Cheating in boxing must be addressed

The Boxing Tribune Rico Aguirre
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Current events in boxing only confirm the truth in the saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

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It has been a few years since the infamous incident involving the use of plaster-like substances in Antonio Margarito’s wraps, yet few steps have been taken to prevent that incident from happening again. Despite the outcry, no legitimate universal steps have been taken to mitigate cheating.

We must remember that the job of a fighter is to beat his opponent, and as a result they place their own life on the line. Moreover, if a fighter has an unfair advantage it could prove to be detrimental to the health of his opponent.

Currently, people are engaging in a USADA vs. VADA drug-testing protocol debate. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. This debate needs to be settled by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, as it seems to be the leader in the sport. Though everyone seems obsessed with performance-enhancing drugs, there are other issues that need to be addressed.

One of the major issues regarding cheating in boxing is the cutting of weight. Some fighters have the uncanny ability to cut more than 10 percent of their weight prior to a weigh-in. The sanctioning of a bout in which one fighter outweighs his opponent by more than 10 pounds after regaining weight on the day of a fight is unfair.

So far only the IBF has taken action to prevent this by requiring another weigh-in the day of the fight that disqualifies fighters that gain too much weight. It is suspected that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. weighed more than 180 pounds the day of his June 16 fight with Andy Lee after weighing in the day before at the middleweight limit of 160. The 20-plus pounds gained by Chavez appear to be the edge that gave him the win over Lee.

Another issue is hand wraps. The public is aware that plaster could be inserted into hand wraps to give a fighter an edge. However, it is not as well known that an experienced hand wrapper can turn the tape and gauze into a cast that protects a fighter's hands, as well as give him the ability to do more damage. Some of this wrap work is consistent with commission rules and some is not.

When Manny Pacquaio faced Margarito in November 2010, there was an alleged incident accusing Pacquiao of illegal hand wraps. In particular, Margarito's trainer Robert Garcia wanted to cancel the fight because the wraps Pacquiao was wearing, in which non-medical tape was rolled up into thick cords between the knuckles, were highly questionable. Perhaps this explains how Pacquiao was able to break Margarito’s eye socket? The most troubling aspect is that the commission officials refused to address the illegal nature of the wraps and allowed this to happen.

Unless true reform is sought in boxing we will undoubtedly experience more of the same. We will continue to see the boxing establishment place a fighter’s life and health on the line when a fighter is placed in the ring with an opponent who cheats their way to victory. We must not only work to protect the integrity of the sport but also the well-being of fighters.

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