By Oliver Suarez
The fight of the decade is now currently off and the cloud of steroids is now hanging over the Pound for Pound King. Now he is basically being mandated by the opposite side, some fans and boxing analysts to furnish proof that he is not a cheater. This is a fighter who has never tested positive for using any illegal substance or been involved closely with anybody that has been associated with the issue of steroids.
The issue now is not Pacquiao refusing to take the blood test but the terms and who will conduct the tests. Remember, the blood test is not part of the Nevada Athletic Commission testing, yet Pacquiao is being pressured to take a “non-mandatory” type testing. He’s already willing to go above and beyond what is required even though he’s passed all the tests necessary, including blood tests that are required whenever he needed to renew his boxing license in Nevada.
What is it really all about?
First it’s about Pacquiao’s skills constantly being undermined. His critics from the start recognize him as an exciting fighter with limited skills and potential. Paulie Malignaggi in past interviews with fighthype.com and Boxingscene.com gave Floyd Jr. and Roy Jones Jr. the benefit of the doubt in regards to their success in the higher weight classes, but doubted Pacquiaos capacity to do it without any help based on his skills set. Obviously many of his critics have already formed a preconceived idea of what Pacquiao can or can’t accomplish. So, they can’t fathom the fact that he’s been able to achieve so much. Why do you think new excuses pop up when Pacquiao achieves something?
What’s next? He needs to shave his porn mustache because it bothers his opponent.
What they don’t into account is that Pacquiao like other great athletes is a dedicated student of his respective sport who continues to hone his skills despite the level of success he’s reached. Also, unlike many boxers such as Mayweather, he didn’t have the privilege of having proper training and the chance to polish his skills through the amateurs when he first started boxing. Now with his work ethic combined with Roach’s guidance, he’s able to transform into a more complete boxer and consequently attained the level of success that many did not expect from him.
It’s also about the Mayweathers’ camp attempting to sway the public sentiments towards them.
Floyd Mayweather for the longest time has been trying to do his Ali impersonation in trying to be the biggest star in the sport; the problem is it’s not working. Meanwhile, Pacquiao just went on about his business and became arguably the biggest superstar in the sport by doing it the old fashioned way of fighting the best.
Now Mayweather can’t accept that a fighter who he sees as inferior has achieved what he always aspired for himself. As a result, he had to associate Pacquiao’s name to steroids to get the support of the American public.
But let’s be honest and stop tiptoeing around the main reason why many accuse of Pacquiao of steroids. Many have mentioned the names of Mosley, Bonds, Vargas and Bonds in relation to Pacquiao. The difference is there was no real public outcry about them using steroids until evidence was found linking them to it. So far, no evidence whatsoever about the use of steroids has ever been associated to Pacquiao.
Tiger Wood’s doctor has just been arrested for allegedly using and importing performance-enhancing drugs. How come there’s not a public outcry for Woods to be tested or discussions about whether his accomplishments were tainted. Sure, the issue has been overshadowed by his extra-marital scandals, but that’s not the only reason.
The real reason is because of ignorance and how people put groups in certain categories. The athletes mentioned above were given the benefit of the doubt before possible evidence of steroids use came out, because most of us subconsciously thought that they were genetically capable of achieving what they had done.
Now, a Filipino in a sport historically dominated by Latinos, Americans and Europeans has become its most popular and accomplished star. Suddenly, doubts are cast about how Pacquiao has been able to attain such a level of success. I’ve even heard statements that if past boxing legends such as Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard couldn’t do what Pacquiao did, then there must be something. Well, I say why can’t a Filipino like Pacquiao do it? Pacquiao controls his own destiny and his greatness is not dependent on other’s accomplishments.
It’s also been proven in history that just as records are made to be broken, another athlete is bound to arise to set new standards in his/her respective sport. Who’s considered by most as the best basketball player of all time? It is Michael Jordan and not Chamberlain or Robertson.
Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, Filipinos along with other Asian or Pacific Islander groups come in all sizes and are involved in most if not all of the major sports.
There is Eugene Amano, a guard for the Tennessee Titans and Eugene Espineli pitches for the San Francisco Giants. Both of them are full-blooded Filipinos. As a group, Filipinos are as capable of reaching the same level of greatness as any other group. Would Pacquiao’s accomplishments be questioned as much if he was African American, Hispanic or of European descent?
Pacquiao has been in the sport for 15 years and it’s inevitable that his body would develop as he grew older. Have you seen pictures of Kobe or Jordan when they first came to the league? Do they look the same as in the latter parts of their careers?
Mayweather himself is a five divisional champion and fought all the way up to the junior middleweight division. How come no one is questioning him about steroids and Pacquiao is being singled out? Let’s remember Pacquiao started at the 106-pound division when he was 16 years old and Floyd Jr. was a 106-pound Golden Gloves champion at the same age. It’s all rooted from the same ignorance that led many before to believe that blacks didn’t have the intelligence to become quarterbacks.
Let us also remember the fact that Pacquiao grew up dirt poor, and came from a Third World country and thus was not receiving the proper nutrition. You think the ghetto here is bad; it is heaven compared to its counterpart in Third World countries such as Somalia and the Philippines. Now, Pacquiao’s got the resources to have the best possible training and nutrition at his disposal.
Now let’s analyze the reasons his detractors believe that Pacquiao is taking illegal substances. They’ve said that Pacquiao has gained about 20-pounds of muscles mass. Is Pacquiao now a super middleweight? If that’s the case then he might as well take Jermaine Taylor’s place in the Super Middleweight Tournament. The fact is that he has not even made the maximum weight in most of his fights above the lightweight division.
It’s just an exaggerated statement made by envious people who know that most fans will take it at face value without looking at the facts. It was the same case when Mayweather detractors said that the latter had a 20-pound advantage over Marquez during their fight. You can’t always believe what you hear.
If you are a hardcore boxing fan then you should know that Pacquiao had been draining himself to make the weight in the lower divisions and thus was forced to move up in weight. In addition, his weight has not dramatically risen as Floyd Sr. and others try to make you believe. His weight during fight time has been constantly around 144 to 148 since his junior lightweight days. The truth is that he has outgrown the lower weight divisions and is just forced to lose less weight.
Also Mayweather had released statements that it’s for the sake of sportsmanship and fairness. I guess showing up two pounds over the weight limit shows professionalism and fairness. We also have Schaefer stating that Pacquiao should have no problem undergoing the Olympic-style drug testing. This is from a guy who was previously quoted in an Associated Press article as saying that the Nevada Athletic Commission testing is sufficient enough when Zab Judah wanted Shane Mosley to take a blood test during negotiations for a possible fight.
Others have also criticized Pacquiao for using superstition as an excuse for refusing to take a blood test. Is this coming from real sports fans and analysts? If it is, they should know that superstitions have been part of sports since day one and many athletes follow certain rituals very seriously before or while playing their respective sports. Michael Jordan always wore his blue Carolina shorts before each game for good luck. Baseball pitcher Turk Wendell brushed his teeth and chewed licorice between innings.
What is also not being discussed is the cultural difference in regards to superstitions. Many in this country may not hold superstitions in high regard but in the Philippines, it is part of everyday life in many parts of the country. A number of people in the country still prefer spiritual healing as the method to cure sickness. There also numerous other superstitions that Filipinos follow very seriously that might seem ridiculous to outsiders. But who to say that they are wrong and should abandon their beliefs?
The criticisms about Pacquiao’s fear of needles and how it might affect him are also ignorant. Did they mention that Pacquiao felt weakened when blood was drawn before the first Morales fight? Who is to say that it won’t affect him? I know someone that feels dizzy for a week when he takes a blood test. It might be all psychological but it affects your performance nonetheless. Each person’s body is different; some people can go to work with a hangover and some can’t.
I wonder what the reaction would have been if Michael Jordan was required by the opposing team to take a unnecessary blood test before Game 7 of an NBA championship?
We’ve also heard a few people bring up the fact that if Pacquiao can have tattoos, then he should not have a problem with taking a blood test. The difference is that Pacquiao can go home and rest after he has his tattoos done. He’s not waking up the next day to face one of the best boxers in history. Boxing is a violent sport and a fighter must be ready both mentally and physically.
This issue shouldn’t even be taken seriously and the timing of it is suspicious. It’s funny how Oscar said that Pacquiao didn’t hit hard, yet now feels that Pacquiao should succumb to a ‘non-mandatory ‘ drug testing. It’s even more laughable when it’s coming from Mayweather Jr., whose credibility is questionable and has a history of hypocrisy. Mayweather needs to step up and sign the contract if he truly wants to fight Pacquiao before it’s too late. Pacquiao’s legacy is already secured as an all-time great and doesn’t need Mayweather to validate his greatness