Another rematch was canceled last night after it was announced that former welterweight champion Andre Berto tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone. The highly anticipated rematch with Victor Ortiz scheduled for June 23 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles is the second cancelation in two weeks as a result of failed random drug tests administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
It is the belief of Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO Laboratories and supplementary consultant to numerous professional athletes, including Berto, that the positive test result in this case may be due to a contaminated supplement that was not provided by the nutrition guru. Berto also released a statement denying steroid use. A number of the rematches in boxing this year have been subject to some form of contamination, as well.
Ortiz – Berto II was first plagued in January 2012 when Berto tore a left bicep two weeks before the originally scheduled February 11 bout, forcing postponement of the fight. Early reports indicated that the rematch would be held on June 30 but the date was subsequently changed to June 23 after Golden Boy Promotions decided to change the venue to Los Angeles once the Lamont Peterson vs Amir Khan fight scheduled for May 19 was moved to Las Vegas.
Ironically, the Peterson- Khan rematch also turned out to be doomed after Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone. As a result, the May 19 card was canceled in its entirety last week while the June 23 event will proceed without Berto's participation. While it is positive that the card was able to be salvaged, it will not be the Ortiz fight we were all looking forward to seeing.
Berto is not only left without a rematch, but he is also without a championship since he opted to relinquish the IBF belt that he won from Jan Zaveck in September 2011 to fight Ortiz.
Although the other high profile rematches of 2012 do not involve failed drug tests, they carry a different form of contamination.
The Orlando Salido vs. Juan Manuel Lopez rematch in March 2012 was contaminated by horrific scoring. In a fight clearly dominated by the champion Salido, who ultimately won the hard fought battle with a tenth round TKO, two of the three judges had Lopez winning 86-84 and the third scored it even. Luckily, Salido took matters into his own hands and got the stoppage victory but the scoring taints the overall bout somewhat.
The rematch was further tainted by the post-fight accusations made by Lopez of referee Roberto Ramirez being a gambler and the relatively harsh punishment subsequently levied on Juanma by the WBO.
Lopez's one-year suspension was later reduced to 10-months, however, the Puerto Rican warrior is now required to undergo additional medical exams after complaining of "black-out" spells during three of his fights as reported by BoxingScene.com. Lopez reportedly experienced these spells during the March fight with Salido, leaving another black mark of sorts on the rematch.
The Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson light heavyweight rematch last month was plagued by a lack of action and intrigue one would expect from two talented fighters with a healthy level of animosity towards each other. Hopkins lacked the intensity in what could have conceivably been his last fight.
The upcoming fight between British heavyweights David Haye and Dereck Chisora is a rematch of sorts. Although they have never faced each other in the ring, their July 14 fight in London is viewed as a sanctioned continuation of the scuffle that took place between them at the February 18 post-fight press conference in Munich.
Depending on your point of view, the mere fact that this fight is taking place could be considered a contamination of the entire sport of boxing. The threats made by the various governing bodies who object to the bout taking place have sparked a feud that could lead to long, drawn out legal battles that are never pretty.
Some observers have expressed interest in a rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto. Until Mayweather is subject to the same extent of testing as those used for the Peterson and Berto fights (ie; VADA), as opposed to the carefully crafted tests and terms that he has been permitted to dictate when it comes to this topic, let's stop heralding him as the pioneer of drug testing in boxing.
If such a fight ever does take place, it will be very interesting to see if VADA testing is administered to ensure another rematch is not contaminated.
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