By Lem Satterfield
Trainer Naazim Richardson spoke to BoxingScene.com regarding his role in the corner of three-division, five-time champion, Shane Mosley, during his quest to dethrone eight-division king Manny Pacquiao as WBO welterweight titlist on May 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Richardson also weighed in on Bernard Hopkins' notion that Pacquiao has not faced a top notch African American fighter, in addition to the fact that Pacquiao and Mosley have been associated with performance enhancing drugs in boxing.
Promoted by Top Rank Promotions, the 32-year-old Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 knockouts) works with five-time Trainer of The Year, Freddie Roach, and will be after his 14th straight win and his ninth stoppage during that run when he meets the 39-year-old Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) in a CBS-Showtime pay per view televised match up.
But Richardson is an excellent trainer in his own right, having been the man who helped to orchestrate Mosley's January, 2009, ninth-round knockout that dethroned Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) as WBA welterweight champion by stopping the fighter for the first time in his career.
Richardson also has aided 46-year-old, two-division champion and former undisputed middleweight king Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs), perhaps most notably when Hopkins handed the first loss to former WBC and WBO middleweight king Kelly Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs) by decision in October of 2008.
In December, Hopkins battled to a disputed draw against WBC light heavyweight belt-holder, Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs), with whom Hopkins has a May 21 rematch.
Former world champion, Fernando Vargas (26-5, 22 KOs) once tested positive for stanozozol following his 11th-round knockout loss to Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas in September 2002.
Having been suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for nine months and paying a $100,000 fine after the stanozolol turned up in a post-fight urinalysis, Vargas favors Olympic style drug testing, which involves blood and urine, whereas boxing's current protocol involves only testing urine for illegal drugs.
Vargas noted a lucrative bout between Pacquiao and six-time titlist Floyd Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) twice reached a negotiations impasse over the notion of Olympic style drug testing, which, for the firt time in the sport's history, was insituted for both fighters prior to Mayweather's unanimous decision over Mosley in May of 2010.
In 2003, Mosley admitted to injecting the steroids, "the cream," and, "the clear," but says that he did so unknowingly after having been supplied the drugs by BALCO founder Victor Conte through a relationship with his former strength trainer, Daryl Hudson.
BoxingScene.com: Does the prospect of facing Freddie Roach in a clash of trainers get your juices flowing?
Nazim Richardson: I've got to be totally honest with you, Lem. That's not a factor for me whatsoever. Manny Pacquiao commands enough attention that I can't be focused on me and Freddie.
Me and Freddie are not fighting. That's two different weight classes any way [Laughs.] You know, Manny demands so much attention that you can't be focused on any sidebars. You can't be focused on anything but Manny.
I'm aware of Freddie Roach and his work and what he's done. I'm a fan of boxing and I'm aware of the level that he's been working on for so many years. But that doesn't have anything to do with me.
This fight, you know, it's about the athletes. It's about me having my guy prepared for that night.
BoxingScene.com: Why is this a good promotion for the sport?
Nazim Richardson: Well, Manny Pacquiao is a monster, and you have to like him if you like boxing, because he's good for boxing. He's absolutely good for boxing.
Manny Pacquiao's to the personality, he has the conduct, and he does the things in the ring that you want to see. So, if you don't like Manny Pacquiao, then you don't like boxing.
I could say the same thing about Shane Mosley. These guys are good for boxing. They're good for the young kids who watch the sport, and they're good for the young kids who are going to be the future of the sport.
I think this is a good platform for them.
BoxingScene.com: Do you expect much to be made of the battle of corners during the promotion of the fight?
Nazim Richardson: I know that some people are going to focus on that, but those things take care of themselves. We go out and we fight the fights.
After that, you know, people in the promotion and people who are more creative than I will go out and put together how it was done and provide their view on what my role has been.
But my thing is that right now, Shane Mosley is in a position to put himself back into a place where he feels that he belongs and into a place where those of us who are close to him feels that he belongs.
That's what he is trying to do and that's what he feels that he has to do.
BoxingScene.com: What is your take on the fact that Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley's names continue to be associated with the subject of performance enhancing drugs and steroid testing?
Nazim Richardson: I don't address those issues. I went through a lot of that when my fighters were amateurs. It's just irritating. It bogs you down.
They can call for drug testing with these two if they want to, but I'm not going to make any accusations about Manny Pacquiao because I don't have any evidence to hold forth on it.
I wouldn't do that to any man. Maybe I don't do it because of the way that I look. When I came up, people would walk up and say, 'He's mean,' and they knew nothing about me.
But I was a big black man with hair on his face and a bald head. So there's a certain stigma to it. I'm not going to demean any man out there who puts on a great performance by attaching that kind of stigma to it.
There's families on the line. I wouldn't say something like that about an athlete unless there is something to base it on.
BoxingScene.com: Do you think that the stigma of having to be drug tested played on Shane Mosley during his performance against Floyd Mayweather?
Nazim Richardson: We didn't have that particular discussion, but an athlete has to do what he has to do to get to where they want to.
Sometimes they have to whistle to get through the graveyard, and you know, everybody is going to find what they need to push them to where they need to be.
But Shane Mosley is not just an excellent athlete, but an outstanding human being.
BoxingScene.com: What is your take on Bernard Hopkins' assertion that Manny Pacquiao has not faced a top notch African American fighter?
Nazim Richardson: Listen, I'm not interested in that myself. The facts speak for themselves. Would you say Lennox Lewis never fought a southpaw?
Well, you go back and you look at the record, and you can find out if he ever fought a southpaw and you can go from there. But I have told you all of this before.
Fighters at the elite level didn't get there by accident. Fighters that reach the elite level didn't stumble across their talent. Fighters that constantly perform didn't stumble across their accomplishments.
BoxingScene.com: Have you spoken to Bernard Hopkins to determine what he means?
Nazim Richardson: The man is a complex individual and he's strategic in all of the things that he does and says. I would have to ask him what he was implying.
I would have to do that because that's an observation that he may see as a particular way to attack from or a platform to build up from.
That's his opinion, and I greatly respect his opinion because of what he has accomplished, but that's still Bernard's opinion.
BoxingScene.com: Do you see any truth to the notion that Manny Pacquiao may have chosen to face Shane Mosley because Mosley has aged and was exposed by Floyd Mayweather?
Nazim Richardson: You have two guys who will fight their hearts out with that gladiator mentality. That's been proven in their history. There is a great deal of history behind both of these athletes.
This is going to be an interesting match up and an entertaining fight. Manny is probably under a little bit more pressure in the sense that people are saying that Shane didn't earn this particular spot that he's in.
People are saying that, for Manny, this should probably be a walk in the park. But there are going to be constant comparisons to this other guy, and I'm not going to say the other guy's name.
But there will be constant comparisons to this and to that.
BoxingScene.com: Do you mean Floyd Mayweather?
Nazim Richardson: Well, let's just say that there's always a bully in the neighborhood, but there's always going to be a guy that he's afraid of.
If he doesn't fight that dude, then somebody else fights that dude, and then, the bully beats that guy. They can say, 'Well, you know what would have happened if I would have fought that dude.'
BoxingScene.com: Do you buy the assertion by Bernard Hopkins that 'When Shane Mosley wins, everybody is going to say that Floyd Mayweather would have beaten Manny.'
Nazim Richardson: Everybody's going to assume, but then, I'll say, 'Let's go back to the records.' When you saw Miguel Cotto beat Shane, and then you saw Antonio Margarito beat Miguel Cotto, then everybody thought Antonio Margarito was going to beat Shane.
But then you saw what happened. Now, you saw Vernon Forrest beat Shane, and you saw Ricardo Mayorga beat Vernon, and then, everybody thought Mayorga was going to beat Shane, but you saw that Shane knocked out Mayorga.
So we've seen it a hundred times in boxing, and we're going to see it more. You're going to see Andre Berto struggle with Juan Urango, and then, you're going to see Devon Alexander go in there and crank Urango out of there.
Not just beat him, but crank him out of there. Does that mean that Devon Alexander can beat Andre Berto automatically? There's a question, but that's why we fight the fights. So, that's just boxing.