By Ivan G. Goldman
Max Kellerman didn’t truly assess Juan Manuel Marquez’s hard-fought victory over Mike Alvarado until the HBO cameras were turned off. “I’m always highly cynical when I see a guy who gets faster when he gets older,” he said.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
“There’s always that cloud of suspicion with a modern athlete who performs well and maybe differently as he gets to an advanced athletic age. That has certainly followed Marquez in recent years, particularly after the (fourth Manny) Pacquiao fight,” a contest Marquez won with a paralyzing knockout shot in the sixth round.
Kellerman made his remarks when he was interviewed on camera by Radio Raheem Saturday while fans cleared out after the fight at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Marquez, 40, is bigger and stronger, and his punches are at least as precise as they were when I used to watch him perform in his early twenties at the same venue.
If you looked closely at his muscular torso Saturday, you could see it was spotted with acne that struck him in middle age. Acne, which could occur naturally, can be a sign of steroid abuse.
We can’t know for sure why Kellerman waited until the HBO cameras were turned off before he made these remarks. He night not know himself. But the object of his suspicions was lining himself up for the possibility of another big HBO pay-per-view outing against Pacquiao.
Max spoke at the end of a hard night, when many of us are prone to let our hair down, when hard truths and nagging questions spill forth as though they have a will of their own. The interview was on youtube.com.
The pre-fight reality programming on HBO for Pacquiao-Marquez 4 in December 2012 showed Marquez doing squats with weights that looked the size of Volkswagens. Lots of men in their late thirties can lift such weights, but they don’t all report the next day for roadwork and a full sequence of intensive training worthy of a world-class prizefighter.
Marquez’s record against Pacquiao is 1-2-1. Each contest was controversial in some way. The first one, fought ten years ago in the featherweight division, ended in a draw because one judge, Burt Clements, admitted later he scored the first round 10-7 because he didn’t know he could score it 10-6 . Pacquiao knocked Marquez down three times in the round. Had Clements scored it correctly the outcome would have been a split decision for Pacquiao that might not have triggered a series.
Many boxing trainers believe that under normal conditions, when a fighter pumps himself up with heavy weights, he’ll lose both conditioning and speed in exchange for strength and bulk. But on Saturday Marquez’s punches snapped with precision as he worked up and down against valiant Alvarado, 33. Marquez seemed to get stronger as the fight went on.
It was before that last Pacquiao contest that Marquez began working with strength and conditioning coach Angel “Memo” Heredia, who began using an alias after testifying in numerous PEDs cases as a prosecution witness. Prosecutors let him walk away after he ratted out former associates, including Victor Conte. Heredia repeatedly admitted under oath that he supplied PEDs to numerous athletes in track and field and other sports and that he specialized in figuring out how to beat testing for PEDs.
Conte, who served less than a year for his crimes, is, like Heredia, back in business, but they are definitely not pals. Both say they now work clean.
After Marquez weighed in for Alvarado, Conte tweeted, “Wonder if we may start 2 see betting odds suddenly change b4 future fights based upon pimples observed on a boxer at the weigh-in?”
Heredia gravitated more heavily into boxing after his PEDs reputation made him a marked man. Boxing, unlike team sports, has no league that can impose discipline against individual athletes. But Heredia’s reputation works two ways because none of the athletes he helped pump up with banned chemicals ever tested positive.
The California athletic commission, which supervised the bout on Saturday, has caught numerous athletes, mostly cage fighters, with illegal substances in their systems and handed out suspensions and fines. Still, the commission tests fall well below rigid standards imposed by VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association), the entity formed by Dr. Margaret Goodman, a former ring physician for the Nevada commission. Those tests cost thousands of dollars.
Marquez, asked why he’s looked better in recent performances than he did some 15 years ago, has indignantly denied any impropriety, pointed out that he tests clean, and threatened to sue accusers. Kellerman would no doubt agree that Marquez acted as an innocent man would.
` Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.