Well this has been without a doubt a whirlwind month in my world of boxing!
I was all set to begin writing about the emergence of what I had hoped would be a new heavyweight champion of the world a couple of weeks ago when I traveled to Cologne, Germany to be in the corner of then undefeated number one contender Odlanier Solis as he faced Vitali Klitschko for the WBC crown. Sadly, 3 minutes into the fight and a blown knee later, that dream came to an abrupt halt.
Next,I began preparing my new text as Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa demolished Jorge Solis (no relation to Odlanier) in 4 thrilling rounds in which the "Guantanamo Cyclone" produced no less than 5 knockdowns along the way. What took Manny Pacquiao 8 rounds to do in a competitive contest, Gamboa did in 4 one-sided rounds.
That would be the blog for this week. No sooner was I about to write my blog on Gamboa, something even more extraordinary happened to grab my attention, and for that matter everyone's attention.
This past Monday a news conference was held in Montreal to officially announce the upcoming May 21st rematch between defending WBC World Light-Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal and challenger Bernard Hopkins. In what started out as your usual press conference with both fighters taking verbal jabs at one another, things turned ugly when a Pascal fan yelled out that Hopkins should take a blood test. That was all that Pascal needed as he began bantering Hopkins and repeating again and again "Will you take the test Bernard?"
Hopkins was clearly becoming more and more agitated, to the point where he completely lost his cool and shoved Pascal with both hands. Things culminated with both men being separated and a semblance of order restored.
To view the Montreal press conference click here: http://www.tsn.ca/boxing/story/?id=359861
That night both camps departed for New York for the second and final presser to start the campaign. The next day at Planet Hollywood in New York, the two combatants came face to face once again. Hopkins was still clearly upset as he continued to verbally attack Pascal. Using street profanity which I cannot repeat here, Hopkins made reference to Pascal's sexual preference and even referred to Pascal as a "cat".
Sadly, this would all pale in comparison to what Hopkins would go on to say as he addressed the New York media.
"Don't be surprised if he (Pascal) dies in that ring, in May!"
With those words, a loud silence followed, as those in attendance could not believe what they had just heard.
Hopkins once again reiterated his remarks by saying "Don't be surprised if I kill him!"
Whatever respect I once had, and everyone knows I had a ton of it for Bernard, went down the toilet with those remarks. I am at a loss to think of a time when I have been more disgusted!
For what it's worth, let me offer up my thoughts on this whole episode.
While Jean Pascal may have been somewhat outlandish and verbose towards Hopkins as it pertained to the allegations of doping, Pascal has brought to attention the flaws which exist in all sports as far as doping goes.
There was a time when doping scandals occurred only every 4 years at an Olympic Games, and it was far removed from the world of professional sport. Sadly, that is no longer the case.
In 1988 Ben Johnson became the scapegoat and was hung and quartered by all the accusers. Gold medal, record and dignity gone, Johnson's fate was far more severe than what was offered up to other admitted and proven cheats such as Carl Lewis.
Since then, and sadly, every sport has seen the infiltration of doping including baseball, once considered the most pristine of all sports.
Boxing suffered its own indignation when Shane Mosely admitted to "using". Yet why was his decision win over de la Hoya not changed to a "no-contest"?
No sport is immune to it.
Unfortunately, we have reached an era where doping is a clear and factual reality of our day to day sporting lives. We can no longer bury our heads in the sand and ignore what is happening around us.
In all sports, the time has come, where the rules must reflect the reality of the sporting world in which we live.
Mayweather has made repeated accusations regarding doping towards Manny Pacquiao. Jean Pascal feels the same way about Hopkins. Manny and Hopkins are fighters who are larger than the sport, both could have played a monumental role in propelling the sport into the future, by voluntarily proving that they have nothing to hide.
Both chose not to!