Tuesday, November 25, 2014

PED's Accusations & The Leonard/Hearns II Lead-up: BGB Throwback Article Spotlight

Click here to read: Hearns Angers Leonard, Steroid Accusations No Laughing Matter

During the lead-up coverage of Sugar Ray Leonard's rematch with Tommy Hearns, in June of 1989, in an article by Bernard Fernandez, quotes like these remind us of the now lengthy history of PED's working its way into publicity for big boxing contests:

"Monday night's scheduled 12-rounder between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, which is likely to become the highest- grossing prizefight of all time, is now a running gag about the possible use of anabolic steroids by Leonard."
 ~Bernard Fernandez

"I take it personal. . . It's so ludicrous. It's a slap in the face to me and to boxing. We have enough criticism of this sport."
~Sugar Ray Leonard

"We would like for (Leonard) to take a physical before and after the fight. We've been hearing too much that Ray's been taking steroids. I can't give you the source, but we've heard it before we got out here."
~Emanuel Steward

"I was on the promotional tour with Ray and he wasn't all pumped up. It seemed like it happened overnight."
~Tommy Hearns

"Without a basis (for conducting such a test), it is disrespect to such a great champion as Sugar Ray Leonard,"
 ~Jose Sulaiman (then WBC president)

It seems so recent in boxing that PED accusation is part of "trash talking" and pre-fight negotiation gamesmanship, if not for truly genuine concern. In recent years, I've heard Floyd Mayweather Junior repeat "Take the test." to Manny Pacquiao (through media), as well as Jean Pascal, rather directly, at his ancient tormentor, Bernard Hopkins. I've also heard Alexander Povetkin and Kubrat Pulev both goading Wladimir Klitschko about it, all casting doubt on the validity of their propspective opponents, and in each mentioned case of the fight happening (all but Mayweather VS Pacquiao), what happened to be their conquerors. Of course, these are cases where tests do get taken, just not the tests the opponent has desired, and/or the way they desire them, and/or from who they desire to administer them. It's a giant, and exasperating trap for boxing fans. In a way, no one is ever above reproach on this topic, simply because there are no requirements for any form of suspicion and there is no way to eliminate all forms of suspicion with something like this, no matter what tests you take. It doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but it does mean if you want to cast doubt on someone, anyone, it's always an available option. It doesn't matter if you have proof. It doesn't matter if you have evidence. It doesn't matter if you're doing it because you believe it or because you are preparing an excuse for a future loss, or are already a sore loser.

All testing may be insufficient. All testing may be wrong. All testing may fail where a cheater succeeds or, hey, where an innocent athlete is found guilty. Hey, maybe the person doing the testing is wrong! All the testing has experts trying to figure out how to cheat them. No testing is a guarantee you've got any kind of level playing field. All of the world of true sport (i.e., not poker) seems to have some degree of PED paranoia or frustration about testing inadequacy, and boxing, being influenced by many different outlooks from its fighters, athletic commissions and sanctioning bodies has been developing quite a high degree of PED paranoia and testing dissatisfaction for some time now. It did not start with Money and Pac Man, of course. Nor will it end with Doctor Zerokiller and The Bulgarian Cobra. Not to mention, this complex and broad-ranging of a subject is far beyond the average layperson's fundamental knowledge, just as it was in 1989, if not much more so, as it stands now. I see that worsening as time goes by, not that your average fan wants to admit ignorance to something they'd love to understand, which plays such a large part in their sport. It's like having someone living in your house and you don't really know who they are or where they come from or what they're doing. It might even be easier to pretend they aren't there, if you can. 

Boxing fans seem to have three main groups that make up the overwhelming majority of this issue, from my observation. There are the vehement deniers or the rabid accusers that certain fighters are on what is vaguely under the PED's umbrella, or banned substances list, less vaguely, most seemingly arguing out of false certainty, and then, thirdly, those that realistically admit they have little idea what is going on either way. The deniers and accusers seem well in the lead, ahead of group number three, to my reckoning. Maybe the admitted ignorance group is larger than I think, and their silence has fooled me. I commend their restraint, whether they're much fewer or greater in number than I've noted. In any case, it's a strange feeling to look back on 1989, with two legends going into a giant fight, bickering over PED's accusations. All these years later and it seemed to be a major enough sticking point between our pound-for-pound icons that they went to court over it and still didn't fight. Also, noting that Wladimir Klitschko's camp, much like Pacquiao's, decided to take Kubrat Pulev to court, I'm seeing in the headlines today. Ah, 1989. My, how you've grown.

Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing

Thanks for stopping by our place. Here are some other pages you might enjoy:

Shannon Briggs: Making You Racist Since 2006 - BGB Throwback Article Spotlight
Yuriorkis Gamboa VS Manny Pacquiao: BGB Throwback Article Spotlight
Ray Leonard Gets Chummy Behind Tommy Hearns: GIF Spotlight

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