Performance-Enhancing Drugs: The Conversation Boxing Loves to Avoid

Long-time members of the site may know Eddie Gonzalez by his old username, thebitb. Today he joins the Bad Left Hook staff, and will be doing a weekly column.

Once again, performance-enhancing drugs (namely steroids) are in the boxing conversation today as Bob Arum addressed steroid concerns yesterday in during a Manny Pacquiao conference call. This isn't new, as steroids come up often nowadays.

Whenever Victor Conte is mentioned. Or Shane Mosley, or James Toney. Or whenever Floyd Mayweather talks about Manny Pacquiao "taking the test." As always, it was kind of brushed over and we moved along.

Should we move along? Shouldn't we care more about PEDs being in the sport we love and follow endlessly? 

PEDs are always a touchy subject and opinions vary. Some think their guy could NEVER be on them, some think EVERYONE is on them. Me? I don't know. But none would surprise me. The theoretical story of someone trusted by a fighter one day telling them "Hey, I got this stuff, called HGH. It will make you bigger, stronger, faster, give you more stamina and make recovery time shorter. Oh, and it can't be detected with a pee test (or most blood tests for that matter). You want some?" is an offer some guys can't refuse.

For me the biggest story to come out of the PEDs in baseball mess wasn't that they were being used, it was WHO using them. Sure, there were the hulking sluggers, and the career year guys, but there was also middle relievers, finesse pitchers, minor leaguers trying to hold on to a job, small middle infielders trying to turn a few singles into doubles. Guys in all shapes sizes and backgrounds were outed as users. Moral of the story is, nobody should be without suspicion. 

James Toney isn't exactly the image you think of for a hulking steroid user. Shane Mosley kinda was. Point is, you never really know. 

If America, and the sporting media cared about boxing like they cared about baseball in the 90's and early 2000's maybe it would result in a sort of witch hunt that baseball saw. A guy like Andre Berto, who earlier in his career was a little softer and chubby, then became affiliated with the aforementioned Conte, and now looks a little different (even though his stamina issues are still seemingly there), would maybe cause some eyebrows to raise. Instead, he is the guy dishing out steroid claims. 

Of course the most famous steroid claim in boxing is Floyd Mayweather crying "steroids" toward Manny Pacquiao, and allegations being fueled by Olympic-style drug testing seemingly being the reason that a fight between the two has never been signed. As for Manny, my opinion is the same as it is with everybody else, I give him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn't use PEDs, but I don't put it past him. I would say the same about Mayweather, or any other fighter. We just CAN'T know. The testing is dated, and beating a pee test has become so easy it becomes laughable when a guy actually fails. 

Do steroids and PED allegations hurt the sport? Doesn't seem like it. Does Angel "Memo" Heredia or Victor Conte's presence hurt the sport? Nope (I think it can be argued that he isn't making that big of a splash either. Berto still struggles with stamina, and Noninto Donaire didn't look like the world beater we have all expected him to be 2 weeks ago). Would a major steroid scandal be a black eye to the sport, just like it was to baseball? Sure, but just like baseball it will come and go and things will go back to the way they were before. The Mosley/Balco scandal was as big as it can get. The former pound for pound king admitting he used PEDs in preparation for his biggest and most famous fight is as big as it can get. And Mosley bounced back.

We live in a world where a google search will find you a picture of the most famous rapper in the world kissing his boss on the lips (not that there's anything wrong with that). People's attention spans are shorter and they just seem to care less. Bill Buckner has been forgiven. Chris Brown is just as famous today as he was pre-Rihanna. The idea of Steve Bartman being welcomed back to Wrigley Field is being tossed around now that Theo Epstein is supposed to usher in a new era. People just don't care when you fuck up anymore. They want to see how you respond.

Even if Manny or Mayweather were to fail a drug test, they, and boxing, would bounce back. Mike Tyson went to prison for sexual assault and was a hot ticket as soon as he got out and got back in the ring. Controversy sells, thats just the way it is. Mayweather himself is a prime example of this. The man has gone from the guy who said he wanted to beat Diego Corrales "for all the battered women in the world" to "Money" Mayweather who himself has a pending case for allegedly beating his ex, and the transformation has done nothing but pad his pockets. How would a steroid scandal be any different than the Margarito situation? Sure, some people will be mad, and a steroids scandal would never be good for boxing, but ultimately the show must go on. Remember, Margarito saw his richest fight after his scandal.

How much do you care about PEDs in boxing?

* * * * *

As an aside, I will offer my picks for the biggest fights of the weekend every week at the end of these columns, here are my picks for this weekend:

Angulo TKO 6 Kirkland: Kirkland has been shown to have a questionable chin until proven otherwise, but on the other hand Angulo's loss was to a taller rangy Kermit Cintron who simply outboxed Angulo. Kirkland isn't any of those things and won't outbox Angulo. I expect fireworks while it lasts.

Bute UD 12 Johnson: Johnson has lost all his recent fights against the top tier of the division and I don't expect it to change here. He will land the occasional overhand right but ultimately it won't be enough. If this is the fight where Johnson suddenly becomes old right before our eyes, Bute could stop him.

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