In the court of public opinion you’re judged differently by those who like you and those that don’t like you. And that’s the position Canelo Alvarez is in. Regardless of what the Nevada State Athletic Commission rules on April 10th pertaining to Alvarez twice testing positive for clenbuterol, opinion will be split and everyone loses.
If the commission finds there were only trace amounts of clenbuterol in his system consistent with eating contaminated meat, those who are rooting for that to be the case will be satisfied and go after anyone who disputes the finding. And the faction who won’t believe anything supporting his innocence will figure the commission was paid off so that the big money rematch with WBA/WBC/IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin can go through as scheduled on May 5th.
On the other hand, if it is determined that his levels were more in line with someone who was no doubt looking for a performance enhancing advantage, those for him will try to foist on others that this was his first time. And those who are more adversarial toward him will say that no one gets caught their first time and will call into question his entire career.
Most likely that’s how it will unfold in the people’s court. One thing is for sure…..whatever Canelo is doing or not doing, he was also doing it before the first fight. And if he was dirty, Golovkin and his trainer Abel Sanchez would have both been aware of it before last week when news of his failed tests became public. It’s disingenuous of them to be acting shocked this late in, unless they’re only using their “outrage” as a selling point or to gain them an advantage in the court of popular opinion.
The problem is none of us will ever know for sure if Canelo has knowingly been using any type of performance enhancers, and if he has been, he’s certainly not the only one and that’s why he’s not getting the benefit of any doubt. Moreover, because he’s such a high profile fighter, his bouts are more scrutinized than other fighters. And with him about to fight Gennady Golovkin in a rematch after their first fight ended in a controversial draw — with most observers seeing Golovkin as the winner — him testing positive for a banned substance couldn’t have come at a worse time. That’s because the decision in the first fight reinforced the opinion that you have to knock out Canelo or beat him by stoppage because he will always get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to how his bouts are scored. The fight ending in a draw didn’t hurt Canelo’s brand and set up the rematch perfectly for him to get a second shot at an aging fighter in GGG.
The rematch, if it goes forward (and that’s certainly not a given), is really a make or break fight for Alvarez. A loss to the almost 36-year-old GGG would diminish him as a draw at age 27. If he can’t beat Golovkin in two tries that’ll be what he will be most remembered for. Conversely, if he wins regardless of him testing clean, the cloud of suspicion will still be there, especially if it’s a close fight…with the mindset of most observers being he was aided by something that gave him just enough to pull the fight out and the commission looked the other way because his fights generate so much money and keep so many working. And sadly, that will not end after he fights Golovkin again. It will hover over him for the rest of his career.
Prior to him twice testing positive for clenbuterol, I was picking him to beat Golovkin in May without any reservation, my thought being he showed during the first bout that he’s the more versatile fighter and much quicker than GGG, especially with his hands. In addition, I thought Golovkin showed age during the last half of the fight and regardless of what he says, he will not be better than he was the first time. Also, Golovkin couldn’t get off freely when he had Canelo’s back to the ropes when there was no incoming fire from him. So in my mind the rematch would go the distance and Canelo would win it without any controversy.
Well, we can forget about that now because Canelo is in a no-win position; even if he beats Golovkin he won’t get full credit. If he demolishes GGG it’ll be seen as tainted. If he struggles and beats him, many will believe he had an advantage. And if he loses, he’s done, making it harder to envision him losing by decision. So basically everybody loses because the most intriguing fight in boxing after Joshua vs. Wilder is now a mess and there’s a good chance it might not happen.
Unfortunately for Canelo he can only win in the eyes of his fan base. Boxing fans have no faith in the establishment and correctly believe that what’s best for business rules the day. Many fans believe that regardless of the amount of clenbuterol in Canelo’s system, the final determination will state it was only trace amounts consistent with eating contaminated meat just so the rematch can be salvaged and the rebuilding of Canelo’s brand can begin…and sadly that’s not even a reach.
The damage has been done. It won’t amount to being a career killer, but the perception of Canelo circumventing the rules is there for the duration of his boxing career.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com.
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