By Ivan G. Goldman
The WBC has “suspended” Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. for testing positive for marijuana. Trouble is, the WBC doesn’t have the power to suspend anybody. Meanwhile, the money-grubbing alphabet gang, sensing an opportunity to scoop up more undeserved loot, “fined” Chavez $20,000. This is about as meaningful (and enforceable) as a fine leveled by Pee-Wee Herman.
First of all, Chavez shouldn’t be fined or suspended by anybody. Weed is not a performance-enhancing drug. In fact, it’s a performance-depleting drug, as is alcohol. When commissions and other athletic entities fine fighters for marijuana, what they’re doing is trying to enforce morality. They’re saying they don’t like the cut of the fighter’s jib. Well, ring performance may fall under their jurisdiction. But somebody’s jib? Whatever a jib is, how you cut it is clearly your own business.
Meanwhile, you can bet that if Chavez doesn’t pony up the 20K, the extortionist WBC will refuse to rank him anymore. This is akin to Pee-Wee Herman swooping in and saying he will remove your driving privileges if you don’t fork over $20,000. Pee-Wee, like the WBC, has no power to fine you or to govern your privileges. I don’t mean to pick on poor Pee-Wee, since I expect that like most of us, he doesn’t have delusions of grandeur. The WBC, on the other hand, ruled by its irrepressible Big Kahuna Jose Sulaiman, does.
And I expect Chavez will pay up. Why? Because in Mexico the WBC has more clout than some of its state governors. Mexican fans revere those green WBC belts above all others. Sergio Martinez, who won Chavez’s title when he defeated him Sept. 15, is 37. Even if the WBC doesn’t steal it off him again, as it did once, he can’t hang on to it forever. Eventually Sulaiman, if Chavez plays ball, will be able to arrange another blue-plate special just for him, as when Sulaiman delivered Sebastian Zbik on a plate to Chavez last year and then proclaimed him champion. This came after Sulaiman lifted the title off Martinez for disobedience.
Interestingly, Chavez Junior is Sulaiman’s godson. So why did he suspend and fine him? As another godfather used to say, it’s not personal. It’s just business. The suspension is “indefinite,” to last until Junior completes a term in drug rehab. Sulaiman is probably sincerely fond of Chavez, 26. He also took him to task for reportedly gambling away much of his purse money in casinos.
Allow me to point out that I’m not a pro-drug crusader. A lot of the marijuana out there these days is extremely potent, serious stuff and no joke. I just happen to think that smoking weed is a victimless crime the government should stay out of unless minors are involved.
Chavez’s positive test for marijuana, combined with the fact that trainer Freddie Roach often had to track him down at home to get him to train for the Martinez contest, tells us quite a bit about the strength of the kid’s determination. It’s just not there. If he’d trained properly for that fight, who knows what might have happened? Chavez has thunder in both hands, and, like his dad, a hard head. Also, when he couldn’t get anything done against Martinez (until the twelfth round) Chavez didn’t run or clinch. He just took the beating, which was severe. The man’s got huevos. But fans who bet money on him might not be so forgiving. For his part, Chavez apologized and pledged to rededicate himself to the sport.
Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada commission, reportedly said that a hearing concerning Chavez’s positive test will probably be scheduled sometime this month. Yet the Nevada commission, which has given us so many curious decisions and placed awful officials in charge of big events over and over, year after year, has to be one of the least qualified entities to judge morality in North America. Remember when NFL fans went berserk over games ruined by temp officials? They got just a small taste of what boxing fans have had to put up with for years.
Ivan G. Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel The Barfighter is set in the world of boxing. Information HERE