The Mayweather campaign to tarnish Manny Pacquiao's reputation by associating him with steroid use is highly cynical and entirely contrived.
Throughout his career there had never been the slightest suggestion that Pacquiao was a steroid user until Floyd Mayweather Sr. brazenly made the following comments in September 2009,
"I don't think he can beat 'Lil' Floyd' with steroids in him or not, he don't have that kind of talent. He don't have that kind of skill, whatever he has in him. I think they're pushing Pacquiao a little too much, even if he's got 'roids in his body. The steroids aren't going to make him no faster. It's going make him relentless and hit strong, but that's it. It ain't going to put no knowledge in your head."
Mayweather Sr. was not merely insinuating that Pacquiao was a steroid user, he was discussing the matter as if it were a well established fact. Yet I can find no reference to Pacquiao using steroids anywhere online prior to Mayweather Sr.'s comments.
If you were wondering where this Mayweather-manufactured bandwagon was heading, the answer came shortly after when talks for a potential mega fight between boxing's pound-for-pound best, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., were terminated with the contentious issue being, believe it or not, drug testing.
Normally if a fight is taking place in Las Vegas, as one between these two boxers inevitably would, the Nevada State Athletic Commission would oversee the drug testing procedures. Mayweather Jr. had been happy with this arrangement for all 14 of his previous fights in Las Vegas, but in the negotiations with Pacquiao he took the Draconian step of demanding Olympic style drug testing.
This would involve the fighters being subjected to random blood tests, something which is unprecedented in the sport of professional boxing. Pacquiao is not comfortable giving blood and his camp claim the Mayweather camp were well aware of this fact before sitting down at the negotiating table. Whether this is the case or not will never be known, but the negotiations ground to a halt and Mayweather found himself facing a far less dangerous opponent in Shane Mosley.
Now, unlike Pacquiao, Mosley is a man who has failed a drug test and as such deserves to be subject to more stringent testing procedures than other fighters. He agreed to the Olympic style testing but having already admitted to unknowingly using steroids, Mosley needs to do more than the next man to convince people he is clean. Manny Pacquiao, by contrast, has an immaculate record and need be subject to no such constraints.
One of the suggestions being aired is that Pacquiao could not physically have made the move up in weight without chemical assistance. When Pacquiao started his boxing career he was 16-years-old and weighed 106 lbs. When Mayweather first won the Golden Gloves Amateur Championships he was also 16 and weighed 106 lbs. Now both men are competing in and around the 147 lbs mark. If Pacquiao's move up in weight makes him a suspected user of performance enhancing drugs then Mayweather Jr.'s must too.
Mayweather Jr. seems unhappy with the dramatic improvement which Pacquiao has undergone since hooking up with trainer Freddy Roach. "A fighter doesn't start like Manny Pacquiao, just ordinary, and then when he gets over the age of 25 he becomes an extraordinary fighter, it just doesn't work like that in the sport of boxing," he said.
Why shouldn't it work like that? Why shouldn't a new coach take a fighter's game to a different level? Does a fighter have to come from a famous boxing family and achieve prospect status at an early age in order to be classed as extraordinary?
Mayweather Jr. has a clear agenda: to avoid the potential pitfall to his undefeated career that Pacquiao presents without losing face. He is determined to cast Pacquiao as the villain by stubbornly making drug test demands that he knows the Filipino will never consent to.
The Mayweather's and those connected to them continue to attempt to create clouds and cast them over Pacquiao's career. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who was negotiating on the Mayweather's behalf, asked, "Why would Pacquiao refuse to have the same kind of testing that Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have had?"
An obvious answer would be because Pacquiao is not a cyclist, a swimmer or a basketball player; he is a boxer, and no boxer in history has ever been subjected to such stringent testing. Mosley and Mayweather may be about to become the first but there are extenuating circumstance due to Mosley's chequered past when it comes to the use of steroids. It is also worth mentioning that since Mosley admitted to inadvertent steroid use earlier in his career he has fought Miguel Cotto, Ricardo Mayorga and Antonio Margarito. Unlike Mayweather Jr., none of those fighters felt the need to demand Mosley undergo additional drug testing.
It seems odd that Mayweather Jr. should appoint himself as the white knight of this particular cause given that he has comfortably beaten every opponent he has ever faced. "I'm trying to clear up the sport," he boldly proclaimed.
Even if steroids are rife in world class boxing, and I suspect they aren't, the use of them by other fighters has yet to noticeably damage Mayweather Jr.'s career.
Pacquiao's success has been built on his skill and speed, and neither asset is particularly associated with steroid use. Mayweather Sr. inadvertently said it himself: "the steroids aren't going to make him no faster." Steroids may allow you to train harder and recover faster but stamina and fitness are basic requirements for world class boxers. A lack of either might lose you a fight, but neither attribute on its own will be enough to win you one.
If Mayweather Jr. is as good as he says he is then he should be able to allow Pacquiao to take whatever he wants and still defeat him. This is the same man who boasted to reporters, "Can Manny Pacquiao beat me? Absolutely not. Easy work, easy fight. I don't see no versatility in Manny Pacquiao. I see just a fighter, you know, a good puncher, but just one dimensional."
If Mayweather truly believes he is so much better than Pacquiao then why the sudden insistence on Olympic style testing? Mayweather Jr. was at it again after the Clottey fight. "Personally, I think Pacquiao got exposed in that fight for being one-dimensional. You can have all the offensive ability in the world but with no defense you're not going to last long against a good counter puncher such as myself," he said.
On the one hand Mayweather claims that his natural ability is far greater than Pacquiao's but, on the other hand, he is afraid to face him due to his oft-asserted suspicion that Pacquiao takes steroids. Steroids do not make you versatile, they do not make you multi-dimensional and they are certainly not going to improve your defense.
Unfortunately, these baseless accusations have gathered momentum. One headline I read while researching this article read: "Floyd Mayweather picks Cotto over roided Pacquiao." As the old adage goes, mud sticks.
If this fight is never to be I hope history will recall that, instead of throwing punches at Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather chose to throw mud. Pacquiao has never failed a drug test in his career—this point cannot be over emphasized—and he should not have to contend with these type of accusations until such a time as he does fail a drug test.
Mayweather Jr. will always be remembered for his uncanny ability to evade actual punches, but if this fight does not happen he will also be remembered for evading Manny Pacquiao.