By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Orlando Salido reluctantly posed alongside Mikey Garcia for a picture after the final press conference Thursday to promote their fight Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Garcia never thought twice about boxing Salido, despite that Salido has tested positive for a steroid during his career and there wasn’t any random, pre-fight testing for performance-enhancing drugs prior to their 12-round fight for Salido’s WBO featherweight title (9:45 p.m. EDT; HBO).
“I’m not afraid of Salido,” Garcia said. “I feel that he did everything the right way. He learned from that a few years back, when he had tested positive for some illegal substance. He did his work and I did my work, and you’ll see it on Saturday night. I never worried about it. He won’t do anything to get caught up in a big scandal. He got caught up in something [in November 2006] and that’s it.”
Mexico’s Salido tested positive for a steroid after defeating Robert Guerrero in a 12-rounder for Guerrero’s IBF featherweight title six years ago in Las Vegas. Salido won the bout by unanimous decision, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission changed the official result to a no-contest when Salido’s post-fight test turned up dirty.
Salido protested the positive test for Nandrolone and reportedly underwent a subsequent exam administered by LabCorp, an independent testing company.
He tested negative, according to LabCorp, but the final result remained a no-contest. Salido also was suspended for six months by the NSAC for the positive test.
The 25-year-old Garcia (30-0, 26 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., basically absolved Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs, 1 NC) of wrongdoing, yet emphasized that fighters must be extremely careful when working with nutritionists and strength and conditioning coaches. Garcia has heeded his own advice while working for the Salido fight with Darryl Hudson, who was Shane Mosley’s strength and conditioning coach when Mosley admitted using “the cream” and “the clear” prior to his second fight against Oscar De La Hoya in September 2003.
“I believe sometimes athletes don’t even know what they’re taking,” Garcia said. “They get these nutritionists to help them out and dieticians and strength and conditioning coaches, and they don’t know what they’re taking. They give you a big pile of pills and powder mixes, and you don’t even know what you’re taking. You take shots, vitamin shots or whatever, and you don’t know what it is.
“You trust them, that they’re doing their job, but they might be using something that you don’t even know. You leave them in charge and some athletes don’t even know what they’re taking. Until they test positive, then it becomes a big surprise or a big issue, but I’m not worried about that.”
While he isn’t overly concerned with Salido’s steroids history, Garcia hopes the day will arrive soon when every boxer is subjected to pre-fight, random testing for PEDs. And if some of the cost of dealing with such expensive services as the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) or the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) partially comes from his purse, Garcia would welcome contributing in an effort to make all fights fair.
“If everybody were to agree, the promoters and the sanctioning bodies, and if the state commissions were to demand everybody do mandatory drug testing for everybody, I would be for that right away,” Garcia said. “It does cost money. The promoters and the commissions need to figure out a way to get it and to cover that expense, but I’m sure most fighters would agree that it’s the best thing to do.
“All you’ve got to do is take a little less from what [promoters and commissions] usually get, share that with the fighters and go ahead and do the testing. I would be for that, too. I’m not on anything, so I would hope my opponents aren’t on anything, either. If that costs me a little bit out of my purse to do that, I would do that. It has to be fair.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.