SPORTS

Pascal, champion Cloud opt for ''clean'' IBF light heavyweight title fight

06/13/2012 04:51 EDT | Updated 08/13/2012 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - Jean Pascal made drug-testing an issue before he lost his World Boxing Council title to veteran Bernard Hopkins last year but he won't have that debate when he attempts to win another belt from Tavoris Cloud.

Montreal's Pascal (26-2-1, 16 knockouts) and International Boxing Federation light heavyweight champion Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) have both agreed to random urine and blood tests ahead of their Aug. 11 bout at the Bell Centre.

They are among a growing number of professional boxers demanding full testing. Already this year former world champions Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto were caught using banned substances.

''I have to have respect for this man (Cloud), he agreed to take the tests,'' Pascal said Wednesday as he joined Cloud, wire-haired promoter Don King and others at a promotional news conference. ''When you see a legend like Bernard Hopkins, who didn't agree to take the test to show the world that we are clean athletes in a clean sport, it shocked me.

''So I take my hat off to Cloud. Also, he's the champion. I have to respect him. But I also think I'm better than him.''

The fight for Cloud's IBF belt will come more than 15 months after Pascal's last bout, a crushing defeat by 12-round decision to the 46-year-old Hopkins at the Bell Centre. The two had fought to a draw in an earlier meeting in Quebec City.

The U.S. specialty channel Showtime will air bout between 29-year-old Pascal and 30-year-old Cloud, who are widely considered to be among the world's top three or four light heavyweights.

Pascal raised a fuss over drug testing before his last meeting with Hopkins, repeatedly shouting ''take the test'' at the long-time middleweight king at a news conference. Hopkins considered legal action for slander, but Pascal has not backed off that topic.

''(Hopkins) can say whatever he wants, the fact is he didn't agree to take the test,'' Pascal said. ''It's like a DUI. When you don't take it, you're guilty.''

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was the first prominent boxer to demand testing as a condition for a proposed bout with Manny Pacquiao, although some interpreted that as a means of avoiding the gifted Filipino.

Now it has become more common, and fighters are getting caught.

Peterson failed a random test March 19 leading to a scheduled rematch with Amir Khan. He later admitted to having had a steroid injected in his hip before taking away the English fighter's two light welterweight titles. He now faces losing the belts and a ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Berto's positive test for a steroid forced the cancellation of a scheduled June 23 bout against WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz.

King cautioned that some boxers should be careful what they wish for when it comes to testing.

''You always say it's bad when the other guy's doing it and then you come out and you get caught doing it,'' the 80-year promoter said. ''As in: the fighters calling for the drug tests were the guys caught dirty. Berto, thou protesteth too much, as Shakespeare would say.''

His fighter Cloud said it was ''good that two fighters of this calibre can come together and agree to have Olympic-style testing and prove that boxing is a clean sport. I think it makes the sport look good.''

Most pro bouts require only a urine test either just before or just after the fight.

Boxing trainer and broadcaster Russ Anber said it is time for the various fight sanctioning bodies to catch up to other pro sports, such as baseball and the NFL, that have adopted tougher testing policies in recent years.

''We're behind the times,'' said Anber. ''It's time that the rules of the sport reflect the times in which we're living.

''It's a sad reality that PEDs exist. It's sad that people use it. But it's reality. Unless you're an ostrich, you have to address those issues if your objective is to have a clean sport and clean athletes.''

These are tough times to promote boxing. There has also been bad publicity over Timothy Bradley's victory by decision Saturday over Pacquiao, who had been the better fighter in the eyes of many observers. His promoter Bob Arum said he was ''ashamed'' of boxing.

But not everyone saw it that way. Anber said he scored the bout a draw and mused that ''I must be the only human on earth who didn't see it as the robbery of the century.''

Both King and Pascal's promoter, Yvon Michel, as well as a Showtime representative weren't worried about fans being turned off the sport, saying the Pascal-Cloud fight should sell itself with two heavy punchers who like to attack.

''In Montreal, we won't have that kind of controversy,'' said King. ''We're going to have a war and it ain't going the distance.

''It won't be left in the hands of the judges. The left hand and the right hand will be the two judges, and it makes me feel fantastic. It'll be a great evening of boxing with honour, integrity and explosiveness.''

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