Doug Fischer

Pascal backs off PED insinuation, sort of

 

Light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal wore a look of shock during the second half of his title defense against Bernard Hopkins, which ended in a controversial majority draw last December.

Pascal got to keep his RING and WBC titles but he lost credibility after going life and death with the then-45-year-old veteran despite scoring first- and third-round knockdowns.

Perhaps that and his own disbelief of how easily the "old man" handled him is why the 28-year-old champ ambushed Hopkins with insinuations that the now-46-year-old legend uses performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) at the kick-off press conference for their HBO-televised fight in Pascal’s adopted hometown of Montreal on Saturday.

Pascal (26-1-1, 16 knockouts) announced that he was willing to undergo Olympic-style drug testing for the rematch after a friend of his yelled out “blood test” from the audience during the press conference that took place in Montreal in late March.

Hopkins, who will supplant George Foreman as the oldest fighter to win a major title if he beats Pascal, laughed off the younger man’s needling question of whether he was willing to take random blood tests.

However, the tension quickly escalated when Pascal said Hopkins should want to prove that he’s a clean fighter because his head trainer Naazim Richardson also trains Shane Mosley, who admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs prior to his rematch with Oscar De La Hoya.

Hopkins, flanked by Golden Boy Promotions partner Richard Schaefer, got up to leave the press conference as a riled-up and already standing Pascal repeatedly hollered “Why don’t you take the test!? Just take the test!” A shoving match and minor melee ensued on the dais when Pascal put his hand on Hopkins‘ shoulder as the former undisputed middleweight champ tried to walk off the stage.

A still-bitter Hopkins vowed to give Pascal “life ending” beating at a second press conference held in New York City the following day. On a recent conference call the future hall of famer said "his people" would pursue legal action in response to Pascal’s baseless allegations.

So it was no surprise to Pascal or the fighter’s promoter Yvon Michel when most of the questions during their recent media conference call centered around the light heavyweight champ’s “take the test” comments.

The Haiti-born Canadian asserted that his statement was not meant as an allegation but rather a challenge to one of the sport's most influential figures after he was asked if he thought he might be sued by Hopkins.

“I didn't say that he was cheating,” Pascal said. “I said that he's a legend and he should lead by example. He should have taken the lead. Look, (an amateur boxer) who's representing his country for free, only for the honor, has to go through the Olympic testing series before going to the Olympic games. A pro fighter has to pass obsolete tests only. So, these tests have to be updated in 2011.

“(The call for better drug testing in boxing) was a trend that was started by Floyd Mayweather (who refused to fight Manny Pacquiao unless Olympic-style random blood testing was used). Even Manny Pacquiao said recently that he would take the test if he can bring in the fight with Mayweather. So, if Hopkins doesn't want to take the lead and do that, I am is willing to do it.”

Though it’s obvious that Pascal wants to avoid legal action by denying that he ever directly accused Hopkins of using PEDs or “cheating” (which he yelled repeatedly at the first press conference) he didn’t hesitate to take shots at the veteran and his promotional company.

“I never accused Hopkins of anything, but I certainly didn't expect to get that kind of reaction out of him,” he said. “If you're not taking anything, why would you be upset? Also, I really think that people who don't want to disclose the truth are people have something to hide. Ask me the same question about the test and I will tell you anytime, anywhere I'm willing to take the test. Also, I won't call the Quebec Commission to find out what kind of tests they're going to make in advance like Hopkins did.

“It's funny how Golden Boy stressed how Manny Pacquiao had to take the test (during negotiations for the fight with Mayweather, who was represented by the promotional company). Now, they are looking bitter and trying to avoid the subject.”

Pascal said that he isn’t concerned about Hopkins pressing legal action following the fight.

“That just makes me laugh, because if he wants to sue me, I will file a complaint because he said he's going to kill me,” he said.

Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs) has toned it down a bit since the New York press conference, repeatedly stating that he only intends to give Pascal an “old-school Philadelphia beatdown” for as long as the Montreal resident can take it.

Pascal says he’ll be ready for Hopkins, who dominated the first fight from the fourth round on in the eyes of many fans and media.

“For the first fight, we tried new training methods, not the same that we had used in the past because we believed that you should not get into a boring routine with training, you should try new things,” Pascal said. “But, for this fight, I used my old recipe. So, I trained like I was training before.”

However, most observers believe Pascal faded over the second half of the fight had more to do with Hopkins’ pressure and aggression than any lack of conditioning. Hopkins has called Pascal a four-round fighter.

Pascal, who has engaged in heated 12-round battles with Carl Froch and Adrian Diaconu, doesn’t agree but he says four rounds is all he needs to win the rematch.

“Bernard Hopkins said that I was a four-round fighter, and this is it,” he said. “I'm going to knock him out inside four rounds.”

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