By Jake Donovan
Rather than opting to walk sideways on the issue, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum decided to tackle questions surrounding the addition to Juan Manuel Marquez’ training camp, former steroid distributor Angel Hernandez (nee Angel “Memo” Heredia).
“It would behoove the press to stop dealing in generalities,” Arum said of the current headlining-making association, which he believes isn’t an issue. “I believe that fighters are free to hire whomever they want.”
The question came up during a Manny Pacquiao conference call to further promote their November 12 pay-per-view headliner at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is already sold out at the box office. They fought to a draw in their first fight more than seven years ago, and Pacquiao barely edged Marquez in a disputed split decision in March ’08.
Marquez went on to capture the lightweight championship with a rousing 10th round knockout of Joel Casamayor and has also scored thrilling knockouts over Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis over the course of his three-year reign as lineal champion.
The one loss he has suffered over that stretch came in an ill-prepared move to welterweight to face returning Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2009. Marquez was of the belief that the fight would take place at a catchweight, only for Mayweather to change the rules and the terms of the original contract just days before the fight. Marquez added nine pounds to his frame, very little of which was muscle and suffered a humiliating one-sided defeat.
When terms were agreed to for a long awaited third fight with Pacquiao, the Marquez camp unanimously agreed that there needed to be a better approach towards making the 144 lb. catchweight in place. From that came the decision to bring in Hernandez as a strength/conditioning coach.
The immediate results are stunning, as Marquez has added a considerable amount of muscle. Unfortunately for the clean-cut future Hall of Famer, the changes have asked questions of the company he keeps, given Hernandez’ checkered past while still known as Angel Heredia, including his role as a cooperator in the 2008 trial that named many, many names.
Arum isn’t too concerned over it, taking into consideration the fighter’s credibility. Marquez is often viewed as among the most humble warriors in the game –and in any sport in general – and Top Rank refuses to buy into conspiracy theories that have recently surfaced.
In fact, the soon-to-be-80-year-old promoter believes the opposite to be true, that his and other’s checkered past only casts a brighter light on the subject and less wiggle room to rig the results.
“There was a time when guys like (BALCO co-founder) Victor Conte and Heredia dealt with steroids, but that was a long time ago,” Arum insists. “These guys now know that you can achieve the same results without steroids. The idea that they would still be dealing with steroids makes no sense. Conte went to jail and this guy (Heredia) testified on the subject.”
What he believes Hernandez now brings to the table is new methods of training not before implemented by the Marquez, which explains the results that have been evident through photos and HBO’s 24/7 footage.
“They are using natural, totally legal supplements and state of the art training methods,” Arum states. “Steroids as we know it are slowly fading into a thing of the past.”
When asked on the subject, Pacquiao had no comment and didn’t seem particularly concerned. Trainer Freddie Roach didn’t speak much on the issue, other than commenting that Marquez might’ve added too much muscle, which would only hurt his chances rather than help next week.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com.