Dick Young the late and great New York sports scribe used to always write: “What’s going on here?” And if he were around today a review of the Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal press tour in Montreal and New York would certainly be back page headlines.
They fought back on December 18 in Pascal’s backyard of Montreal Canada. According to Hopkins it was a close 12-round contest, a decision he believes that should have been his, but the judges called it a draw. Hopkins, the 46-year old two-division champion petitioned for a return bout set for May 21st at the Bell Centre in Montreal Canada for the WBC and Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight championship held by Pascal.
But instead of getting serious about a fight that has minimal interest, unless you consider Hopkins a legend, there was an unexpected steroid allegation leveled at Hopkins from the mouth of Pascal. That happened up in Montreal Monday which resulted in fireworks at the podium.
Round two, in New York City, at Plant Hollywood in Times Square Tuesday afternoon was a different story. It was back to basics and Pascal ate his words by retracting his comments. So who do you believe? Is Hopkins classified in the same book as Sugar Shane Mosley, Evander Holyfield and others about fighters allegedly using body enhancement performing drugs?
There is no definite answer, no proof about the allegations that took everyone by surprise. Hopkins, as much as we sometimes can’t tolerate his mouth, is a talented fighter that continues to get better with age. In that first fight with Pascal it appeared he got stronger in the later rounds and some would say he should have been victorious.
But to put steroids into the picture, even as Barry Bonds stands trial in a much more highly and anticipated story, is a farce. The sport needs positive press and momentum for good fights. This can be a good fight and for sure HBO Championship Boxing will make the steroid issue a subject.
How ironic, it is Hopkins being accused. He has some financial interests with Golden Boy Promotions the same company that mediated on behalf of Floyd Maywather Jr. in attempts to put him in the ring with Manny Pacquiao.
How can we forget that Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy insisted that Pacquiao undergo a procedure of Olympic style drug testing that caused a stir and Bob Arum of Top Rank, Pacquiao’s promoter resisted. That in turn put an end to what have been possibly the highest grossed fight in boxing history.
Photo: Pablo Santiago
“I don’t have a lot to say about what happened yesterday,” said Pascal on Tuesday regarding the allegations he made about Hopkins the day before. Maybe it was all boxing theatre for their promotion, however the comments were not good for the sport.
Pascal would retract more saying, “I never said he took something. I asked a separate question and he didn’t want to respond. May 21 you better be on something because I’m gonna bust your ass.” Now if Pascal was offering an apology so that we could go back to the basics well that was a funny way of putting it.
Hopkins really has nothing left to prove. As he says, “I know what a move like this means to legacy and going forward. It is just another motivation to start over to build my career but a different motivation as I am older now too. For the last fight I was 45. I am now 46 and am trying to break George Foreman’s record, a record he set when he beat Michael Moore for the heavyweight championship of the world.”
That being of course, Foreman becoming the oldest fighter on record to win a major title and Hopkins alludes to this fight not being about money. But at no point did he vouch to take a steroid test. That alone may have been a good move because we can move forward and hope the issue does not resurface in the weeks ahead before the fight.
Steroid accusations will come and go. And indeed if body enhancement drugs were an issue in the sport there would be a call for a Congressional investigation. Unfortunately the sport does not have a national boxing commission like other major sports that have a major ruling body. The local state athletic commissions and governing bodies apparently don’t have the knowledge or financing to implement a strict testing system for steroids.
So Pascal can go back to the basics. And Hopkins can go about his business to continue his legacy. This is a fight that will now draw more interest. Why? Steroids now became an issue.