IBF Does Right by Lamont Peterson

By Robert Ecksel on August 11, 2012
IBF Does Right by Lamont Peterson
The May rematch was cancelled. Fingers pointed. Tongues wagged. It was heartbreaking.

No one ever mistook the IBF for being a paragon of virtue, unless being based in New Jersey can be considered virtuous…

“Boxing’s been my woman for so long, I wouldn’t want to say anything that might hurt her.”—Archie Moore

It’s reasonable to want boxing to be clean, even though it’s antithetical to its nature and history. It’s also reasonable for a man to want his woman to be hygienic (and vice-versa). But if our seemingly reasonable desires aren’t met, should we show boxing and the missus (or mister) the door?

Not necessarily.

Testing for PEDs in boxing has been long overdue. It may even top the list that includes sequestering judges, reducing the number of divisions, and having weigh-ins on the day of a fight. The problem is once we start picking apart the sport, it could go on forever. Reform is no substitute for revolution.

Shenanigans are part and parcel of sweet science. But it’s not boxing’s fault. Boxing, unlike corporations, aren’t people. People run boxing, money is its lifeblood, and when people and money touch gloves the consumer, no less than the fair-minded, need to prepare for the worst.

When Lamont Peterson tested positive two weeks before the rematch with Amir Khan for the WBA/IBF junior welterweight titles he won in December, all hell broke loose. The fight was cancelled. Fingers pointed. Tongues wagged. It was heartbreaking. But the mob wanted blood, Lamont Peterson’s blood, and justice by torch and pitchfork trampled sane discourse underfoot.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer led the charge and sent letters to the WBA and IBF demanding that they “rule the fight a no-contest” and “reinstate Amir Khan as their champion.”

The WBA responded first and its reaction was Pavlovian. Schaefer rang his bell (or their bell as the case may be) and the sanctioning body reflexively began to bark and salivate, before stripping Peterson of his crown.

No one ever mistook the IBF for being a paragon of virtue, unless being based in New Jersey can be considered virtuous. Its besmirched reputation, much of it on videotape, while a thing of the past, is a stain that’s not easily erased. But the IBF, to its credit, was considerably more measured in its response.

IBF President Daryl Peoples decided that an independent physician, with a background in internal medicine and endocrinology, rather than a boxing bureaucrat, was better qualified to examine Peterson’s medical records before making a determination.

He was right.

The IBF and the doctor it appointed concluded that “the testosterone levels noted in the VADA report are consistent with the therapeutic use of the hormone and not for the purpose of performance enhancement.”

In layperson’s terms that means the IBF has decided not to strip Peterson of his title.

When Peterson heard the news, he was elated. “I’m thankful,” he said, “and I’m thrilled with the IBF’s decision. I want to thank my manager, Barry Hunter, for all of his support throughout this ordeal. There were a lot of naysayers out there, but Barry and the rest of my team never doubted me. My team fought nonstop to ensure that I was cleared.”

“I’ve known Lamont his whole life and always had faith in him,” added Hunter. “We were certain that when all of the details were reviewed, Lamont would be cleared and allowed to move on with a title defense and his career.”

Peterson’s first title defense will be against Zab Judah, the IBF #1 ranked contender at 140. Judah, like Peterson, has been reborn in more ways than one, and we can expect a terrific fight when they meet in the not-too-distant future.

I’m happy for Peterson. I’m happy for Judah. I’m happy for boxing.

The IBF made my day.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. Matt McGrain 04:16am, 08/12/2012

    Speak, Hanzo.  Your one rep maximum is your one rep maximum in part because of your testosterone levels.  But IBF is a corporation.  They can give their belt to whomever they choose.  Choosing to give it to someone who tested positive for synthetic testosterone is rather, shall we say, typical.

  2. Hanzo 03:46am, 08/12/2012

    Yeah, too bad your Testosterone levels start declining in one’s early to mid-20’s. Just sayin’....

  3. Matt McGrain 03:35am, 08/12/2012

    One more thing and I did debate with myself before saying it.  I’d say this isn’t directed at Lamont but is a more general concern.

    One cause of low testosterone is extended abuse of steroids.

    We could have a situation brewing where fighters use steroids to bolster themselves in short-cycle steroid abuses during training before having testosterone prescribed when their level starts to naturally drop off - that is, this ruling introduces and validates a cure for the worst natural check and balance for an athlete who abuses PEDs of this kind.

  4. Matt McGrain 03:31am, 08/12/2012

    Peterson is a good man.  Of that I have no doubt.

    The situation now - any athlete can make an arrangement with a doctor to diagnose “lower than average” testosterone levels (which happens to lots and lots of people - otherwise there wouldn’t be “an average”) and away the fighter goes with a PRESCRIBED benefit.  Of course it is performance enhancing.  It is the body’s NATURAL heart - it’s the thing that gets you through in training when you want to quit.

    If you have low testosterone levels, perhaps you are not cut out to be a top athlete?  This is the athlete’s hormone.

    I’m uncomfortable with the ruling.

  5. Hanzo 08:16am, 08/11/2012

    Excellent article. Made my day.

  6. the thresher 06:18am, 08/11/2012

    A Cynican Fan makes a good point here.

  7. A Cynical Fan 06:07am, 08/11/2012

    My gut instincts have been wrong many times over the years, but something told me that Lamont Peterson is too decent and proud a man to purposely do something dishonorable. My gut also tells me that Amir Khan and Richie Rich Schaefer knew in their hearts that was the case, but jumped on the bandwagon anyway. I’m glad that Daryl Peoples showed some principle and common sense in this case and didn’t cave in to the all powerful and bullying forces of Golden Boy Promotions.

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