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Edwin Valero Adds to Disturbing Trend in Recent Boxing Deaths

Within the last three years at least five prominent boxers have died. One was an accident, three were suicides, and one was a murder crime. Most recently, Venezuelan lightweight champion Edwin Valero committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell early Monday morning after being suspected of killing his wife on Sunday. Valero had a reputation as quite the mauler given his 27-0 record by 27 knockouts. He had several problems with his wife over the past year and their deaths was the end result.

Back in July of 2009, Alexis Arguello was found dead at his home in Nicaragua, the victim of a gunshot to the chest that was ruled a suicide. Arguello was a champ in three different weight classes and had recently been elected mayor of Managua prior to his death. His son does not believe his father committed suicide. Arguello was 82-8 with 65 knockouts in his career.

Two weeks later, also in July 2009, Arturo Gatti was found dead at a hotel room in Brazil, the apparent victim of strangulation. His wife was initially suspected of strangling him with a purse strap but by late July she had been released from jail and the death had been ruled a suicide. Gatti was 40-9 in his career, a world champ in two weight classes, and part of a classic trilogy of bouts with Micky Ward.

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Pacquiao/Clottey Pay-Per-View Numbers Could Hurt Mayweather Negotiations

Pretty much every story in the boxing world can be tied back to one core issue: when will Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight? I don’t care how many Roy Jones Jr./Bernard Hopkins fights or Andre Berto battles they promote, there’s only one issue that matters to me and the general sports public: Mayweather and Pacquiao. While Pacman took care of business by destroying Joshua Clottey two weeks ago, Mayweather still has to hold his end up by beating the BALCO-less Shane Mosley. Assuming that happens in May, the two camps will be back to their familiar posturing as they try to negotiate a deal. As if the issue of drug testing didn’t already provide enough of a hurdle, now we have another one.

HBO announced Tuesday that the Manny Pacquiao/Joshua Clottey drubbing in Arlington generated 700,000 pay-per-view buys. Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s most recent fight, a win over Juan Manuel Marquez, produced a million PPV buys. Making matters worse for Manny, his fight with Marquez in ’08 generated around 400,000 PPV buys. Of course that figure is relative because Pacquiao’s popularity has exploded in the past two years and Mayweather’s fight was his first out of retirement, but it’s no less indicative of potential future problems. That Mayweather against a lesser name almost outdrew Pacquiao against a lesser name by 50% will be a sticking point in negotiations between the two.

Mayweather’s camp will use those numbers as leverage to say he’s the bigger draw and that he deserves a bigger share of the purse. Pacquiao’s camp will counter by saying that Manny’s a global figure and an equally large draw. While Floyd’s numbers are more impressive, here’s what I think the most fair way to settle it is: split the purse 50-50. Floyd can generate one million buys on his own and Pacquiao can probably generate around 700,000, but the two of them fighting against each other would cause numbers to explode — 3.5 million pay-per-view buys, anyone? The sum of their parts creates an intrigue that’s greater than each of their wholes. 50-50 split, guys. It’s the most fair way to divvy the millions.

Of course now we’re just going to see Mayweather lose to Mosley, but that’s besides the point.

Sources:
Pacquiao-Clottey generates 700,000 pay-per-view buys [USA Today]

Tom Brady Spotted Boxing in Los Angeles

One of the stories this past week for the Patriots was that their star quarterback, Tom Brady, was not present in Foxboro for the start of the team’s offseason workouts. Brady previously had a strong record of being the most dedicated Patriot in offseason workouts but his new family lifes has led to changes — Brady now spends more time in Los Angeles, away from the New England-area. Despite missing team workouts in Foxboro, we have confirmation that Brady’s been staying in shape in LA. The website Faded Youth spotted 12 doing some boxing in Beverly Hills:

Thanks to the almighty PFT for the heads up on that story. While it’s encouraging that Brady is apparently staying in shape on his own (not unlike many other star players), boxing in a ring and working with your receivers are two completely different things. Obviously Brady’s priorities and responsibilities in life have changed and he has adjusted accordingly. While coaches like Mike Shanahan have demanded that players show up for Redskins workouts, Brady’s missing time with his teammates. I have no doubt that the guy is a pro who will be ready to play at a high level this season, but it’s indisputable that his focused has changed. Let’s just hope the boxing proves to be more beneficial for Tom than MMA was for Matt Leinart.

Sources:
TOM BRADY STAYS IN FIGHTING SHAPE [Faded Youth]
Tom Brady Takes up Boxing [Pro Football Talk]

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley Begin USADA Olympic-Style Drug Testing

One of the criticisms of Floyd Mayweather Jr. was that he was holding up the fight with Manny Pacquiao because of outrageous demands that both fighters submit to random drug testing including blood tests. Critics say Mayweather was making these demands because he was afraid to fight Pacquiao. While I believe Mayweather took these steps because he knows how dangerous of a fighter Manny is, Floyd has displayed consistency in his new views on drug testing. Pretty Boy made Sugar Shane Mosley agree to random, Olympics-style drug testing prior to their fight, and they will begin that testing on Monday, March 22nd.

“I am excited that Shane Mosley and I are willing to take these tests to ensure a fair fight on May 1,” said Mayweather. “I just want to show the world that boxing is a clean sport and it is my hope that all fighters will take a similar stance and responsibility which reflects sportsmanship at the highest level and sets a new standard for safety in boxing.”

“I think the testing program is a great idea and 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.”

It’s a great sign that the two fighters have agreed to the random testing to come as close as possible to ensuring a level playing field, PED-wise. I really do hope that all boxing commissions in the U.S. and all sanctioning bodies around the world follow the precedent set by Mayweather and Mosley. As I’ve said all along, if Manny Pacquiao doesn’t have anything to hide then he shouldn’t have a problem with random blood testing. What might he be hiding that urine tests might not detect, you ask? Check out this list from USADA via FanHouse: Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Homologus Blood Tranfusion (HBT), Synthetic Hemoglobin (HBOC) and the passport program. That’s what Pacquiao could be hiding, amongst others. Why not submit to this program to prove he’s clean? That’s all he has to do, and with the health risks and physically demanding nature of the sport, why not level the playing field for all fighters as best as we can?

Sources:
USADA’s Travis Tygart Says ‘Test Blood’; Richard Schaefer, ‘Zero Tolerance’ [FanHouse]

Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach Call Out Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Saturday March 13th, 2010 was supposed to be around the same time Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were to fight. The dream matchup never went through because Floyd wanted Pacquiao to follow pre-fight Olympics-style drug testing but Manny Pacquiao refused. Instead, Pacquiao filled the void in his schedule with Joshua Clottey and Mayweather moved onto Sugar Shane Mosley. Pacquiao whopped up on Clottey as many expected, and that naturally drew all the postfight questions regarding a potential bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Both Pacman and his trainer Freddie Roach seemed eager to touch gloves with Pretty Boy in their post fight interview on HBO PPV:

Pacquiao: “It’s up to him. For me, it’s no problem to fight him. I will fight him anytime. He should win against Mosley. If not, Mosley and I will fight. [Floyd's] style is not a difficult style; he needs to handle his business in his next fight.”

Roach: “It’s the fight the world wants to see. Me and Manny want to see it. Floyd, let the commission do their job — you don’t run the sport! Get in the ring and fight us.”

Sure, Mayweather may be scared of fighting Pacquiao — for good reason — Pacman’s dangerous. But as I’ve said before and as I’ll say again until Manny relents, submitting to random drug testing should not be a problem unless Pacquiao has something to hide. Sack up Manny, take the tests, and let’s hope for a Mayweather win so the world can get what it wants. Plus, how could either fighter turn down an easy $30-$40 million payday?

Picture: Hayden Panettiere and Wladimir Klitschko Sitting in a Tree

Two names I never thought I’d mention together in the same sentence: Hayden Panettiere and Wladimir Klitschko. We’ve long been fans of Hayden since the day she became legal around 26 months ago (not that we’re counting). She always seemed to be a girl who dated the Hollywood type, not athletes. But as TMZ points out thanks to a photo from Pacific Coast News, Panetierre and Klitschko were spotted together in Miami.

Hayden Panettiere and Wladimir Klitschko

I don’t even know what to make of this photo. Are the two dating? Did they vacation together? Do they have the same agent? How in the world is the IBF, IBO, and WBF heavyweight champion who’s so little known by U.S. sports fans known by Hayden Panettiere? What is going on here?

Manny Pacquiao Plans to Sue one Steroids Accuser but Fight Another

In one of the greatest paradoxes I’ve seen in sports, Manny Pacquiao and his camp are making making themselves look even worse for their recent decisions. The madness began a few days ago when the agreement between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao to fight on March 13th began to fall through. Pacquiao began backing out of the fight because he didn’t want to submit to olympic-style drug testing. Manny’s promoter, Bob Arum, then went on a verbal assault trying to come up with every possible angle to spin the reason for why Pacquiao is backing out. Pacman is even going on the offensive now, saying he’s going to sue for defamation over the allegations. In the meantime (and this is my favorite part of the story), Arum says he’s in the process of arranging a fight with Paulie Malignaggi for the same March 13th date. This is the same Paulie Malignaggi who ALSO accused Pacquiao of using PEDs:

The level we have of testing in boxing is not really that deep. I mean, we have urine tests on the day of the fight and we don’t have much else…there’s things that don’t come up in drug tests. There’s ways to beat drug tests.

Manny Pacquiao is the first guy in history, and he might be the special thing that everybody says he is, he might be, the first guy in history to go up in weight and knock out more people as he goes up in weight than he did when he was smaller. He might be that special person. Me, I think that looks a little fishy. I think that’s a little bit fishy.

So let me get this straight, it’s fine to accuse Manny Pacquiao of using steroids or performance-enhancers so long as you don’t demand he submits to strict drug testing? Good, just wanted to make sure I had that straight. This should put an end to the debates about Pacquiao and Arum’s motive. Manny complaining that having his blood drawn will sap him of his power is like one of those people who claim they can levitate so long as nobody is watching. Uh huh. The onus is on Pacquiao here and he should submit to Olympic-style testing if he has nothing to hide. End of story.