IF boxing has turned a corner with regards to drug testing in the last two years, you wouldn’t know it in Brisbane where days before the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn showdown, neither fighter looks like being subjected to any pre-fight testing prior to Sunday’s WBO world welterweight title contest.
Whereas the WBC and WBA have introduced their Clean Boxing and Fair Boxing programs respectively, and the IBF have shown commitment to VADA testing, the WBO often leave the issue to the local boxing commission due to excessive costs of drug testing.
Queensland, for so long without a regulatory body for professional boxing, relies on the Australian National Boxing Federation for their commissioning.
The ANBF have not been made aware of any testing and point out this only occurs if the promoters or sanctioning body insist on it.
“No one has been in contact with us about it,” ANBF president John Hogg said. “In other Jeff Horn fights there has been drug testing, but we’ve heard nothing this time.”
It should be pointed out there is no suggestion that Pacquiao or Horn have ever taken PEDs. However, a WBO official’s suggestion that the local ringside doctor will take “a urine sample then send it to VADA or WADA or test it themselves” is not comforting ahead of a high-profile bout in a sport that must be seen to do everything it can to prevent cheating.
Promoter Bob Arum does not believe this should cast a shadow over the event expected to draw 50,000 fans in Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and a massive TV audience on ESPN in the United States.
“Manny is clean as a whistle, so is Jeff Horn,” Arum said.
“It doesn’t bother me at all. Manny has had VADA testing. I didn’t even know we didn’t do it for this fight.”
Of course, both fighters in any title fight should be under scrutiny. Back in 2012, Pacquiao’s camp were suspicious of Juan Manuel Marquez – whose physique raised eyebrows after working with conditioning coach Angel Heredia – after he knocked out the Filipino.
But Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has revealed no such suspicions of Horn.
“Any symptoms [of PED use], he [Marquez] had them all,” Roach alleged. “But what are you gonna do? Do you fight it or cancel, you can’t do that. As long as he beat the system there’s not much you.
“[Horn] doesn’t seem like it. He seems like a calm kid. You never know. But we don’t worry about things like that.”
Pacquiao too has done absolutely nothing to raise concern, but Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton admits to being more worried than his opposite number.
“You always worry if the guy in the other corner is playing by the rules,” Rushton said. “We’d welcome testing. I’d would hope Manny is clean – if he’s the guy he says he is you wouldn’t want to be seen as a drug cheat. But you’ve seen Lance Armstrong and people of that magnitude found to be drug cheats so it would be nice to have that confirmation.”
Indeed, for a world title fight in 2017, both camps should have that peace of mind.