This Friday night from the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona, Oscar Valdez makes the first defense of his WBC junior lightweight title versus Robson Conceicao. Unfortunately, what was to have been a celebration of Valdez's assension as a star in the wake of his 10th round knockout of Miguel Berchelt back in February, is now an indictment on the business of boxing.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Last week the news broke that the 30 year old Valdez had tested positive for a banned stimulant(phentermine) as part of the VADA drug testing program.
What should have been a rather cut-and-dried decision to pull the plug on the fight, instead became a situation where the powers that be finagled a way to make this fight occur.
Those who had a financial interest in this event scrambled to find an alibi, and it was an herbal tea that was originally blamed for the positive drug test. Who knows if Valdez took the Nestea plunge, or if he took this substance knowingly, there has to come a point in time where all boxers have to be held responsible for what gets into their system.
There should be strict liability, instead there is really no accountability.
Simply put, the dog ate my homework -- or in this case, I sipped the tea -- shouldn't be accepted.
But what's really troubling is that the regulators who in theory are in charge of enforcing the rules and doling out the discipline, instead found a way to enable this. VADA for all it's good intentions is a toothless tiger as they can not adjudicate such situations. But the sanctioning body, in this case, the WBC, had the power to at least strip their sanction of this fight, and make their title vacant.
Instead they put out this statement regarding his status:
1. The WBC will officially sanction the Valdez v. Conceicao bout for the WBC World Super Featherweight Title, which will take place as originally scheduled on September 10, 2021.
2. The WBC will donate the totality of the sanction fees it will receive from that bout into the WBC-CBP program and into the WBC JosÃ© SulaimÃ¡n Boxers Fund.
3. The WBC will design and implement several mandatory programs at Champion Valdez sole cost including:
a. Taking a substantial number of random antidoping tests in the next six months as determined by the WBC-CBP;
b. Enrollment, active participation, and strict compliance with a weight management program including nutrition and hydration components designed by the WBC Nutrition Committee; Champion Valdez and his team must receive completed certification of this program.
c. Once he completes the above programs, Champion Valdez shall serve as a WBC Ambassador, whereupon he shall make a minimum of six personal appearances to promote and educate attendants on principles consistent with clean boxing, Weight management proper practices and with the WBC social responsibility values.
4. The WBC will place Champion Valdez in probation status for a period of 12 months. Any whereabouts failure or adverse analytical finding during the probationary period will result in an indefinite suspension from all WBC activity, immediate suspension of recognition of any WBC privilege (championship or status) until the matter is resolved; and being shown as Not Available in WBC World ratings.
You just wonder, if this was not a popular well-known champion, who is highly connected, would he have been given this type of leeway?
And at what point will boxers who sign up for the VADA program (or any other drug testing system) live under those specific regulations? As for the WBC, -- who partnered up with VADA to head up their 'Clean Boxing Program' -- is this all just a dog-and-pony show?
As for Valdez, he put forth this statement on Friday via Twitter:
You'd like to believe Valdez, one of the more likable fighters in the sport. But the reality is that any time a boxer is caught using banned substances, their whole career is now questioned. And in this case, his stablemates who also work with trainer, Eddy Reynoso, are also under the microscope. Perhaps that's not fair, but that's the way it is.
(My view is that one step Valdez can take in restoring his good name is to voluntary enroll in a 24/7/365 drug testing protocol moving forward.)
There are those who are castigating Valdez, and there are others who are blinding supporting him. It shows that there truly is a sliding scale of justice and outrage in this sport. That depending on the offending party, segments of boxing fans will have differing reactions to fit their narratives and satisfy their biases.
It's tribalism at it's worst.
But for boxing, it's business as usual.
One of the reasons why I'm such a fan of Tim Bradley behind the mic is that he's unfiltered. If something is on his mind, he'll say it. This is what he had to state about the Valdez situation:
Now, you can argue that he's being unprofessional, and that maybe he shouldn't have gone as far as to say that he hoped Valdez got knocked out, given that he'll be a part of the ESPN announcing crew for this card, I think that's a valid point.
But in an age of overly cautious comments, and media members being hesitant to say what they really feel, it's refreshing to hear a guy just let it all go.
Those ESPN fighter meetings this week should be really interesting.
So Oscar De La Hoya's bout with Vitor Belfort this upcoming weekend has been scrapped as 'the Golden Boy' has come down with covid.
With that, Evander Holyfield will now face Belfort in this 'Triller Fight Club' event, which has been shifted from the Staples Center in Los Angeles to the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.
A very unsatisfying end to the rematch between Mauricio Lara and Josh Warrington in Leeds. Fight had heated up quickly in front of a very lively atmosphere at Headingley Rugby League Stadium....I like Conor Benn, he may need more refinement as a boxer but he'll make for some good fights moving forward....Has UCLA turned the corner under Chip Kelly?....Yeah, I'll say it: the App. St and Michigan State games are referendums on Manny Diaz as the coach of the Miami Hurricanes... I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....