Does Floyd Want to Clean Boxing or Tarnish His Rival's Image?

By Steve Fradkin - Floyd Mayweather told Jim Rome on ESPN this week that "Manny wouldn't take a $25 million drug test. I'm trying to clean up sports, make a change... You don't start off your career as average, and then after your turn 25, become extraordinary... All we want is for Pacman to take a $25 million dollar drug test, and we got a fight."

Was Pacquiao really just average before he turned 25?

Was he average when he took two titles in the flyweight division? Was he average when he KO'd Lehlohonolo Ledwaba on HBO as a late sub for a super bantamweight title in 2001?

He was certainly one-handed and one-dimensional back then, but there was nothing average about his speed, power, endurance, desire, and ferocity. Besides, how many average fighters win multiple titles in multiple divisions as Pacman had done by the age of 23?

This is when Freddy Roach started training him. This is when they began to fix his flaws and make him a complete fighter. This is when they activated his right hand. This is when Manny began his string of undeniably extraordinary accomplishments that, arguably, by themselves overshadow Floyd's accomplishments.

Manny won two other titles in the super bantamweight division, two titles in the featherweight division, and five titles in the super featherweight division against at least three first ballet hall-of-famers. Then he moved up and took titles in the lightweight, junior welterweight, and welterweight divisions. Floyd implies that these extraordinary accomplishments starting two years after meeting Roach are the result of cheating and not the result of hard work and sound training.

But remember, nobody accused Manny of cheating when he twice beat Marco Antonio Barerra. Nobody mentioned PED's and Pacquiao in the same sentence when he drew with, then beat, Juan Manuel Marquez. No one said steroids or any other illegal power pellet when Pacman first lost to, then twice beat, the great Erik Morales. No one said anything about illegal substances when Manny crushed David Diaz and Oscar De La Hoya. All they said was that Daiz was slow and Oscar was shot.

In fact, nobody accused Manny of cheating until he conquered the division in which Mayweather wasted so much time. And then who stepped up to accuse Manny of cheating? Mayweather's Daddy! And now Mayweather, Jr., himself is running around casting doubts on Pacman's best accomplishments, claiming that everything Manny's done that deserves Hall of Fame consideration is suspect.

There are probably very few people in Jim Rome's audience who follow boxing. Most are probably hearing about Manny Pacquiao for the first time. To those people, Floyd's words may make sense, which means Floyd is damaging the reputation of a man that these people are just getting to know. But to those of us who do follow boxing, Floyd is talking junk. Pacquiao has been an extraordinary fighter for a very, very long time.

At the start, Manny hid metal in his shorts to make the minimum 106 pounds for the straw weight division. He was a malnourished teen fighting grown men for a handful of pesos. Yet he was still a ferocious dynamo with a lethal left hand. By the time he met Roach, he was an anything-but-average multi-division champion. And then Roach helped fix his flaws and took him to the highest levels.

Floyd sees that Manny has stolen his shine. Manny won Fighter of the Year, again. Manny won Fighter of the Decade. Manny won KO of the year. And Manny is almost universally recognized at the P4P king. But rather than make his own shine brighter, Floyd is doing everything in his power to dull Manny's shine in the eyes of the American public.

I'm not saying that boxing's drug screening doesn't need to be tightened because it does. What I'm saying is that Floyd should not slander his rival to get those reforms. It makes him look small, slefish, and jealous instead of unselfishly concerned about the integrity of the sport.

Article posted on 08.02.2010

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