How Could Anyone Accuse Manny Pacquiao of Being A Cheat or a Fraud?

Herman VirkContributor IFebruary 17, 2010

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Ever since the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight was cancelled, there has been a considerable amount of speculation on why negotiations stumbled at the final hurdle. 

Is the debate really necessary? The facts are clear, the two camps were unable to come to an agreement regarding drug testing leading up to the fight. This has however produced much conjecture along with numerous conspiracy theories.

Two main schools of thoughts (propaganda) have emerged; the Floyd Mayweather supporters believe Pacquiao is avoiding drug testing because he is guilty of malfeasance; and the Manny Pacquiao supporters believe that Mayweather is ‘scared’ and drug testing was just a ‘get-out’.

So which school of thought do I pertain to? Well contrary to what many may think, I neither believe Pacquiao is a drug user, or that Mayweather is scared to fight him. 

My belief is that Mayweather’s suspicions are justified, eventhough I believe Manny is completely clean. I also understand why people would think Mayweather is ducking the fight, he does not want to lose his prestigious 0 and Manny provides a huge risk and threat to his immaculate record.


The Muscle Myth

Questions of whether Pacquiao is using some type Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) have surfaced as a result of Pacquiao managing to remain lean yet move up 15lbs. Suspicions have been raised by many professional boxers such as Kermit Cintron and Paulie Malignaggi about the legitimacy of Pacquiao's move up in weight. Although, looking at the weigh-ins depicted above (top row, right to left: 129lbs, 130lbs, 135lbs; bottom row, right to left: 140lbs, 142lbs, 144lbs) Manny was far more cut at the lower weights, his cheekbones were more predominant and his abdomen more pronounced as his body fat percentage was lower, suggesting his increase in weight has not just been an increase in lean muscle.

This may not satisfy the harshest of skeptics, who would mention that he has still gained close to 10lbs of muscle in an 18 month period. Pacquiao would simply have us believe he has done it through hard work, diet and an intense training program set out by his conditioning coach Alex Ariza. Ariza's influence is important; he joined Freddie Roach (Pacquiao's Trainer) and his staff 24months ago, Ariza of colombian descent possesses a medical degree and subsequently has a very scientific approach to both nutrition and training and has been key in Manny making the climb up to welterweight.

So why have so many questioned Pacquiao's move up the divisions? The performance of Pacquiao's featherweight rival Juan Manuel Marquez at the welterweight limit was poor by comparison, but Marquez's performance should be taken in to context as Manny’s first fight at 147lbs was against a drained middleweight (Oscar De la Hoya) and Marquez took on possibly the strongest fighter in the division (Floyd Mayweather). Manny has definitely grown into the division, the Manny Pacquiao that defeated Oscar De la Hoya is not as big or as strong as the Manny Pacquiao that beat Miguel Cotto. 

It has been reported with every 1lb of lean muscle you gain you will gain 0.3lb of fat. So when Pacquiao weighed 142lbs against De la Hoya, 5lbs was likely to be lean muscle and 2lbs was probably fat. According to weightlifting experts it is possible to gain 10-15lbs of lean muscle in a six week period with the right supplements and diet. Pacquiao weighed 144lbs against Cotto, meaning in three years he probably gained 6.5lbs of lean muscle (2.5lbs of fat) not much considering the possibilities. Against Clottey expect Pacquiao to weigh 146-147lbs, increasing his tally to 8-9lbs of lean muscle (2-3lbs of fat). The main thing that Pacquiao has done is maintaining his weight between fights, that has probably been harder than putting the initial muscle on. This is essentially why Freddie Roach has tried to keep Pacquiao active, to avoid him losing his muscle density. The biggest Pacquiao will be to date is potentially against Mayweather/Mosley I think by then he will have filled into the welterweight limit and will be a genuine welterweight. There is a strong possibility that Pacquiao may retire after that fight which would be a huge shame, if Andre Berto is still undefeated come that time it would be great unification opportunity.

A lot of people have dismissed arguments made about Pacquiao’s ‘fight night’ weights at superfeather and lightweight. Nevertheless I think they provide good insight into Pacquiao's ability to gain the weight necessary for welterweight as well as how gaining excessive amounts of weight between the weigh in and the fight can often slow a fighter down. At welterweight Manny no longer needs to do this as he makes the weight comfortably emphasizing why he may be perceived as faster and stronger, and his ring weight at the lower weights would also indicate that he is used to fighting close to the welterweight limit, therefore the increase in weight has not had a negative affect on his work-rate.

Against Morales in 2005 at 130lbs Pacquiao weighed in on the night at 140lbs, in 2008 against Marquez the fight was also at 130lbs and Pacquiao weighed in at 145lbs on the night. He struggled against Marquez most probably because he had to kill himself to make the weight and his work-rate did not live up to his usual high standards and he was more easily hurt. I think gaining 15lbs in the space of a day had a lot to do with that. As a result Pacquiao moved up to 135lbs when he fought David Diaz later that year (weighing in at 147lbs on the night), fighting at a higher weight lead to Pacquiao destroying Diaz and his work-rate was as high as it had been for a while, looking as quick as ever. Against De la Hoya it was a similar story he weighed in on the scales at 142lbs and on the night was 149lbs.


Manny may put it simply, but Manny is simple 

Manny may have chosen to put his move to welterweight in simple terms but that does not mean it has been all that effortless. Manny has fought 3 fights in the last 18 months and Freddie Roach has tried to keep his fighter active, because any considerable amount of inactivity would result in loss of muscle.

Some may wonder how Manny’s work-rate has increased or how he as been able to maintain his speed and power. I think there is a clear explanation, having to commit to making weight takes its toll on the body, because Manny is no longer concerned with making the weight he goes in stronger and does not have to obsess with hydrating between the weigh-in and fight. As a result he is stronger and better for it.

As far as his effectiveness against better opponents, it is subjective. How great has Manny been against welters so far? Oscar De la Hoya clearly fought for the money, dropped an unexplainable amount of weight and suffered as a result. Hatton recently revealed how bad his training camp had been and how he peaked weeks before the fight and went in looking for a big punch to end the fight early, and after the first knockdown it was clear the fight would not last very long. Then there is Miguel Cotto, the catch-weight played its part. However, I do not think this is the same Cotto that fought Mosley, in fact Freddie Roach revealed he thought Cotto had lost the tuning he had developed during that period. Cotto also had a short turnover between his fight with Clottey (which was a tough fight) and the Pacquiao fight. Yet I do not think Cotto was all that bad against Pacquiao. His tactics were amateur, he had suffered two knockdowns so he was heavily behind on the judges scorecards, you cannot win a fight on the back foot once you are behind, you have to come forward. It looked like a guy in survival mode from the 4th round onwards.

So Manny has not really destroyed an opponent who was not questionable or excusable, in saying that Cotto was his truest test, whom he really dominated and there is no doubt the victory against Cotto shocked more people than any of the others. The manner of victory is what raised the many eyebrows, Cotto one of the strongest welterweights was dominated by a ‘smaller’ guy and nobody could have predicted that. The knockdowns against Cotto came from accurate shots with speed.


Ignorance is bliss.

Freddy Roach has picked fighters well, very well. Looking at the Pacquiao’s last opponents, Mayweather is a skill level above. Pacquiao never fought guys like Joan Guzman, who would have given a better idea of how well Pacquiao would fare against a slick boxer. Maybe because of Mayweather's increasing age, lack of activity, the fact he has not fought a quick/ southpaw boxer in some time and his fragility are all reasons why Roach may think they have a better chance of victory (money also talks). Pacquiao’s fans are urging him to take the fight, his confidence is high so he thinks he can win and the money is almost impossible to turn down, but it is a strange choice considering the type of opponent Pacquiao has fought in his career. Mayweather’s fight against Mosley will be a good tester against speed and power, as far as the southpaw stance, he can use sparring for that. There is no doubt when that fight eventually comes around, and if (and that is a big ‘if’) Mayweather defeats Mosley he will be in a far better position going into the Pacquiao fight, having fought a fighter who likes to fight on the front foot and possesses speed and power. Whereas Clottey bares little resemblance to Mayweather.

The truth is it is hard to say if either camp wants the fight or whether they are just being forced by fans and media because they are two of the best fighters in boxing (maybe in boxing history). It is a super fight in every sense, I believe Pacquiao has little or no control over the guys he fights, he leaves that to Freddie Roach and Bob Arum and we know the type of fighters they pick. The last time Pacquiao was pressured into fighting a fighter by fans and media was against Juan Manuel Marquez the eagerly anticipate rematch and we all know what happened there, people wanted Manny to prove he clearly won the first fight by winning emphatically but he struggled to a controversial points decision. As for Mayweather the first fight he is being forced into is Mosley, fans and media have wanted to see this fight and Mayweather has reluctantly obliged. If the fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao is made it has nothing to do with coaches, promoters, fighters, it is to do with the fans (the fighters will be compensated accordingly). The fighters are both sick of hearing each others names, and they know the only way to end the questions is to get in the ring.

The more fights Mayweather gets under his belt the less Roach will favor the fight, Roach knows that an active sharp Mayweather is not the type of fighter he would like to couple with Pacquiao. I honestly think if the fight does not go ahead after the Clottey and Mosley fights it will never happen and contrary to any reports I think it will because Mayweather will be to big of a risk if he beats Mosley comprehensively although Pacquiao’s camp will feed a 1000 stories of how Mayweather's terms were unreasonable I am positive that it will be Pacquiao’s camp that pulls the plug (Not Pacquiao, who definitely wants the fight ‘ignorance is bliss’). Although, Pacquiao expressing his desire to retire would always attempt taking the risk, because Arum and Roach stand to lose very little if Pacquaio were to retire after the fight (with Mayweather), but the [Monetary] gain would be huge and it would not be something worth passing up for Arum as it would be a last pay day from the 'cash cow' that is Manny Pacquiao.

I could never genuinely accuse Manny of ducking opponents like some have, because I believe Manny would fight anyone, that is why he has come out and said, I will fight Floyd. Pacquiao's advisors, Roach, Arum and co. are the people that pick and duck fighters, Manny does not “I’m just doing my job”. Manny’s advisors do not really want the fight, Arum was the first to come out publicly and say the fight was not happening whilst Leonard Ellerbe and Richard Schaefar were still trying to negotiate the fight. I think in all of this Manny is the most innocent guy, there is no way Manny would take drugs with his own knowledge. If he was to test positive I am sure it would not be as a result of him knowing, he really is that clueless. It is this lack of awareness that leads to his confidence, he really thinks he will beat anyone even Floyd, but his advisors are the ones with doubts. 

Manny thinks he could beat any fighter, he will fight anyone, but there is a mould of fighter that suits him and in general he has stuck to that style of opponent without his knowledge when he has been forced out of his comfort zone he has struggled and fighting Floyd would do just that. In Manny’s mind he does not need to cheat, he beats everyone in his mind, he has never ducked an opponent in his mind. The people who are most concerned about the allegations Roach, Ariza, Arum people who know Manny can be beaten, who know they have avoided certain styles, the guys who know if Manny has ever taken any kind of PED. I am sure if they would have told Manny to take the tests he would have but instead panic ensued, an outright refusal was the result and threats of legal action for slander, which all seemed like an overreaction. 

There is no coincidence that when Shane Mosley tried to discuss a possible fight [against Pacquiao] with Freddie Roach, Freddie told him he would have to drop to 144. A weight that Mosley at 38 could not possibly make without giving himself a major disadvantage and when Shane stated the fact they fought De la Hoya at 147, Roach told him simply “you’re better than De la Hoya, it’s too risky”. If we look at Pacquiao’s last ten opponents we can see clearly what they all have in common, forward moving guys, either aged or little speed. The one exception to that might be Juan Manuel Marquez and we all know what happened in those fights.

Is Mayweather ducking him? No, I understand the claims made by Mayweather’s camp and in truth they were only strengthened when Manny refused to do the tests. I never suspected Manny of any indiscretion until his refusal to comply with testing, it gave rise to further speculation and examination. The only way to be sure is through ‘random blood testing’, it would provide closure on the matter. The truth is neither party is to blame and in fact its huge flattery to Pacquiao that his performances have been so good it has brought rise to such speculation, and even bigger compliment in the sense that Floyd Mayweather with an ego as big as his would call Pacquiao an ‘extraordinary fighter’, even Roger Mayweather admitted to underestimating his ability. So people have really taken notice of Pacquiao’s unbelievable accomplishments.


The state of Drug testing in Boxing

Whether Pacquiao is on drugs or not, it does not hide the fact that test procedures in boxing are laughable and boxing needs to take a serious look at itself, boxing is not like other sports where an athletes performance cannot inflict physical and longterm damage on an opponent. Victor Conte (the man behind the BALCO scandal) recently stated “Boxing’s testing program is beyond a joke. It’s worthless”. It is terrible to think that guys like Shane Mosley and Roy Jones Jr. may have been using drugs throughout their careers, yes we only know of isolated incidents, but only because there is not evidence available to contrary does not mean that boxers have not been abusing boxing’s incompetent testing. Even if nothing comes out of this fight, the fact that it has shed some light on the issue can only be viewed as a good thing, maybe this will be as important to Floyd Mayweather’s legacy as fighting or beating Manny Pacquiao. 

People who say they do not understand the allegations or suspicions, clearly do not understand or appreciate size of Manny Pacquiao’s achievements and what he has accomplished particularly in the last 3 years. There are those that say evidence is needed to accuse Pacquiao of cheating, which is bewildering to me; so you want a video of him actually taking some kind of illegal supplement? That is preposterous, olympic athletes are singled out for drug testing when they have great success in particular events, the Jamaican track and field team was treated in this way during the olympics and in fact Usain Bolt was blood tested on the morning of his record breaking 100m run. Similarly Russian athletes were tested as a result of their success in weight lifting events and many were found to be doping and consequently banned from competing. There was no evidence of the Russians cheating in these events but their dominance was enough to raise the question as with the Jamaicans, who were honest and cleared, now Pacquiao’s accomplishments deserve the same scrutiny. 

Those who think there needs to receipts of payments made to an organization like BALCO are being extremely naive, by that logic no one would ever be caught. I still strongly believe Manny is clean, but his refusal to take “a $50 million drug test” has convinced people that he is doping. Albeit without substantial evidence but plenty to be suspicious of, admittedly these suspicions are open to interpretation. The suspicions are supported by the fact that many boxers believe Pacquiao to be doping, although their motives may be questionable it still contributes to making the regular man on the street question Pacquiao's legitimacy. Boxing has been shamed in recent years with Boxers admitting to the use of drugs, baseball’s image has been heavily tarnished because of drug cheats. If Pacquiao were to agree to blood testing (within reason) him and Floyd could help the commissioning bodies take a stronger stance on drugs which would benefit the sport. 

There is no way of having the concrete evidence (burden of proof) that some are calling for, at least not without testing. It is all based on the notion of ‘probable cause’; the suspicion is strong enough for someone (an official body) to question whether some type of wrongdoing exists in Pacquiao superb displays at welterweight. The question is justified whenever an athlete produces super-human results - whether it be Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps or Manny Pacquiao. They should be scrutinised and tested accordingly, talk of victimisation is absurd. Pacquiao should now consider himself an elite athlete, to be mentioned with guys like Bolt and Phelps is an honor, it is not question of his character, but rather an indication of how astonishing his performances have been.

The arguments for and the arguments against Pacquiao using performance enhancing drugs are at times equally as strong, but the benefit of doubt should surely weigh in favor of Pacquiao. The whole debacle has left a sour taste in the mouth of the boxing watching public and has really brought into question whether we will ever see 'the mega fight' [Pacquiao vs. Mayweather]. It would ultimately be an epic shame if the fight was to not happen for both the fans and boxing. In truth, Pacquiao and Mayweather are clearly the two best fighters currently active and the superiority is often painstakingly evident.  Both fighters may go down as two of the all time greats, how often have we been able to see such high caliber of fighter face one another? If the fight was to not happen, it would surely diminish both fighters legacies as boxing historians and fans alike would always question what might have been. This is not the brainchild of some droll hypothetical (i.e. Ali vs Tyson, or Ali vs Ray Robinson etc.), this is an instance where two extraordinary fighters are active in the same weight class, of a similar age, and for that reason they must fight, if the fight does not transpire, I am positive both fighters will live to regret it.