Oscar Valdez will defend his WBC junior lightweight title against Robson Conceicao at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Ariz. on Friday night.
And it should have never come down to this at all.
Last week, news broke that Valdez had tested positive for the stimulant phentermine from samples collected Aug. 13. Instead of cancelling the bout and suspending Valdez, the WBC gave a litany of reasons as to why it's allowing the fight to go on as planned.
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The governing body pointed out how bookend samples collected from Valdez on July 22 and Aug. 30 both tested negative. It extended to say that phentermine has "no documented in-competition performance enhancing effect or advantages."
The WBC also pointed to Valdez being "tested negative in numerous antidoping tests including more than 30 as a professional" and how he'll be "taking a substantial number of random antidoping tests in the next six months as determined by the WBC-CBP."
The governing body even shared how it's placing Valdez in probation status for a period of 12 months explaining how "any whereabouts failure or adverse analytical finding during the probationary period will result in an indefinite suspension from all WBC activity, immediate suspension of recognition of any WBC privilege (championship or status) until the matter is resolved; and being shown as Not Available in WBC World ratings."
All stipulation explanations reek of the WBC essentially saying out loud that this Valdez-Conceicao fight took too much work to make and that there's too much money on the table to squander it at this point. Putting money and greed above the health and welfare of fighters — a problem in boxing just like the sport's entire antidoping rules.
Just like judges watching 36 minutes of a men's fight — 24 minutes of a women's fight — only to inexplicably decide the bout in favor of the clear loser.
Just like boxing simply having too many titles with governing bodies sweeping up sanctioning fees.
Just like the big fights in boxing simply taking too long to happen or never happening at all.
Just like the pay for women boxers not stacking up to their male counterparts.
Just like allowing a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield box this weekend.
And the list goes on.
The minute the WBC discovered Valdez's positive stimulant sample from Aug. 13, it should have scrapped his fight against Conceicao, vacated his title and had Conceicao and another contender vie it out for rights to claim the title. It should have also suspended Valdez on the spot.
Not doing so has rightfully opened up Valdez and his camp, led by trainer Eddy Reynoso, to criticism. In the aftermath of last week's news that Valdez would be allowed to defend his title Friday night despite the positive result, Devin Haney jabbed “Eddy Reynoso whole camp on that s—t,” accompanied with an emoji of a syringe, in a scathing tweet.
Gervonta Davis tweeted: “Lol…so we using stimulants to enhance our performance now. Bet” to which Shakur Stevenson replied with a trio of laughing emojis.
I interviewed Stevenson earlier in the week and he was just as stinging with his assessment as he is with his clean punching in the ring.
“I don’t think they gave him any type of punishment,” Stevenson said. “They kind of gave him a slap on the wrist for something that’s like … that he shouldn’t be doing. This is boxing at the end of the day. Somebody could get hurt. At the end of the day, people are dying in the ring. I don’t know why Oscar Valdez should (only) get a slap on the wrist.”
He added: “This is a dangerous sport. This isn’t the sport you should be cheating in. I feel like you should really get punished. I just feel like it’s wrong.”
Without a doubt.
“I have never used banned substances to enhance my performance,” Valdez said in his statement. “I have never done it. I have been respectful of the anti-doping rules since I was an amateur, Olympian and now professional.”
He added: “I will happily comply with the stipulations set forth by the World Boxing Council, to collaborate in the programs, tests and other activities required of me.”
But despite his plead, a positive result for a stimulant is a positive result for a stimulant. It's wrong ... even if done unconsciously (let's just say for argument sake.) It should have been dealt with swiftly via a cancellation.
Instead, a see-through lack of judgment has this Valdez-Conceicao bout sanctioned and taking place. All wrong and a decision like this erodes some of the great things happening in boxing.
All being said, Conceicao is going to have newfound fans cheering him on to pull off the upset tonight.