Mexican middleweight star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez recently tested positive for a banned substance, after Clenbuterol was discovered in his system. But, as is the current state of boxing in 2018, the show must go on, and the highly awaited rematch with Gennady Golovkin will go ahead as planned.
Despite arguably the biggest star in the sport being ‘caught’ with an illegal substance from VADA testing ahead of the anticipated second encounter with ‘GGG’, proceedings remain on course as normal, with this being shrugged off as simply a minor mishap.
Of course, ‘Canelo’ isn’t the first fighter to have been tested positive for a substance banned from the sport in which he has become the star attraction of in recent years, and he most certainly will not be the last.
News of the Mexican’s substance shame swiftly spread throughout the boxing world, with many fans and those involved in the sport being part of the backlash directed towards him. In this dangerous business, when the main aim is to inflict as much damage on an opponent as possible, any illegal enhancements in performance could ultimately prove fatal.
But for those who have been found guilty of implementing such benefits into their training camps or regimes, punishments come few and thin, particularly when you are a high-profile star that attracts huge money and financial income when involved in an upcoming event.
Step forward ‘Canelo’. Along with Britain’s reigning world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, Alvarez is unquestionably the biggest draw in boxing, having somewhat taken over the void left when pay-per-view juggernaut Floyd Mayweather Jr (sort of) said goodbye to the sport.
It’s now ‘Canelo’ that often leads the way in terms of generating mass hysteria among fans, both in his homeland of Mexico, across the United States of America and beyond, with his face having aligned with boxing since rising to stardom under the Golden Boy Promotions banner.
The scheduled rematch with middleweight kingpin Golovkin follows a highly controversial original match-up in Las Vegas, where the Kazakh knockout artist was evidently denied his finest hour by either severely incompetent or heavily influenced officiating from the specifically selected judges at ringside.
Most notably, Adelaide Byrd’s ludicrous scorecard of 118-110 in favour of a clearly outworked ‘Canelo’ caused most of the outcry of foul play in Sin City – something that, along with the lack of positive drug testing punishments being dished out, can be sadly expected in boxing.
But, of course, Don Trella’s 114-114 marking of an otherwise exciting fight at the T-Mobile Arena last September proved to be costly and decisive in Golovkin missing out on what would have been his crowning career glory, another sad state of affairs in a sport which is still worryingly overlooked by the rich and powerful hierarchy.
In the widely-anticipated second scuffle between the pair in Las Vegas, ‘Canelo’ is regarded as the outsider once again to get the better of his Kazakh nemesis. But, following the blatantly botched scorecards from their initial match-up, the Mexican is definitely worth backing with the use of Ladbrokes’ free bet advertised on Oddschecker, with Golden Boy’s cash cow potentially set to benefit from all variables again this time around. There’s a reason why the rematch is headed right back to the scene of the crime last September.
‘Canelo’, now 27 years of age, was also the subject of questioning from Golovkin’s esteemed trainer Abel Sanchez, in light of the already highlighted drug testing news, this time regarding the use of illegal hand wrapping for the first fight last year.
Big Bear trainer Sanchez boldly claimed that the Nevada State Athletic Commission allowed Alvarez to use an illegal hand wrapping technique called ‘stacking’ for the previous fight. The Tijuana-born coach was then tossed from the room where the wrapping took place by the commission inspector, while, rather bizzarely, ‘Canelo’s’ promoter Eric Gomez, of Golden Boy, hit back. He exclaimed that Sanchez lacks experience of being in Las Vegas for big fight nights, as this is how hands are supposedly wrapped in fights that take place in the city.
Calls have been made for the rematch to be cancelled after the latest ‘Canelo’ controversey. Not a chance. Ironically, and rather frustratingly for those hoping to finally see the sport cleaned of cheaters, this drama will actually only add to the publicity of the second scuffle between the pair of talented prize-fighters, exactly what Oscar De La Hoya and co. want. Simply put, there’s too much money on the line in such a grand spectacle for this to be derailed by recent events, no matter how serious.
It’s most likely set to be the biggest bout of the year, unless Deontay Wilder and Joshua finally collide in a heavyweight unification scrap at some stage or Mayweather Jr decides to come back and handpick another gimmick opponent for ‘one last’ payday. Therefore, despite the star of proceedings being buzzed for an illegal substance, the show will go on as expected.
After all the deliberating online and the instant backlash from fans, pundits, coaches and other opinionated fighters, it’s possible that ‘Canelo’ simply did contract the substance from some tainted Mexican meat. But it’s the laid back approach and unopposing stance that those higher up have taken that continues to frustrate the concerned masses. While it’s impossible to prove, if the shoe were on the other foot and Golovkin was popped for the substance, it’s more than likely there would be a much sterner, deeper enquiry into the matter. His legacy would be scrutinised and every achievement to date ridiculed from the opposing party and its legions of followers.
If boxing truly wants to rid the sport of performance enhancing drugs, then those in power had the most promising and convincing opportunity to do so with the ‘Canelo’ case. A lengthy ban or a postponement or cancellation of the ‘GGG’ rematch until proven truly innocent would have made a huge impact on those thinking of getting involved in enhancing properties themselves in the future.
Making an example of the Mexican superstar would have been a clear-cut and thorough way of dealing with this problem, which is constantly rearing its ugly head in a sport which really doesn’t need any further demons being awakened.
The news of that failed test spread like wildfire and previous incidents or events subsequently became even more suspicious as a result. All those fights at random catchweights. The guilty worry from ‘Canelo’ after brutally knocking out Amir Khan. The substantial growth in overall size in such a short space of time.
All this could turn out to be a mistake and ‘Canelo’ may have been the victim of an accidental intake. But many still hold the belief that there’s no smoke without fire when it comes to these situations, and specifically one involving a fighter of such magnitude where allegations are so casually swept under the carpet in the immediate aftermath.
Nevertheless, the biggest fight of the year hasn’t been affected, as ‘Canelo’ continues to prepare for Golovkin on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo weekend, when the red-headed Mexican will look to claim his biggest career victory to date; albeit a potentially tainted one.