By Jake Donovan
The November 23 pay-per-view showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios in Macau marks the third major show promoted by Top Rank to feature the involvement of Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) in its random drug testing protocol.
The event marks the first time Pacquiao has subjected himself to random drug testing prior to a fight. The subject was a major issue when talks first surfaced years ago of the possibility of the Filipino superstar facing Floyd Mayweather back when both were considered far and away the best two active fighters in the world.
Contradicting reports managed to surface as to the reasons for Pacquiao’s team previous reluctance–and at times, refusal–to subject the fighter to such testing. The issue once again made headlines thanks to false allegations made that Rios has been the only one tested so far and that Pacquiao wouldn’t be tested until he arrives in China in early November.
The claims were further perpetrated by Alex Ariza, Pacquiao’s former strength and conditioning coach who is now in the opposite corner, working with Rios for this upcoming event.
When asked directly on the subject, Pacquiao refuted such claims.
“I was tested twice (so far),” Pacquiao confirmed during a recent conference call. “There is no problem with the testing.”
Top Rank was noncommittal to the subject of stricter drug policies in the past but has since taken a more pronounced stance. The Las Vegas-based promotional outfit has used VADA for Tim Bradley’s off-the-canvas points win over Ruslan Provodnikov in their Fight of the Year frontrunner this past March, as well as for Guillermo Rigondeaux’ upset win over Nonito Donaire in April.
“I selected VADA for this fight,” Arum clarified on a question that was also directed towards Pacquiao. “Both fighters said they’d welcome drug testing. This fight is not the usual situation. The fight is taking place outside of the country. I needed a testing agency that can handle testing outside the country since Manny was training in the Philippines. They’ve collected twice, I think one (representative) came from Germany to collect.
“The only other alternative I had was that other organization which I don’t care for.”
That other agency, of course, would be United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), who has been the organization of choice for all of Mayweather’s fights since 2010, as well as for many events held by Golden Boy Promotions. USADA gained a lot of press prior to Mayweather’s fight with Shane Mosley, which became Plan B after negotiations with Pacquiao fell apart.
Nearly four years later, a fight with Mayweather isn’t any closer–or even seriously discussed these days. However, Pacquiao’s stance on random drug testing is now greater defined.
“Testing is fine and I’m happy to do that,” Pacquiao declared. “I’m fine with random testing. It’s good for boxing.”
The bout with Rios marks Pacquiao’s first piece of ring action since a shocking one-punch knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in their epic fourth fight last December. Rios enters the November 23 showdown on the heels of a points loss to Mike Alvarado in their rematch this past March.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox