Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum, the promoter of RING No. 1-rated pound-for-pound fighter, Manny Pacquiao, weighed in on the presence of Angel Hernandez as the new strength and conditioning coach for RING lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez, given Hernandez’s past connection to supplying world class track athletes Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with performance-enhancing substances.
Hernandez has been hired by Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) to assist with the fighter’s preparation for his third bout with Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) on Nov. 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a move that has drawn the ire of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s advisor, Leonard Ellerbe, as well as scrutiny from former BALCO founder Victor Conte, who has a history with Hernandez.
But Arum characterized the recent attention drawn to Hernandez as an over-reaction, and defended Marquez’s right to have him in camp.
“I think that it would behoove all of the press to stop dealing in generalities,” said Arum. “The way that I run an operation, a fighter can hire anybody that he wants to be his trainer. That’s up to the fighter or the conditioner.”
Identified as Angel Hernandez during Episode 2 of HBO’s 24/7 series, Hernandez, 36, is really Angel Heredia, according to Conte, and testified in a San Francisco Court that he supplied Jones and Montgomery with illegal substances, according to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation in May of 2008.
In the report, Heredia admitted to giving the blood-booster EPO, growth hormone and insulin to Jones in 2000 at the request of her then-coach Trevor Graham, who was on trial. Heredia also sold banned substances to Montgomery.
Having competed for Jamaica at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Graham sparked the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) in 2003.
Conte served a prison stint for his work with illegal performance-enhancing drugs in numerous professional sports, and built a four-year career out of helping athletes to circumvent Olympic-style drug testing policies until BALCO was raided in 2003.
Since 1988, however, Conte claims to have become an advocate for drug reform in sports. Conte runs SNAC, an acronym for Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning, and supplies legal sports nutrition products and supplements.
In addition, Conte has become aligned with fighters such as WBO/WBC bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire and IBF welterweight beltholder Andre Berto, and is pushing for a comprehensive, random method of drug testing boxers.
“There was a period of time where people like Victor Conte, and like this guy, Hernandez, dealt in steroids with some major athletes. But that’s old, old news in this sense. Most of the intelligent conditioners, like Conte, if you read what he saying when he was handling Donaire, and this guy, who is now with Marquez, they know that you can achieve all of the benefits that you used to achieve with steroids with natural supplements,” said Arum.
“You can do that without any risk of illegality and without any of the dangers that steroids caused, like steroid rage and other longer term problems. So the idea that Conte, or this guy would be dealing in steroids with anybody to me makes no sense, because they have been through the legal system of the United States. Conte was in jail, and this guy apparently testified and got a suspended sentence. The last thing they would do would be to deal in illegal substances.”
Negotiations for megabouts between Pacquiao and Mayweather have failed twice over Mayweather’s insistance on Olympic-style random drug testing.
In addition, Pacquiao’s has an ongoing lawsuit against Mayweather accusing him of defamation, asserting that the fighter has continued to insinuate publicly that Pacquiao’s success over eight weight classes is the result of having used performance-enhancing drugs.
Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning trainer, Alex Ariza , an assistant to five-time Trainer of The Year Freddie Roach, also works with RING No. 1-rated junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan, and RING No. 5-rated middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.,
Although Ariza has complained, in the past, that his clients were unfairly targeted, if not tainted, by innuendo regarding performance enhancing drugs, he told RingTV.com recently that he has come to accept and embrace the scrutiny leveled against him as forms of envy and back-handed praise from his competitors.
“Of course, none of my guys is doing anything illegal, so, to me, it’s like, I don’t care,” said Ariza, adding that he took his rivals’ assertions as “a huge compliment. So the accusations don’t bother me at all — absolutely not.”
As for steroids?
“You don’t have to do that any more. Wake up and see what these conditioners are saying. They’re using naturally, totally legal substances, and using state of the art conditioning methods,” said Arum.
“That’s not because of anything other than the fact that there have been advancements in legal methods. The steroid problem is fading into the past.”
But Mayweather has stuck to his guns. Prior to his past two victories over Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz in May of last year and in September, Mayweather required that his opponents undergo Olympic-style random drug testing of urine and blood that was conducted by United States Anti-Doping Agency.
The Mayweather-Mosley clash was the first time the Olympic-style testing had been administered in boxing.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com