Boxing News At Five

Boxing News at Five: IBF can’t force Canelo’s hand, Jack Catterall could get shot at Jose Ramirez

Canelo Alvarez vs Danny Jacobs
Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Canelo sheds IBF world title, while Catterall is in the frame for Jose Ramirez clash

BOB ARUM has taken a timeout from thumping British boxing in general and the BBBoC in particular to divulge that Chorley’s Jack Catterall (24-0, 13 KOs) has got a fifty-fifty chance of fighting for a world title.

WBC and WBO light-welterweight holder Jose Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) has indicated that he wants to meet the winner of the WBSS 140lb tournament final between WBA Super titlist Regis Prograis (24-0, 20 early) and Josh Taylor (15-0, 12 stoppages), which takes place in the UK on an as yet unnamed date. In the meantime, he will take care of either his WBC or WBO mandatory defence.

“He has two mandatories — one for the WBO and the other for the WBC,” said Arum when talking to Keith Idec of Boxing Scene. “One is [Viktor] Postol and the other is Jack Catterall. So, the organizations are going to have to figure out who’s up next. And then, the plan would be that after he fought the guy who’s up next, he would ask the other organization for an exception for the unification fight.”

Jack Catterall

Everyone knows that the IBF stringently enforce their mandatories and that this applies to all of their fighters. However, the organisation recently made a huge mistake by trying to make Saul Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) fulfil his mandatory obligation against Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10 stoppages). 

The parties tried and failed to agree terms, with Oscar De La Hoya revealing via a Golden Boy statement that: ‘We offered his team an unprecedented amount of money for a fighter of his limited stature and limited popularity.’

That was very nice of them yet once the parties failed to reach a deal the IBF decided to strip Canelo of his title. De La Hoya took the news in his stride, saying: ‘This is an insult to boxing and more importantly an insult to the boxing fans of the world. This decision validates already existing concerns about the credibility of the IBF championship. 

‘Canelo inherited a mandatory challenger by defeating Daniel Jacobs, the man who beat Derevyanchenko, so to strip him of his title without giving him enough time to make the best fight possible is truly what is wrong with boxing, and I plan to aggressively consider all legal actions possible.’

Granted, a lot of fans believe that the IBF are too keen on forcing mandatories on fighters and creating a logjam. On the other hand, are they to blame for that fact that most top-level fighters only box two or three times a year so cannot afford a dead rubber? In making the decision the IBF have followed their rules — rules that you can view online before contesting one of their titles — yet have broken the cardinal rule of modern-day boxing: ‘This is Caneloville, we do what we want.’

A picture or a photo is worth a thousand words. That is certainly the case in today’s online version of The Guardian as photojournalist Alfredo Estrella of the AFP and Getty Images casts his lens over a boxing gym that has been set-up under a bridge in Ecatepec, Mexico. Former footballer and amateur boxer Miguel Angel Ramirez hopes to use boxing to keep kids away from organised crime. Estrella’s photos make it feel that you are right there. It is well worth a look.  

At this point regular readers may be wondering why we’ve abandoned our recent Dillian Whyte at Five series. Not to worry, there were developments in this saga overnight when Sky Sports broke their silence over Whyte’s failed UKAD doping test by publishing the news that the heavyweight contender passed his VADA tests — the cynical amongst us might even think that they were waiting for some good, spinnable news before mentioning recent events. 

Dillian Whyte

What does this mean for the case itself? Well, not too much at this point. Whyte (26-1, 18 KOs) passed pre and post-fights tests with VADA, something he voluntarily enrolled in, on July 17 and 21 according to a VADA letter that has not been published yet has been seen by a few publications, including Boxing Scene, who broke the UKAD failure story via the work of Thomas Hauser. 

Still, the controversy is over Whyte’s sample failure with UKAD during a test that was administered in June and the traces of two metabolites from the banned substance dianabol that were allegedly found in his system. The results came through on July 17 and we all know the rest: Whyte was cleared to fight after appearing before an independent panel, Rivas wasn’t notified of the situation, and Whyte went on to win the contest on points.

It now remains to be seen how and why his A sample returned a positive result from UKAD. The situation with the WBC, who no longer recognise Whyte as their mandatory challenger to Deontay Wilder, is also up in the air. It could all get very messy and mired in legalities. 

Thankfully, lawyer, boxing fanatic, and Boxing News reader @iseultcody has been sifting through the myriad rules and documentation surrounding the issue to break it down in layman’s terms. When that approach failed, she made the situation as it stands idiot-proof so that this writer could follow the legal aspects of the timeline. 

“Whyte had no positive findings throughout his VADA testing,” she explained. “The UKAD sample led to the National Anti-Doping Panel being convened for a hearing with Whyte. His promoter in an interview in recent days suggested his VADA testing was produced at some point during this hearing. 

“Whilst a confidentiality agreement may be in place which prohibits disclosure by the British Boxing Board of Control of the information provided to them by UKAD and indeed UKAD are bound not to disclose information about an athlete at this stage of the process by their own rules — publication provisions are following a full determination, I might add — in theory there is no reason why a non-disclosure agreement couldn’t have been but in place with Rivas’ team to at least advise them of the position at that stage. Ultimately, the NADP cleared Whyte to fight and his licence wasn’t revoked.

“The confidentiality is very important. It is there to safeguard athletes who are wrongly found to have adverse analytical finding (AAF), so that their name can’t be tarnished if they appeal and are found to be in the clear. An AAF is a strict liability offence, which essentially in layman’s terms means once there is a finding then it is up to the athlete to explain it. The finding in itself proves the UKAD side, so to speak. The easiest analogy would be if you are found to be over the limit for alcohol driving there is an automatic sanction unless you can show a flaw in the system.

“On being notified through a ‘Notice of Charge’ the athlete can either accept the finding and the automatic ban or fight it on whatever grounds and they usually call for B Sample testing — the B Sample is collected at the same time and is simply the one sample split. 

“Given the short time frame before the fight at which the NADP was convened — again an expedited hearing can be requested by the athlete and would certainly have been required given the timeline to have the fight proceed — it may have been the case that there wasn’t sufficient time for the B sample to be tested before the fight. 

“Indeed as part of the rules Whyte has the entitlement to have representatives present at the opening of the sample and testing so the days leading up to the fight would not have presumably been suitable. The UKAD rules have what could be viewed as four explanations for a positive A finding.

“The first is that the athlete intentionally took the substances in question. In that case, although in reality many athletes who dope still fight the charge, there is a ban imposed by UKAD. The presence of the substance can be overlooked or explained by a therapeutic use exemption. These can be granted retrospectively and often this is the case as if they were already in place UKAD would presumably not reach the Notice of Charge stage. 

“Although from an optics perspective if this was the case here one would assume it would immediately have been clarified by Whyte’s team and any confusion dispelled. A TUE is where as part of therapeutic process to treat a legitimate medical condition as prescribed by a medical practitioner the athlete can use an otherwise prohibited substance. The easiest example would be an asthmatic athlete with an inhaler as some would come within this remit, but again this is only at a specific level of elite international athlete.

“The third consideration would be if there was a failing in the testing process and a departure from the standards required to be adhered to in the testing process. The fourth consideration would be a contamination defence, whereby the athlete sought to prove that the substance had not intentionally been ingested, but even still as this is a strict liability offence it would likely reduce a ban not eliminate it. 

“The easiest example would be when athletes, not just Canelo, but he is perhaps the easiest and most applicable example to boxing fans, Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador is another example, allege that a substance such as clenbuterol was present in their system due to being in meat they ingested. 

“Given clenbuterol is used in certain regions to increase cattle size it is a plausible explanation although it always imperative on the athlete to prove this was the case and even then a ban is reflective almost of the athlete’s failing to ensure they weren’t taking this risk knowing it could happen — that is don’t eat meat from places where clenbuterol may be used.

“The element of human error is plausible given that Whyte was able to fight, but, again, a provisional suspension can, according to UKAD’s discretion, be lifted prior to an appeal. Essentially you have a right to appeal and as such preventing the fight where an arguable case is put forward is almost to presuppose the eventual finding.

“One thing I think we can take from all this is that on reading the rules of the various organisations, in particular UKAD rules, including the updated version from October, they are entirely unfit for purpose in so far as certain sports are concerned.

“If there is any possibility that an athlete could after a hearing or after the fact be found to have doped — and I would certainly not be suggesting that was the case here but in any instance — and UKAD permitted the fight following a hastily convened hearing then who would be responsible should that doped athlete cause life changing injuries or potentially death in the ring?

“Where combat sports are concerned it should be a case that the opponent can be advised of the process in some manner albeit with a requirement to enter a non-disclosure agreement to do so. The risks are too great to not keep all parties at the very least informed.

“Confidentiality is a big part of seeking to ensure any effective working of anti-doping measures, but, equally, adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach simply cannot work. One athlete on a team taking something that may aid performance does not have the same ramifications as the potential of one athlete at an advantage in one-on-one combat. The rules need to be predicated around not just clean sports but athlete welfare and that goes for all athletes involved. Moreso in combat sports than any other realm.”

Quite. Unless of course something happens in the next 10 minutes, and it probably will, we are now up-to-speed on the situation. Oh, and Cody will be covering for me if my next BN@5 involves Whyte’s case.

2 Comments

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  • Canelo says he was unaware of Golden Boy Promotions’ (GBP) head matchmaker’s agreement with the IBF in which GBP had to finalise a deal with mandatory challenger Derevyanchenko by 15.00 hrs Eastern Time last Monday or Canelo would be stripped – he should sack his promoter if that’s the case, but I seriously doubt it is.

    The demeaning words “limited stature and limited popularity” used to describe Derevyanchenko are the real insult to boxing fans of the world. Derevyanchenko as mandatory would have been entitled to 35% of any purse bid, so I think his promoter, Di Bella, holding out for $7M for his boxer was perfectly reasonable, whereas not being willing to increase their $5.5M offer by $1.5M to make the fight, even though they knew they’d have to give up the IBF belt, shows GBP are greedy and don’t value the IBF belt.

  • The above article is very good but neglects to mention the possibility that the UKAD test result was a false positive.
    In fact as Eddie Hearn has mentioned that the pre-fight and post-fight VADA tests were the 6th or 7th VADA test that Whyte had passed, and that the UKAD failure is plonked in the middle of these VADA tests, then if true, the UKAD result starts to appear very much like a false positive.

    Incidentally, as Whyte was cleared by the NADP he seems to have no real need to request that the B-sample be tested. I’m sure the negative 6 or 7 VADA tests and his answers to the NADP will form the basis of his evidence to the WBC.

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