LAS VEGAS — During Juan Manuel Marquez’s turn at the podium for Wednesday’s press conference, the 38-year-old lightweight champ thanked Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum, as well as Manny Pacquiao for an opportunity to avenge a draw and a split-decision loss in their previous matchups.
“And especially, I want to thank ‘Memo,’ Angel Hernnandez Heredia,” said Marquez, gesturing toward a gentleman in the audience with closely cropped dark hair and wearing a black suit jacket. “I want to thank him for helping me in support for this fight.”
With that, whispers swirled among the gathered media members as attention focued on the controversial member of Marquez’s camp.
The 36-year-old Hernandez is widely known to have a past history of being involved in performance enhancing activities, having gone by his real name, Angel Heredia, in May of 2008 when he testified in a San Francisco Court that he supplied former track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with illegal substances.
A graduate of Texas A&M’s exercise science program who believes that his state of the art techniques are better suited for helping Marquez to gain weight, 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.
“The government was bound and determined to make an example of the defendant [Graham],” said the jury foreman at the time.
“To achieve their goal, they felt it necessary to do a deal with a true devil, an untruthful drug dealer and illegal immigrant who is walking the streets of America, free and presumably still plying his trade with impunity.”
A former competitor for Jamaica at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Graham sparked the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) in 2003. Controversial BALCO founder Victor Conte tweeted his knowledge of Hernandez’s past, and has since become the subject of a lawsuit filed by Hernandez for defamation of character.
Similar to Conte, who works with fighters such as Nonito Donaire and Andre Berto, Hernandez has been hired by Marquez, a winner of three straight fights since debuting as a welterweight in a one-sided unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. (42-0, 26 KOs) in September of 2009.
Hernandez spoke to reporters concerning his new role, his current methods, and the results he believes his techniques will bring against Pacquiao.
Angel Hernandez on his reaction to the negative attention since his past has come to light:
“You know, the public opinion is always going to be there. You as an American can also have an opinion, but as we said earlier, we were the first ones who said that we are not using anything illegal.
“It doesn’t make me angry, because they can always have the opinons they want. We don’t have to hide. I’ve always been open with the press. I don’t have to be afraid of anything. I’m very happy to be here.”
“One of the people who has had a vendetta against me and who has also offered his opinion on Manny Pacquiao is Victor Conte. That guy has no credibility.
“You know, I’ve done a lot of positive things for sports and the U.S. Anti-Doping code. I’ve done a lot of things with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. So, really, I don’t judge him and I don’t take it personally.
“If I had anything to hide, would I come out on HBO live? That’s very obviously. We have done everything legal and strictly scientific and we do it with supplementation and with the proper training.
“You’re talking about a person who is not only a convicted felon, but also, a liar…He’s blamed me for what happened to him, but I had nothing to do with it.
“He’s put himself out there as a savior, and that he’s doing protocol and everything. I think that he wants to be part of the show every time something comes up.
“This is a guy who, when he was arrested or busted or whatever you want to call it, he told the feds something and then the next day he told them he never said anything.
“But these were the words of a federal agent, and everybody knows that the federal agent’s words are totally legit. I don’t feel anything.
“To me, he’s just a useless guy, that’s all that he is. That’s what he’s always going to be. He’s always going to be talking about me. He’s not in love with me.”