Junior lightweight contender Eloy Perez suffered his first career loss when he was knocked out in the fourth round by WBO titleholder Adrien Broner on HBO in a clash of unbeatens on Feb. 25.
The 25-year Perez (23-1-2, 7 knockouts) was subsequently suspended indefinitely pending a hearing by the by the Missouri Department of Professional Registration after he failed a post-fight drug test that found he had used cocaine.
As a result of his infraction, Perez was released by his handlers, The Garcia Management Team, which has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to illicit drugs, according to Perez’s co-manager and co-trainer, Sam Garcia.
“Yes, we have let him go as a fighter and as a professional boxer. We have cut ties in terms of us managing him and training him. We have to have that kind of no tolerance rule. To some people, it sounds kind of harsh, but really we have to have that no tolerance rule because we have kids in the gym,” said Sam Garcia, whose father and mother were Perez’s head trainer and manager, respectively.
“Our city of Salinas, Calif., is a small city and community where everybody knows everybody and it’s a prevalent thing in our city, you know, the drug abuse. It’s something that we’re strongly against. If somebody shows up to work and tests positive for cocaine or some other drug, it’s likely that they’re going to get fired, especially something like this. It has to do with the safety of his own health as well as the people who are coming to support and watch him.”
But Perez’s promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, has not formally released Perez, “because that’s not the way to go about things at this time,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer.
“I mean, first of all, you want to make sure that you’ve had a conversation with him, and you know, he’s going to have to get help. This is a difficult time for him and his family, and, so, to just go and release him, I don’t think that’s the way to go about things,” said Schaefer.
“Obviously, it was very disappointing and at the same time, it’s very sad. It’s sad when you have an athlete like Eloy who is caught up in drugs, if, in fact, that is the case. So, I hope that if in fact that is the case, that he’s going to get help, and we wish him the best.”
Perez could not be reached for comment, but his publicist, Rachel Charles, confirmed that the fighter has not yet been released by Golden Boy, adding that Garcia Management is attempting to work with Perez and to assist him in finding help.
“I believe that everyone deserves a second chance, because we all make mistakes. Right now, the main focus is getting Eloy the help that he needs,” said Charles.
“We’ll see what happens with his career as we move forward, but right now, he needs help, and I think that it’s great that Golden Boy isn’t going to make any moves to end his contract, because right now, it’s not the right time.”
Tim Lueckenhoff, the executive director of Missouri Office of Athletics, could not immediately be reached for comment. Charles said Perez has not yet been notified of when his hearing will take place.
“We’ve been a family to Eloy, and we’ve tried to guide him as a human being as well as a fighter. This is not something where we’re just saying, ‘you did something wrong, and now we’re going to punish you.’ We’ve guided him as a young man, and we’ve tried to work with him and to teach him,” said Sam Garcia.
“But we have to take that tough stance, because my family works with a lot of kids go who into homes with their aunts and uncles and grandparents to live many times because of the drug abuse of their own parents. So we can’t tolerate that sort of thing at all. That’s how we’ve always been. Hopefully, this is a lesson that he will learn from.”
Sam Garcia said that his family “is still here for Eloy.”
“It’s either one of two things: He’s a chronic user because it was in his system, or he did it before the fight. In either regard, we feel like there is a problem there, and that it’s a big problem. But my parents and I are still reaching out to him to get him the advice that he needs, if he needs advice or to get the help that he needs if he needs help. We certainly feel like he needs help after testing positive for cocaine,” said Sam Garcia.
“So it’s not like we’re turning our backs on Eloy. We’ve definitely cut him as a fighter, but as a person in his personal life, we’re here, you know? We’re reaching out to him, we’re texting him, we’re calling him, and now, it’s up to him to get the help and advice from my parents, who are experienced in dealing with young people who have gone through this kind of situation. They know what direction to point him in. We have not abandoned him. It’s nothing like that.”
Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org