By Michael Rosenthal
Canelo Alvarez’s positive drug test: Enough is enough.
Alvarez tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol, which the fighter blames on contaminated meat he consumed in Mexico. And, indeed, a doping official confirmed that “these values are all within the range of what is expected from meat contamination.”
That shouldn’t matter.
I’ll be as clear as possible: The fighter is responsible for what goes into his body, whether intentional or unintentional. Period. After all, the main purpose of drug testing is to prevent one fighter from gaining a competitive edge over another. And it can be argued that Alvarez gained a competitive edge, however slight.
Gennady Golovkin, who is scheduled to face Alvarez in a much-anticipated rematch on May 5, used the word “outrageous” to describe his opponent’s failed test. And one could argue he is absolutely right.
Alvarez might’ve violated regulations inadvertently, as he claims. That’s not a good excuse, though.
Here’s a thought: Take all precautions to avoid consuming questionable meat. Don’t eat beef? Buy organic beef, assuming it’s available in Mexico? Ship it from the U.S.? The 2014 Mexican World Cup soccer team reportedly avoided beef consumption after 100 junior players tested positive for clenbuterol in 2011.
This isn’t rocket science, people. Alvarez and his handlers should have known better, which is why some suspect that Alvarez and Co. aren’t as innocent as they let on.
Other boxers have tested positive for a similar amount of clenbuterol and were then allowed to fight, as regulators are trying to reasonable. Alvarez will be allowed to fight, too. And as angry as Triple-G might be, he won’t pull out of the event because of its magnitude.
I would be inclined to allow the fight to go on, too, particularly because Alvarez has passed subsequent tests and recent precedent dictates leniency. But the powers that be must take advantage of this high-profile opportunity to make a strong statement to Alvarez and other fighters.
I would hit Alvarez with a fine that hurts even a wealthy man, one that would say loudly and clearly: “Enough is enough. For the sake of the sport and to protect fighters, we as a boxing community are no longer going to accept “accidental” doping violations.
Regulators must begin the process of drawing a red line.
Mikey Garcia: I think we’re starting to take Garcia for granted. Titles in four divisions? Yawwwwn. No big deal for Garcia. Well, it is a big deal.
Garcia (38-0, 30 knockouts) defeated kickboxer-turned-boxer Sergey Lipinets (13-1, 10 KOs) by a unanimous decision to take Lipinets’ IBF junior welterweight title in an entertaining fight Saturday in San Antoinio. Garcia, 30, joins Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez as the only fighters to win major titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds.
Not bad company.
Lipinets, who had won the title by outpointing Akihiro Kondo in his previous fight, isn’t a threat to crack anyone’s pound-for-pound Top 10 but the rugged Kazakhstani would be a pushover for no one. Garcia won handily on the cards – 116-111, 117-110 and 117-110 – but he had to work hard for his new belt.
And more work lies ahead. Garcia is creeping up on hall of fame credentials if he’s not already there. Greatness is farther down the road.
I think his unusual all-around ability makes him a candidate for such accolades but one thing is missing: A defining victory or two over truly special opponents. The overall caliber of his victims – which is more important than the sanctioning-body belts – is very good, not spectacular.
Defining opponents are within reach, though. The most obvious at the moment are 130-pound titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko, who could meet Garcia at 135, and lightweight champ Jorge Linares. Perhaps Garcia could face the winner if Lomachenko and Linares meet. And the best at 147 pounds are options for the near future, although Garcia should make that move only when his body is ready.
He seemed to layout his immediate future immediately after his victory Saturday.
“I have a lot of options,” said Garcia, who still holds the WBC lightweight title. “I could come back down to 135 and unify the titles, which is what I would really, really love to do. Then I would move up to 140 and unify those titles. Then possibly go up to 147. So two or three more fights you're going to see me at welterweight for sure.”
Let’s hope the best-possible opponents work their way into the picture. We all want to see how good Mikey Garcia truly is.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Regis Prograis: The objective of all fighters who hope to become stars is to do something out of the ordinary. Prograis did just that against Julius Indongo on Saturday in Deadwood, South Dakota.
I wish Prograis had been able to fight Viktor Postol, who pulled out because of an injury. Postol would’ve been a stiffer test. That said, Indongo was only one fight removed from back-to-back wipeouts over Eduard Troyanovsky and Ricky Burns, which were followed by a third-round knockout loss against otherworldly Terence Crawford.
Indeed, the Namibian was a step up in opposition. And Prograis destroyed him in less than two rounds.
The 29-year-old New Orleans native put Indongo down four times, three times in the second round to finish the kind of performance that captures the imagination of those who witnessed it.
In the process, Prograis demonstrated again that he has the skills (in spite of a late start), speed and power required to succeed on a high level. I was also struck by his fire and the viciousness with which he took Indongo out, which was particularly dramatic.
All in all, it’s hard to find a weakness in Prograis. Of course, his biggest challenges lie ahead.
The victory on Saturday sets up a meeting with the winner of the March 17 fight between Amir Imam and Jose Ramirez for the WBC 140-pound title vacated by Crawford last year. I like Imam and Ramirez, both former amateur stars, but I don’t know whether they can match Prograis in overall ability.
And if what Prograis says is true, we haven’t seen the best of him yet.
“I haven’t been able to show my full arsenal yet, as far as my defense, as far as my footwork,” he said. “I didn’t do it yet because I haven’t had an opponent that can bring it out of me.”
That might not bode well for the other junior welterweights.
WBO featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) was another big winner on a rainy Saturday in Carson, California,, where he defeated talented and overweight Scott Quigg by a one-sided unanimous decision in a brutal brawl. I still think of Valdez as a fierce warrior with limitations in his overall game but a victory over a fighter of Quigg’s ability was a nice step in his career. Quigg (34-2-2, 25 KOs) failed to make the 126-pound limit by a whopping 2.8 pounds, for which he lost the opportunity to fight for the title and a great deal of money. The Englishman also had to endure harsh criticism, which he deserved. That said, his gutsy performance probably earned him sympathy. … Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19 KOs) made a loud statement by outpointing then-unbeaten Rances Barthelemy (26-1, 13 KOs) in a rematch of their controversial first fight to win the vacant WBA 140-pound title on Garcia-Lipinets card. Relikh’s career was in the balance, as he had lost back-to-back decisions to Ricky Burns and Barthelemy in 2016 and last year. The Belarusian said he wasn’t properly prepared for his first meeting with Barthelemy. He certainly was the second time. … Indongo (22-2, 11 KOs) appears to be a one-hit wonder. He caused an international stir with his first-round knockout of Troyanovski in 2016 but survived less than a combined five rounds against Crawford and Prograis. There is no shame in losing to such talented fighters but Indongo put up little resistance. We might never see him again at the elite level. … Argentine junior middleweight Brian Carlos Castano (15-0, 11 KOs) remains one to watch after he followed his upset victory over Michel Soro with a 12th-round TKO of veteran Cedric Vitu (46-3, 19 KOs) on Saturday in France. … “Bantamweight” Luis Nery has been banned for life in Japan after missing weight by five pounds before knocking out Shinsuke Yamanaka in their rematch March 1 in Tokyo. That seems like harsh punishment but more governing bodies should make such bold statements.