By Ivan G. Goldman
In a fair world no one would even discuss whether Manny Pacquiao is or is not on performance-enhancing drugs. That’s because there’s never been a hint of evidence that it’s true — only the accusations that originated with Floyd Mayweather and his camp followers. No witness, no medical evidence, nothing like that. But there is a pledge from Pacquiao that he will go the extra mile on testing if Floyd will sign to fight him.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
Yet the PEDs issue is being widely discussed in advance of Pacquiao’s date with tough Timothy Bradley this Saturday night. So how much have the accusations from Mayweather and his people hurt Pacquiao’s reputation? Plenty.
I never heard any hints of suspicion before the Mayweather squad started spreading the word. First Floyd and Company said nobody goes from light flyweight to welterweight. Of course that’s exactly what Mayweather did. He, like Pacquiao, was a light flyweight at age 16, but in the amateurs.
The thing about the Mayweathers is, they know plenty about the sport. If anyone knows more, I’m not sure who it is. You might not follow their stock tips or automatically accept their opinions on climate change. But when they tell you something about boxing, you’d be a fool not to at least listen. So their indictment against Pacquiao gets a widespread hearing. And Floyd, even though he’s being sued for slander, still repeats it once in awhile, as he did lately when he claimed Pacquiao’s head is bigger than it used to be and that therefore Mayweather shouldn’t risk his health competing against a chemically-concocted prizefighter.
These days I hear the Pacquiao-and-PEDs accusation all the time. It’s circulated throughout gyms, chat rooms, Internet social networks, all that. In fact, now it’s nearly impossible to discuss Pacquiao with other boxing aficionados without the PEDs charge coming up. Mayweather fans almost always believe it, but even some Pacquiao fans have been infected by the gossip virus — gossip based on nothing. It’s the standard “When did you stop beating your wife?” question. Once you answer, you raise more suspicion. Refuse to answer and you still raise suspicion.
People get a kick out of believing the worst, and weak minds get an especially huge kick out of conspiracy theories. Oliver Stone made a film in 1991 called JFK that contended President Kennedy was assassinated by Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and a secret bunch of tycoons, all aided after the fact by the Warren Commission. He portrayed a loony prosecutor in New Orleans as a brilliant hero who’d gotten to the bottom of it all. The movie prosecutor made a thundering closing argument. The real prosecutor made no closing argument and had earlier been kicked out of the Army on a section 8. Stone skipped over the fact that Lee Oswald murdered a cop during his getaway, that his prints were on the rifle he left in the book depository, that the rifle, undeniably his, was the one that killed Kennedy, and that if hundreds and hundreds of people committed a crime together, some of them would blab about it later.
And 21 years later millions of people accept Stone’s pile of crap as history and it’s still shown on TV (When he was backed against the wall by the facts Stone said later he wasn’t trying to write history, just to tell an interesting story).
Mayweather’s accusations have the same kind of staying power except they’re also buttressed by his reputation for fight knowledge. Stone was never known as a history expert. Only a few days ago some creep who lost a fight that had nothing to do with Pacquiao declared during a disjointed, recorded ramble that Pacquiao was on PEDs.
Mayweather has already planted the seed that if Pacquiao does well against Bradley it’s because he’s using PEDs and if he does poorly it’s because he stopped taking them. A lose-lose proposition. If he lets it get under his skin a little devil will whisper to him, “Why even try? You’re screwed anyway.”
Mayweather has a better chance to beat Pacquiao than anyone else, but if he can’t get a solid edge, he doesn’t accept the opponent. That’s his history. Inventing and perpetuating this story because he fears Pacquiao is a ploy that’s cowardly, disgusting, and terribly damaging. It’s the damaging part that’s going to cost him.
Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE