Thursday, March 18, 2010
Mayweather vs Mosley
By Jake Donovan
Here’s to the start of a beautiful relationship.
In the latest effort to help boxing progress from the dark ages, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley confirmed on Thursday afternoon their commitment to random drug testing for their May 1 super fight in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Representatives for both fighters joined USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) CEO Travis Tygart on a media conference call Thursday afternoon. The procedure to ensure that both fighters are drug-free ahead of their highly anticipated showdown was discussed in full detail by Tygart, with the unbridled support of both sides of the promotion.
“Today is a watershed moment in the advancement of anti-doping efforts,” declared Tygart. “At this point, both athletes have agreed to the testing protocols, which includes blood and urine testing, unannounced at any time.”
Both fighters have been briefed on the procedures that will take place and were required to provide their whereabouts 24/7 for the next six weeks to the USADA, who will conduct an unspecified amount of blood and urine samples. The fighters are obligated to keep the USADA updated of any changes in their itinerary during that specified period.
Monday will mark the start of the testing period, though tests won’t necessarily take place on that day. Such knowledge would defeat the purpose of random testing in the first place, as would confirmation of the number of tests that would be conducted.
“We have a number of tests we believe will maximize its effectiveness,” stated Tygart in walking the fine line between being cryptic and specific in his details. “Our job leading up to this fight is to ensure that both athletes are clean. You can’t put a maximum on it.
“If athletes knew that a third test or fifth test would be the last, it provides them the opportunity to cheat after that.”
Such methods of drug testing are what ultimately led to the cancellation of the highly anticipated pound-for-pound showdown between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Had the two sides reached a compromise, said fight would’ve taken place last weekend. However, Team Pacquiao viewed Mayweather’s stance as trying to prove he is bigger than the sport, and instead opted to look in another direction, which led to last weekend’s pay-per-view clash with Joshua Clottey.
Once Pacquiao made up his mind and pulled the plug on this fight, Mayweather then set his sights on Mosley, regarded by many as the best welterweight in the world.
The timing was perfect for Mosley, who saw his planned January 30 alphabet unification match with Andre Berto fall through after Berto pulled out in order to be with family during the devastation suffered in their native homeland of Haiti earlier this year.
Having not fought since his sensational upset knockout of Antonio Margarito last January, Mosley wasn’t interested in wasting any more time finding a new opponent. He jumped at the chance to face Mayweather the moment the opportunity was offered to him, agreeing to all terms without hesitation, including unlimited random drug testing.
The irony in the selection of Mosley is his alleged involvement in the BALCO scandal from earlier this decade. The three-division world champion testified in front of a grand jury in late 2003 that he injected himself with EPO in preparation for his rematch with Oscar De La Hoya earlier that year, though also swore under oath that he was unaware of the substance being illegal or banned and has since filed a lawsuit against BALCO founder Victor Conte.
Tygart admitted to taking Mosley’s history into consideration when offering their services for this fight, but pointed out that it’s the perfect example of what their organization is truly after.
“We considered it thoroughly, his alleged involvement with BALCO. We asked ourselves, what would clean athletes want us to do? Clean athletes want to be involved.”
Representatives for Mosley were a bit more emphatic in their pointing out that Mosley’s actions for this fight is further proof that he doesn’t have anything to hide.
“Shane would not be doing this if he weren’t certain that he isn’t clean,” points out Judd Burstein, Mosley’s high-profile attorney. “He is doing this… and didn’t hesitate when asked.”
If anything, Mosley believes it will go a long way in clearing his name, offering further proof that – despite public perception to the contrary – he is in fact a clean fighter.
"I think the testing program is a great idea; I did not hesitate for a minute about agreeing to it," said Mosley. "Let's hope that the rest of the boxing world follows Floyd's and my example.”
Stiff penalties await any athlete whose sample tests positive for any banned substance. A two-year suspension is handed down, along with the immediate cancellation of this event should either fighter (or both) test positive.
Should a positive test surface, the offending party will have the opportunity to challenge the result in front of an independent panel and also provide a B-sample analysis.
However, such results will be made aware to the public, as the goal is to ensure a level playing field, not conceal the evidence in efforts to push through with the event.
“From our perspective, it’s a search for the truth,” insists Tygart. “Should a positive test occur, we’ll be (at the hearing) encouraging the arbitrator to hand down the maximum penalty.”
Even a clean test today doesn’t put either fighter in the clear (no pun intended). Samples will be stored for up to eight years, to be made available for future testing.
The methods of testing to take place in accordance with the USADA come in addition to the requirements of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The argument made during negotiations for Pacquiao-Mayweather was that the commission is the one who dictates the terms, and that a request for an amendment to such terms should be filed prior to the bout.
Random drug screening by means of blood tests is not required by any governing body under the Association of Boxing Commissions. Among other reasons speculated for the lack of stricter standards is the cost that comes with the suggested methods.
When asked of the price of such extensive testing, Tygart answer was simple: priceless.
“Past concerns were about cost. My point has always been that you can’t afford to not do it.”
Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, who is quick to credit Mayweather with being a pioneer for what he hopes will become a growing trend, echoes such sentiments.
“I’m excited with Floyd – being the face of boxing – stepping out to be a part of history. This is truly a historic moment for the sport of boxing. This will be something that all of the commissions will get on board with… it will truly be great for the sport of boxing.”
One commission in particular has already considered joining the party – or at the very least, admitting that their present system is flawed.
“We're in the process of doing the research now," said Melvina Lathan, head of the New York State Athletic Commission, in a recent interview with the New York Post. "We have been for several weeks. We're going to upgrade our testing policies. As soon as my medical advisory board gets back to me with their findings, we're going to look over their recommendations."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer hopes that more commissions will follow suit, to where such methods of drug testing will no longer have to be requested, instead becoming the standard. Starting with such a high profile event as Mayweather-Mosley is key in getting the ball rolling.
“I think that it takes a certain event to trigger something,” states Schaefer, who stops short of claiming the policy to be Golden Boy’s official stance on the subject, but is heavily in favor of reform within the sport. “This is the gold standard of drug testing. I hope this will be a trigger to force other commissions to examine their own medical standards.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at JakeNDaBox@gmail.com.