over this hurdle.

The Forgotten Heavyweight

“Unbeaten for seven years, the man nobody wants to fight,” intoned ring announcer Michael Buffer by way of introduction. Buffer was referencing Michael Hunter who stood across the ring from his opponent Artem Suslenkov.

This scene played out this past Saturday in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It was Hunter’s second fight in three weeks. On March 23, he scored a fifth-round stoppage of a 46-year-old meatball at a show in Zapopan, Mexico.

The second-generation “Bounty Hunter,” whose only defeat prior to last weekend came in a 12-rounder with Oleksandr Usyk, has been spinning his wheels since TKOing the otherwise undefeated Martin Bakole on the road in London in 2018. Two fights against hapless opponents on low-budget cards in Mexico and a couple of one-round bouts for the Las Vegas Hustle, an entry in the fledgling and largely invisible Professional Combat League, are the sum total of his activity, aside from sparring, in the last two-and-a-half years.

Hunter’s chances of getting another big-money fight took a tumble in Tashkent where he lost a unanimous decision in a dull affair to the unexceptional Suslenkov who was appearing in his first 10-round fight. The scores of the judges were not announced.

You won’t find this fight listed on boxrec. As Jake Donovan notes, the popular website will not recognize a fight conducted under the auspices of a rogue commission. (Another fight you won’t find on boxrec for the same reason is Nico Ali Walsh’s 6-round split decision over the 9-2-1 Frenchman, Noel Lafargue, in the African nation of Guinea on Dec. 16, 2023. You can find it on YouTube, but according to boxrec, boxing’s official record-keeper, it never happened.)

Anderson-Merhy Redux

The only thing missing from this past Saturday’s match in Corpus Christi, Texas, between Jared Anderson and Ryad Merhy was the ghost of Robert Valsberg.

Valsberg, aka Roger Vaisburg, was the French referee who disqualified Ingemar Johansson for not trying in his match with LA’s Ed Sanders in the finals of the heavyweight competition at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Valsberg tossed Johansson out of the ring after two rounds and Johansson was denied the silver medal. The Swede redeemed himself after turning pro, needless to say, when he demolished Floyd Patterson in the first of their three meetings.

Merhy was credited with throwing only 144 punches, landing 34, over the course of the 10 rounds. Those dismal figures yet struck many onlookers as too high. (This reporter has always insisted that the widely-quoted CompuBox numbers should be considered approximations.)

Whatever the true number, it was a disgraceful performance by Merhy who actually showed himself to have very fast hands on the few occasions when he did throw a punch. With apologies to Delfine Persoon, a spunky lightweight, U.S. boxing promoters should think twice before inviting another Belgian boxer to our shores.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 278: Clashes of Spring in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and LA

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