ONE can only hope that the meat former middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez consumed was really good because it just cost him millions of dollars - and possibly his reputation, too.
In September 2017, Alvarez bankrolled $20 million in his first showdown with unified (WBC, WBA, and IBF) middleweight king Gennady Golovkin which ended in a draw. Alvarez was guaranteed a whole lot more for the highly-anticipated rematch scheduled on May 5, but the fight was called off after the Mexican turned in two positive doping tests that resulted in his temporary suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC). Golovkin was actually willing to push through with the fight after Alvarez flunked the initial test, but the NAC decided to pull the plug following another positive test.
Alvarez showed traces of the prohibited steroid clenbuterol in his system in February. Clenbuterol, a drug used to treat asthma, is regularly given to animals in China and Mexico to increase lean muscle mass and improve the overall livestock production. Clenbuterol is not for human consumption and appears on the list of banned substances (classified as a steroid) of all major anti-doping agencies. It can be abused by athletes to cut fat quickly and build lean muscle. Throughout his boxing career, the stocky Alvarez has been hounded by weight issues.
Alvarez blamed contaminated Mexican meat consumed presumably while training in Guadalajara. Officials of the World Boxing Council (WBC) were quick to support Alvarez, but this is understandable considering that the WBC is headed by a Mexican and stands to lose its share of the hefty sanctioning fees if the lucrative rematch is called off.
As things stand, Alvarez has a lot of explaining to do before the NAC. Good faith can be presumed on the initial positive test, but a second similar result definitely raises eyebrows. Unknown to many, the trainers of Alvarez (Eddy and Chepo Reynoso) used to be meat butchers so they are supposed to be knowledgeable about the matter. Alvarez is also a wealthy man and it is difficult to understand why he cannot hire qualified people who can monitor his food consumption.
Alvarez should have been on guard considering that several Mexican boxing champions had previously tested positive for clenbuterol. In 2012, Erik Morales failed several tests for clenbuterol but was still allowed to fight Danny Garcia in Houston. In 2016, then junior lightweight champ Francisco Vargas also tested positive for the banned substance before his fight with Orlando Salido, a former champ who had also tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone in 2006. In 2017, then bantamweight champ Luis Nery also tested positive for zilpaterol, a drug similar to clenbuterol. Morales and Vargas were permitted to enter the ring while Nery was not stripped of his WBC bantamweight plum. Perhaps Alvarez thought he could get away with it, too. Apparently, NAC officials have had enough of it and refused to lift the suspension, thus resulting in the fight’s cancellation.
The fight was officially cancelled following Alvarez’s formal withdrawal. The withdrawal is important because it is Alvarez’s way of showing respect to the decision of the NAC. A hearing is scheduled this week and if Alvarez’s camp comes up with a sufficient explanation, the suspension could only last six months.
It is worth noting that under NAC rules, the date of the suspension is computed from the time of the positive date, February, which means that if it is lifted in August, the rematch can still push through in September. Mexico celebrates its independence day on September 16, so a rematch on this date remains significant and historic for Latino fight fans.