Boxing: golden boy

Morales tests positive for banned substance

October, 18, 2012
Erik Morales, due to face Danny Garcia in the main event in the debut of boxing at the Barclays Center on Saturday night, tested positive for a banned substance ahead of the bout, according to multiple reports.

ESPN's Dan Rafael reports that the Garcia-Morales fight will still take place. It is a rematch of their March scrap, won handily by Garcia, who holds two 140 pound titles.

Morales, age 36, was not able to make weight in the March tussle, and was two pounds over the limit at the weigh in. The weigh in for the Saturday fight unfolds Friday, Oct. 19, at the Barclays Center.
Put away your pitchforks, Paulie Malignaggi fans. Yes, on surface it may seem strange that the new arena, Barclays Center, is going to be open to boxing on Oct. 20 with a card tagged "Brooklyn Pride," and Brooklyn's best known pugilist won't be headlining the event.

But Malignaggi assures NYFightBlog that there is a viable reason for this, that it makes sense to have Danny Garcia-Erik Morales II headlining at the first fight card at Barclays.

"There is a longterm plan," the fighter, bred in Bensonhurst, told us. "My fans should stay patient, there is a very big fight coming, but it's hush hush for now."

Underneath the Golden Boy promoted Garcia-Morales II, Malignaggi told us, he will fight in a showcase scrap against 22 year-old Mexican Pablo Cano (25-1-1 with 19 KOs, best known for performing well in a loss to Erik Morales on 9-17-2011).

Malignaggi said he won't look past Cano, and put his WBA welterweight title in peril, because he has one eye on the mega-scrap he says is in the works, against a mystery foe.

"Cano I have to take seriously," he said. "He's a very good body puncher, he'll try to take my legs away. I will take him seriously." The 31 year-old fighter with a 31-4 mark said he expects the joint to be pretty packed with Mexicans rooting for Morales, and that he expects some hooting directed at him, on behalf of Cano.

Of the mystery foe and the date forthcoming, he said that news should drop soon. Malignaggi added that there were extensive talks with Brooklyner Zab Judah, and those fizzled, but that is a matchup that could come to fruition down the line. "be patient," the boxer said in closing. "I think my fans will not be disappointed."

"We will have fanfare at the arena, we will have lot of back and forth momentum in the crowd," he said.
Tuesday was a nice day for Victor Conte. For starters, he wasn't in jail. Not being flippant; the former BALCO bad boy, among athletes the most notable face of steroids and chemical transgressions in pursuit of performance and loot, spent four months locked up at the end of 2005 and into 2006 for distributing steroids.

Beyond being free, he was feeling a sense of satisfaction and vindication, because something he'd been railing about had, seemingly, been proven correct. It had been announced that D.C. boxer Lamont Peterson, who on December 10, 2011, had beaten Amir Khan and lifted Khan’s two junior welterweight belts from him in the process, tested positive for a banned substance.

Peterson was counting down to a May 19 rematch title defense, a re-do with Khan in Las Vegas, and had agreed to a stringent prefight testing regimen. In fact, he’d pushed for the regimen.

It emerged that a sample taken on March 19 came up dirty, for an anabolic steroid chemical; ESPN's Dan Rafael reported that Nevada athletic commission chief Keith Kizer told him that Peterson's counsel in fact admitted that the substance which caused the red flag was synthetic testosterone. Another sample, from the same specimen, was tested, and also was red-flagged by VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association), the outfit run by ex-Nevada ring doc head Margaret Goodman.

Peterson provided another specimen on April 13, which passed muster, as clean. But he didn't make it out of the woods; he would've had to provide an explanation to the Nevada commission to maintain his license to fight in Nevada. Before the specifics of that hearing coalesced, the plug was pulled on the whole card, by promoter Golden Boy. One could have seen where it might have been hard for the commission to give him the go-ahead, considering that the testosterone could give him an unfair advantage over Khan, who has not submitted an unclean specimen (as far as we know).

I reached out to Conte, who is quite likely among a handful of the most knowledgeable folks on this subject matter because of his nefarious past, though he maintains he is through with any dark-side behavior.

He said that yes, Peterson could achieve an unfair advantage by using synthetic testosterone ahead of a fight.

"That would enhance recovery, accelerate healing and tissue repair, and you can train harder and recover quicker," Conte said, "and it helps build lean muscle mass as well. I believe usage is rampant, and has been for a very long time."

He addressed the cancellation, word of which dropped a bit before 9 p.m. ET Wednesday, hammering Peterson for the debacle and for what he deems reckless behavior. "Hopefully the boxing world as a whole will learn some valuable lessons from this very unfortunate situation."

We note that Rafael reported that Peterson's attorney told Kizer that Peterson admits he used a testosterone supplement before the December bout, on the recommendation of a physician, to bolster a low count. So it appears the boxer will be defending himself with the explanation that a doctor OK'd the drug use. As of this posting, we have not heard from Team Peterson for its take on the cancellation, or further clarification of the admitted usage.

Conte was in an almost buoyant mood Tuesday, not because he has anything against Peterson. Indeed, I asked him up front if he had any dog in the hunt, considering he has consulted with boxers like Andre Berto and Nonito Donaire. No, he said, he has no vested interest in the (now DOA) Peterson-Khan rematch.

He said he was pleased because this positive was proof of what he’s been harping on for a few years, that PED usage is higher than most think, and that athletes are gaming the system because they know the existence of loopholes. Conte has said that testing heavyweight USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency), which does the testing for U.S. Olympians, doesn't have tough-enough standards, especially as compared to VADA. (Conte did have discussions with USADA years ago about being a consultant, but those broke down amid acrimony.)

VADA's methods caught Peterson, Conte said, while USADA's might have deemed the specimen clean. The Peterson sample detected a banned substance because a CIR (carbon isotope ratio) test was done, as per VADA's typical protocol. If USADA were doing the testing, Conte said, the CIR test would only have been done if a red flag was raised from their testosterone-to-epitestosterone test, or T/E ratio, test. Under USADA rules, if the T/E level breaches a 4-1 ratio, a CIR is then administered.

But Conte insists that the smart cheaters know not to breach the USADA T/E ratio, so they can, say, triple the amount of synthetic testosterone in their system, and yet still not trip a USADA warning buzzer.

"Knowing the 4 to 1 ratio is a huge loophole," Conte told me. "This is in my opinion biggest loophole in drug testing." (Note: I haven't seen official documentation regarding what the Peterson T/E ratio was. Conte's sourcing indicates that it was low enough that it would not have breached the USADA 4:1 acceptance level, or the 6:1 level allowed by the Nevada commission.)

Conte thinks that VADA flagging the Peterson specimen will result in the embrace of the CIR test, and the jettisoning of the T/E ratio test, which he dismisses as a loophole you can fit a Mack truck through.

"This is historic," he exulted, noting that the technology to flag such specimens as Peterson's have been around since the '90s, but has not been used to correct effect. (He has railed in video you can find on YouTube that testing methods aren't used properly because many entities do not want to catch athletes, for the record. That makes for compelling theory, but without proof, it's not my place to go there. Though my pal Ron Borges sagely just Tweeted that the cancellation of the event makes one understand that at the very least it might not be so high on the list of some of the sports' powers-that-be to have testing right up to an event date. Might we see language inserted in contracts putting dirty athletes on the hook for revenue lost if a card is scuttled?)

"It will have an impact at what they do at the Olympic games. The important message is people need to understand the difference between VADA and USADA testing," Conte said. "People must realize what I've been saying for years is the truth."

UPDATE: Team Peterson put out a statement, which Dan Rafael posted here. The fighter is maintaining that he suffers from low testosterone, and that is why he supplemented his testosterone. If he provides ample, irrefutable lab results from rock-solid sources, that would go some way in restoring his credibility, in my opinion. Why he didn't know, or chose not to, apparently, inform the Nevada commission of this condition and the treatment is not fathomable to me at this time.
PED scandals haven't tainted boxing the way they have baseball and football but the sweet science is smack dab in the middle of a situation which imperils one of the most anticipated bouts of this half year. Lamont Peterson is set to rematch Amir Khan on May 19 in Las Vegas; the DC-based junior welterweight is looking to beat Khan more conclusively than he did when they gloved up in DC last December. In that effort, Peterson won a split decision and came away with Khan's WBA and IBF junior welter titles. Controversy attached to the win because Peterson won on the cards of two judges by a single point, and during the course of the contest, the Brit Khan had two points taken away by the ref for pushing Peterson.

Now, more controversy has arisen.

On Monday, word came out that Peterson had tested positive for a banned substance, after submitting a sample during pre-fight testing he agreed to do. More specifics emerged today, with Khan's promoter Richard Schaefer holding a conference call to shed some light on the Peterson positive. The Golden Boy chief said he got word Monday from Nevada athletic commission head Keith Kizer that Peterson tested positive for a chemical that indicated he used an anabolic steroid. A specimen taken March 19, the 'A' sample, Schaefer said, tested positive, and was reported on April 12 to the outfit doing the testing, VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association). VADA told Peterson of the positive the next day. As is his right, he asked that a second sample, the 'B' sample, also from the March 19 specimen, be tested. It was tested by VADA on April 30, and also came back positive, Schaefer said. A sample furnished by Peterson on April 13 was reported as being clean on May 2. Schaefer explained that the matter is in hands of the Nevada commission, because the rematch is to be held in Las Vegas. Ring's Lem Satterfield spoke to Kizer after that conference call, and he said he was told by Peterson's counsel that the positive test came from the usage of testosterone pellets, and that the fighter acknowledged using them, a banned substance in Las Vegas, before the December bout with Khan. Kizer said that could well be grounds for having the win overturned. ESPN's Dan Rafael reported that Peterson's attorney will argue to Kizer and company that the positive came as a result of being treated for an undisclosed medical situation.

On the call, Schaefer, who says as of now Khan is still training and the fight is on, expressed annoyance that he wasn't told initially that Peterson tested positive.

The president of VADA, ex chief ringside physician of the Nevada Commission Margaret Goodman, released a statement in response to the Schaefer call.

It is important for VADA to carry out its mission consistent with respect for the privacy of the athletes who are tested.

VADA notified Lamont Peterson and his attorney, Jeff Fried, immediately after Mr. Peterson’s “A” sample tested positive.

VADA felt that it would be inappropriate for it to notify third parties of the positive test result at that time because there had been no confirmation of it.

It appears as though Mr. Peterson and Mr. Fried also chose not to notify third parties at that time in the hope that Mr. Peterson’s “B” sample would test negative.

As soon as Mr. Peterson’s “B” sample tested positive, VADA notified Mr. Peterson, Mr. Fried, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Neither Golden Boy Promotions nor HBO was a signatory to the VADA contract.

One wrinkle some folks find curious is that it is believed that Team Peterson pushed hard for strict testing on Khan; his strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza has been accused, mostly in whispered tones, of illegally aiding his client. Welterweight champ Paul Malignaggi, who has been quite vocal about what he believes is widespread use of PEDs in the sport, spoke on the matter to me: "It is tough to judge until all the proper info is made public. It seems strange as Lamont was the one who wanted the random no opinion until more info is public."

Check back for reaction from the Notorious VIC, Victor Conte, the former PED bad-boy who has redesigned himself into a primary agent of cleaning up sports of illegal doping.

Shocker! Hopkins semi-silent in NYC

February, 23, 2012
One might've expected he'd come out guns a blazing verbally, use some of that rhetorical magic which makes him the most effective fighter of his era when it comes to talking the talk that will help him walk the walk on fight night. But Bernard Hopkins shocked the room when he swerved us with silence at the NYC press conference to hype Hopkins-Dawson II on Wednesday at Planet Hollywood.

"All has been said," was all Hopkins, age 47, the oldest man to win a true world title, said in NYC after Chad Dawson and his promoter Gary Shaw had their say at the mike.

The mouths of the assembled press hung agape. We expected Hopkins to tear Dawson, who'd just called him a "punk" and Shaw, who'd just about accused the Philly legend of faking a shoulder injury in the October bout which ended in round two, a new one. Shaw had offered his historical take on what went down in October and the aftermath. He and Dawson both said that Dawson was having his way with Hopkins, and when they collided, and Dawson dumped Hopkins onto the canvas, Hopkins took the opportunity to opt out. He told the ref he couldn't continue, and the fight was over, with Dawson declared the winner.

Not so fast...Protests were made, and Hopkins' promoter Golden Boy was able to get the result changed to a No Contest. Thus, Hopkins held onto his light heavyweight crown, and Dawson was left fuming.

One reason we all thought Hopkins would go into blast mode is because he'd taken severe umbrage at the allegations that his shoulder injury was not so severe. When I brought that up to him, he said that those allegations, which Team Dawson, especially trainer John Scully, have been dispensing for months, should be summarily dismissed.

As usual, when pondered, it emerges that Hopkins' choice, not to litigate the shoulder in public, was a smart move. The evidence may not support him as he'd prefer to be supported. The MRIs that Scully has called for haven't surfaced. So, the sage decided to shift the conversation, curtail it rather than prolong it.

And lest you fear that he's lost his edge, and been cowed into a silence, and that perhaps has lost his lust for verbal combat and maybe physical combat as well, fear not. Hopkins spent the next hour in typical form, talking to press in smaller groups, discussing the parts of the October fight he wanted to discuss, and the parts of his career he wanted to play up.

Hopkins-Dawson II will unfold on April 28, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. HBO will televise.

Note: I was talking to Hopkins' publicist and pal, Kelly Swanson, at the end of the affair. I told her that I thought the 29 year-old Dawson was too much physically for the ole man at this point, but if pressed, I'd have to admit, I'm sort of rooting for Hopkins. He motivates and encourages all of us who feature a gray hair or two or two hundred, and he is a fascinating and entertaining character study in how he approaches the mental and psychological side of the sport. But I fear that the age thing might be insurmountable on April 28. We shall see...

Malignaggi-Senchenko finalized

February, 15, 2012
Paulie Malignaggi will get another crack at a crown, on April 29. He will have to log some airtime to do it, as the fight, against WBA welterweight champion Viacheslav Senchenko will take place in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Paulie, the former junior welterweight titlist, said that as of now, there are no plans for TV broadcast to the US, but he is hopeful someone (maybe EPIX?) will pick up the tussle, so fans of the #TK (Twitter King) can get their fix.

Malignaggi is not overly thrilled with his take; he'll get $275,000 gross, which will come out of the pot held by Union Boxing, the promoters of Senchenko. He said he'll have to spend a chunk of that to put together a camp in that region, to help him get used to the time zone differential.

He also said his promoter Golden Boy did all they could to try and put together a fight that would appeal to HBO or Showtime, but the cablers didn't bite. (Aside: I'm not an expert on who does what ratings, but I do know Paulie is one of the very best at promoting his bouts with his mouth, so he saves a network money on promotion when they buy a Paulie fight...and it's slightly mystifying at some of the guys who make the cut, and get TV gigs, when he doesn't...but anyway...).

Malignaggi's manager, ace pizzaman Anthony Catanzaro, weighed in as the fight particulars were hashed out. "We are looking forward to winning our second world title in two different weight classes," he said. "We respect Senchenko, however we feel we have the style to outbox him. Paulie is a fighter in the old-fashioned sense of the word and we are honored to represent such a gifted and courageous young man."

Malignaggi wants Santa Golden Boy to deliver

December, 19, 2011
Paulie Malignaggi, the Twitter King, the NYC P4P No. 1, is back in the boroughs for the holidays. As far as I can tell, Malignaggi isn’t in an indulgent mode, as he barely nibbled while gorgeous grandma pies were laid in front of him at his manager Anthony Catanzaro’s pizza joint, Portobello’s, on Murray St. on Monday afternoon.

I did nibble, and managed to take some notes as Catanzaro shared what he wants Santa, or Malignaggi’s promoter, Golden Boy, to stick in their stocking.

As best as I can make out through the sauce stain on my notepad, Catanzaro said, “In a perfect world, we would love to bring WBA world welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko to either Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a title fight. Hopefully, Golden Boy can get it done.”

Malignaggi signed on with them when he moved to LA a year ago. He basically booked fights with Marcos Maidana and Erik Morales in the last couple weeks on Twitter, but for various reasons those fell through. Too bad…I’d like to see if he could avoid Maidana’s bombs for 12 rounds, and I’d rather see Morales against the light-hitting vet Malignaggi than against young gun Danny Garcia, who could well spell the end of the line for the Mexican legend.

Maybe I’m just partial, because I’m a Brooklyn guy, dealing with the mean streets of Park Slope, and Malignaggi is Bensonhurst bred. But the kid sells the heck out of fights, and with the right stylistic matchup, makes for good fights. I do predict he will headline in an ‘A’ side versus ‘A’ side scrap in New York sometimes in 2012, and will be back on either HBO or Showtime. I’m hoping so; he has only a couple years left in the game, and to be frank, I’ve seen lesser lights get marquee dates lately. And with Barclays opening up next year, and him being the biggest name NY-associated boxer, well, it just makes sense.

In any case, he looks ready to fight on short notice, close to weight, and I appreciate him leaving more grandma slices for me to attack. My diet starts January 1…

Kendall Holt to fight Golden Boy future star

October, 12, 2011
Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson tops a Saturday card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That fight might not be a barnburner, as Dawson is a disciplined technician who doesn't make mental mistakes, and the style matchup between he and Hopkins, who feasts on his foes' mental mistakes, might not jell. But I'm pretty amped for one of the undercard attractions, which pits Kendall Holt, who tore himself away from the mean streets of Paterson, N.J., to become a junior welter champ, against touted prospect Danny Garcia (age 23; 21-0 with 14 KOs).

Garcia's crew at Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions thinks their kid from Philly will get a boost in reputation if he knocks off the 30-year-old Holt, who brings a 27-4 with 15 KOs mark to the table.

I talked to Holt not long ago, a pro since March 2001, and picked his brain on the matchup.

"Garcia is a great kid, he's coming up, until now they've been picking the right fights for him for moving his development process along," the fighter said. "Now I think they've bitten off more than they can chew in choosing me as an opponent. They think I'm the same Kendall Holt and it's my job to prove them wrong."

Holt is one of those guys who you have to see as something of a miracle, because he had dead-end kid written all over him. His mom was into drugs, and his dad wasn't around, so he went into foster care at age 5. His dad came back into the picture, but then his mom hit bottom; in 1992 she was sentenced to 32 years in prison for a so-called "thrill killing." (Prosecutors said it was a thrill killing of a homeless man, others maintain she was dealing, and was protecting her stash from a robber.) She was released in 2001, but Holt still drifted.

He dealt drugs, and only gave that up after he had three pro fights. His career had peaks and valleys, as his self-discipline wavered, but in 2008, he won the WBO junior welter crown, in a rematch with champ Ricardo Torres. He defended it once, against Demetrius Hopkins, before losing the strap to Timothy Bradley in his next outing. During that time frame, he was also drifting back into his old ways.

Check back for Holt's take on who he wants after he beats Garcia.

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Malignaggi critiqued ex-promoter DiBella on radio

September, 22, 2011
When Lou DiBella went into the ballistic zone on the afternoon of Sept. 14 as he discussed his former fighter, Paulie Malignaggi -- the Bensonhurt, Brooklyn, native who moved to California last year to try and re-invigorate his career -- I wasn't clear on what he was responding to. What set Lou off?

So I poked around, and found comments Malignaggi made on the "Rope A Dope" radio show on the evening of Sept. 14. Was the show pre-taped, and Lou got wind of the contents? Or was the promoter simply hearing things on the grapevine? The hard-and-fast timeline aside, here's a taste of Malignaggi's comments regarding DiBella.

"People talk about my career, they have this myth I couldn't punch, I had constant injuries and (all the success) was all thanks to Lou," Malignaggi said. "They're fifty percent right. I think the other fifty percent is Lou owes me a thank you for doing all the things I did to me making his company as well."

Malignaggi acknowledged that he can be emotional, and said the same goes for DiBella. He made sure to mention that he isn't trying to tell the world that fighting under the DiBella banner was such a curse to his career. "It could have been worse. Signing with Don King would have been worse."

But he did lay out a decent sized list of where he think DiBella and company could have served him better. He said DiBella didn't fight to get a smaller ring than the enormous one which was used during the 2006 Miguel Cotto-Malignaggi fight at MSG. "I'm doing my job you got to do your job ... At least look out for me ... this is where I get a little critical."

He went on, saying that he thinks no one at Dibella Entertainment thought he'd win that fight. (He got this info, he said, because he was on the sly dating a lady who worked at DBE, and she told him what others at the office said about him.) He also said Lou should have warned him about hiring an ex-manager, who he says was no prize. Malignaggi said he didn't think DiBella battled hard enough for him before he was jobbed by the judges in Texas in his 2009 fight with Juan Diaz, and didn't lobby hard enough for the bout to take place outside Diaz' home state. A rematch with Diaz was secured, and the fighter said he did that himself.

The boxer said he's happy to be working with Golden Boy, which he said is helping build him back up on TV, whereas, he thinks with DiBella he would not have been on TV. It would have been out of sight, out of mind, in that case, the transplant said.

The radio segment went over 20 minutes, so Malignaggi laid out more dirty laundry. Come back for more of his side, and then NYFightblog will take a look at the origin of the flareup. Hint: it stemmed from a mistake made by the radio host.