by Boxing Insider News
In case anyone was wondering about the kind of drug testing protocols might be in place for the next Manny Pacquiao fight, the China Professional Boxing Organization (CPBO) does not necessarily have comprehensive rules on the books that would govern such activity, but those who think Pacquiao shifted the site of the November 24 bout Brandon Rios to Macau in order to seek more leniency along those lines had better think again.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
That is because Pacquiao has recently announced that he had requested random blood and urine testing take place on the part of the Rios side, and it has been agreed to, so the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) will carry out directives designed to affect a “clean” fight.
VADA was not on hand to do the testing for Pacquiao’s last fight, which was a fifth-round knockout loss at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, who looked like a more muscular version of the fighter he had been in any previous bout, at age 39 no less. Marquez had been working with Angel Heredia (aka Angel Hernandez), who was one of the steroid peddlers who was arrested in connection with the notorious BALCO case, avoiding prosecution only when he agreed to turn state’s evidence against track coach Trevor Graham, who operated Sprint Capitol USA, a team that included many athletes who had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Even before the knockout loss Pacquiao’s camp, most specifically Freddie Roach, made the outright accusation that Marquez was using steroids. Roach was quoted in a USA Today story as saying, “If his (Marquez’s) body is natural, I will kiss his ass.” Alex Ariza, who was Pacquiao’s conditioning coach, did not share the same suspicions, as he was a friend and colleague of Heredia / Hernandez. In fact, if anything he was concerned that Marquez was now taking advantage of some of the same advanced science and training techniques as his man, and those particular concerns turned out to be well-founded, as Pacquiao essentially went out with one well-timed punch.
Now Heredeia / Hernandez is in the Brandon Rios camp as well, working with the brawler prior to his last fight against Mike Alvarado. Rios had been a lightweight as recently as April of last year, when he defeated Richard Abril. At this point Rios is about to make the leap to the welterweight division, and that requires additional strength as well as speed, and these are things that were emphasized by Marquez even prior to the Pacquiao as attributes that Heredia / Hernandez was helping to enhance.
When he was voicing his suspicions about Marquez, Roach pointed out that “I’ve been accused so many times of my fighters being on steroids (that) I hate to accuse other people. But it is part of our life, part of the world we live in.” It certainly is. Many have suspected Pacquiao of “juicing up” through the years, inasmuch as his professional career started at 105 pounds and he has won recognized world titles all the way up to the 154-pound level.
Generally, rapid ascension through weight classes, accompanied by the simultaneous retention of speed and punching power, has been a red flag for those who suspect boxers of being the beneficiaries of artificial assistance. Now, over these last couple of fights, Pacquiao has not necessarily been the man moving up in weight but the target of challengers who have sought to do that. Rios falls into that category, as someone who is now attempting to punch above his weight class, if you will; thus a certain amount of paranoia might naturally set in.
Readers may recall that random drug testing was cited as one of the reasons for the impasse between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in the well-publicized negotiations toward making that fight happen. Pacquiao’s concern was that tests that happens too close to fight time might have a negative effect on him. But Bob Arum, the promoter of the Pacquiao-Rios fight, has been quoted as saying that “it (the testing) has to be done in a way that is compatible with the fighters’ training,” so all indications are that whatever tests are conducted by VADA, they are not going to be very intrusive from the standpoint of timing.