Manny Pacquiao believes he was sabotaged by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He believes word leaked to Floyd Mayweather's camp about his right shoulder injury. He believes that the NSAC deliberately refused to allow him a numbing injection prior to the fight. He believes his team gave the commission proper advance notice.
The commission disagrees. Chairman Francisco Aguilar says that while Pacquiao did get approval from USADA, who administered random blood and urine testing leading up to the fight, to take the lidocaine cocktail to deal with a shoulder injury in camp, Top Rank and Pacquiao's team did not give the commission notice of the injury before the fight.
Aguilar said that Pacquiao's camp noted the possible need for the lidocaine cocktail on a medical form filled out at Friday's weigh-in, but a check mark in the "no" box was placed next to the question of whether the fighter had a shoulder injury.
"If the injury was disclosed at the weigh-in, we could've had a conversation and handled it differently," Aguilar said. "When you come at 6:30 with the fight at 8, that's a different conversation."
This has been a major dark cloud hanging over yet another of boxing's big events, which was yet another disappointment for many in the first place. Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KO)
Pacquiao's team released a statement today:
"During training, Manny Pacquiao suffered a right shoulder injury. Manny went to see world-class doctors, partners in the prestigious Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Clinic, who performed tests and, in consultation with Manny, his promoter, and his advisors, concluded that with short rest, treatments, and close monitoring, Manny could train and, on May 2, step into the ring against Floyd Mayweather.
"Manny's advisors notified the United States Anti-Doping Agency of the shoulder injury and the treatments being proposed by the doctors during training and on fight night. USADA spoke to Manny's doctors twice, investigated, and confirmed in writing that the proposed treatments, if used, were completely allowed. The medication approved for fight night was a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Toradol).
"Manny continued to train and his shoulder improved, though not 100%. This is boxing, injuries happen, and Manny is a warrior. Again, in consultation, with his doctor, promoter and advisors, Manny decided to proceed with the fight anticipating that he could receive his pre-fight treatment. That specific treatment had been approved by USADA in writing at least 5 days before the fight.
"On his pre-fight medical form filled out earlier in the week, Manny's advisors listed the medications that Manny used in training and the medications that might be used on fight night. A few hours before he was expected to step in the ring, when Manny's doctors began the process, the Nevada Commission stopped treatment because it said it was unaware of Manny's shoulder injury.
"This was disappointing to Team Pacquiao since they had disclosed the injury and treatment to USADA, USADA approved the treatments, and Manny had listed the medication on his pre-fight medical form.
"Also, USADA had provided a copy of its contract with the fighters to the Commission. An hour before the fight, Manny's advisors asked the Commission to reconsider and the director of USADA advised the Commission that USADA had approved the fight night treatment, but the Commission denied the request.
"With the advice of his doctors, Manny still decided to proceed with the fight. His shoulder wasn't perfect but it had improved in training camp. However, as Manny has said multiple times, he makes no excuses. Manny gave it his best."
Despite making no excuses, Pacquiao said that the injury absolutely affected his performance:
"I backed off because of the pain. It's very important to have confidence in your right and left, and when you're hurt, you're thinking about that, too."
An article at Manila Standard Today has an even deeper Pacquiao statement regarding the injury being leaked from his gym and reaching Mayweather, as well as his belief that the Nevada Commission worked against him:
"Did you see when he was pulling my arm? Because he knew. He was pulling it, did you see? Because he knew. I felt like a needle was penetrating my bones. I really needed that shot because if I throw a power hook or power jab, it hurt. We filled it out, but also I'm so disappointed because for the first time in my boxing career, more than 20 years, they held my vitamins, they held my water (from) the dressing room. This is new."
Now, we don't know if Pacquiao's camp is exaggerating or lying or whatever else, or if the Nevada commission did know about the injury (even if they did, Pacquiao's team should have checked that "yes" box instead of "no"), or if there is some mass conspiracy, or if the world and stars and universe all came together, working through the Nevada State Athletic Commission and #TMT to shoot down Manny Pacquiao's chances. This isn't even totally about that.
What we can say, or at least I will, is that this is another complete embarrassment for the sport of boxing. All that talk of the Fight of the Century, about the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue generated, the fighters' massive paychecks, the $100 pay-per-view, the tickets, the agony in putting the fight together, all those celebrities in attendance, the special neutral graphics on TV that indicated neither HBO nor Showtime, the delightful banter between Jim Lampley and Al Bernstein, Mayweather going to 48-0, Pacquiao getting his opportunity and falling short -- none of that is really being talked about now.
Who's right? It doesn't even matter, and we'll almost certainly never really know. Opinions will be formed, takes will be hot, and this will be fodder for more "boxing is dead" articles and talking head TV discussions. And, really, if you take off the blinders of your fandom and look at this from the outside a little bit, can you blame anyone? This was the big fight? Which now is about shoulder injuries and sabotage?
It's once again about claims of sabotage, conspiracy, corruption, or whatever else. This was the Fight of the Century. And unfortunately, it does represent where boxing far too often is today. Scandal, controversy, accusations, and politics. The fights and the athletes are pushed to the background, while the blame game takes center stage.
Welcome to boxing. I understand if you won't be staying.