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Ring Magazine – Golden Boy “Drug Policy” Just More Conflict of Interest

Posted on 07/16/2012

by Charles Jay

“The recent spate of failed drug tests has underscored an obvious – and troubling – problem in boxing.

Thus, THE RING Editorial Board decided it was time to make a strong statement: From now on, any fighter who tests positive for a banned substance will immediately be removed from THE RING Ratings.”

That was the statement that allowed the fight between Amir Khan, a fighter under contract by Golden Boy Promotions, and Danny Garcia, a fighter under contract with Golden Boy Promotions, to compete for the Ring Magazine junior welterweight title, which is owned by – you guessed it – Golden Boy Promotions.

Word came down from the “editorial board” of Ring, through the editor, Michael Rosenthal, that suddenly, all the fighters with positive tests were going to be ripped from the ratings, with adjustments made immediately. And so that is how the champion who won it in the ring is completely out, and the title is declared vacant, with the pairing of Khan and Garcia.

This would all be perfectly reasonable, except for the fact that the announcement, at least according to the story on the Ring website, came on July 10. That’s just in time for them to “sanction” a bout between two fighters the Ring/Golden Boy company controls.

It’s suspicious, of course, especially as a positive test from Peterson was by no means a genuine revelation. In fact, it was around May 10, wasn’t it, when it was revealed, at least to the Golden Boy brass, that Peterson had a positive test on file with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA)? Is there any particular reason they did not take action at that time?

Maybe it’s because they were waiting for an excuse from the WBA. If Ring/Golden Boy did something like “strip” Peterson ahead of anyone else, for the benefit of the two fighters they control, it would look like a blatant conflict of interest. So let’s entertain the possibility they got tipped off about what the WBA was going to do (Golden Boy is paying considerable sanctioning fees to make Garcia-Khan a “unification”) and simply made believe they were “taking the lead,” while at the same time having some plausible deniability that they weren’t taking an action that was TOO self-serving (Ring originally reported that the WBA title would be vacated, by the way).

It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that if Golden Boy hadn’t gotten the title back from the WBA, it would have taken the “if all else fails” approach, ordering Ring to vacate the junior welterweight crown so that they could win it by default by controlling each of the combatants, as Garcia, with few notable wins, had been maneuvered into a #3 position prior to Golden Boy’s actions.

But the WBA was going to be giving Khan the title back, so while Ring/Golden Boy is still engaged in a conflict of interest, people who don’t know any better might not think much about it.

While Peterson is “stripped,” there is another part of the “policy” that states: “A fighter whose “A” sample tested positive and is awaiting the results of his “B” sample will not be allowed to fight for a championship or rise in the ratings.”

So if you tested positive and you are contesting the “B” result, you’re still in the ratings. And that’s how Antonio Tarver, who fought “dirty” headlining a Golden Boy promotion just last month, gets to stay in the Ring/Golden Boy ratings, despite a one-year suspension in California. He’s appealing, but Peterson hasn’t even had his “day in court.”

You may think this is all facetious, but it really is not, when you think about it. Yes, Peterson had submitted to drug testing – in fact, he had even suggested it – with VADA, and in became part of the contractual agreement. It was violated. But it was a Golden Boy violation more than it was a Nevada violation, at least at the moment. In fact, Golden Boy is the entity that called a halt to the fight, because the hearing Peterson was looking for was going to be scheduled too close to the May 19 fight taking place.

So Golden Boy canceled, and in effect, they facilitated the “stripping” of the title by its wholly-owned entity (Ring), which seems to carry some weight with HBO, before Peterson has even had an opportunity to present his own case before the Nevada commission. He and his people maintain their position, even though, in a nutshell, they were not correct in the way they went about their procedure. That isn’t just as valid a reason for a “stay of execution” as requesting an analysis of a “B” sample? Remember that Peterson is not even suspended by Nevada; he is just, at the moment, not licensed, and he has to present his case as to why he should be. We’re not saying that he is innocent, mind you (he admitted taking synthetic testosterone before the Khan fight), but at the same time it is not yet a “conviction” that would justify swiping the guy’s title away and literally handing to someone else, is it?

Well, it’s more than enough if you simply want to hand the title to yourself, which is what Golden Boy is doing here. They have, in fact, engineered almost every step in the process. All of this would be meaningless, except for the fact that there are actually media outlets, like HBO and ESPN, who ascribe credibility to the chicanery that characterizes the Ring/Golden Boy ratings. And that convinces those in the public who are not so discerning that they are, in fact, non-biased.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone very much that an employee is coming forward with a statement about editorial or ratings “policy” that would facilitate the agenda of the owners of a particular company. That is what employees get paid to do.

What IS bothersome, however, is that this is someone who belongs to a profession that might prioritize guarding the public interest once in a while. And he talks for himself and others about an “obvious – and troubling – problem in boxing,” participating, without an understanding, or perhaps even any particular concern, in an ongoing and massive conflict that is taking place in the Ring/Golden Boy setup; one that is unquestionably contrary to the best interests of boxing.

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