ALL THESE YEARS later, it turns out Brother Charles Klein was right.
Klein was my high school chemistry teacher. Once, after he chided me for my seeming lack of interest in his course, I told him that it was not my intention to become a chemist and that upon obtaining a passing grade, I no doubt would quickly forget the atomic weight of every element on the periodic table. Good man that he was, he patiently responded to my impertinence by saying the information he had endeavored to plant in my brain someday might prove useful.
Flash forward a few decades and science-resistant sports writers grudgingly have had "steroids" introduced into our vocabularies, as well as a lot of hard-to-spell words for which I gladly would enlist someone like Klein to be my interpreter.
Used to be, fighters prepared for a bout by tossing around a medicine ball, skipping rope, hitting the heavy bag, doing lots of roadwork and sparring guys with styles similar to that of their next opponent.
But success invariably breeds imitation, and there is no more successful fighter on the planet than WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), who defends his title against three-division former champ Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) on May 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. If something is working for Pacquiao, expect other high-visibility fighters to copy whatever he's doing in the hope it'll work just as well for them.
Pacquiao-Mosley will be televised via Showtime pay-per-view.
A quarter-century after the unconventional methods of a conditioning guru named Mackie Shilstone helped a bulked-up Michael Spinks upset Larry Holmes and become the first lightheavyweight champion to win a heavyweight crown, a new generation of testtubers is really putting the science into the sweet science. Hearing Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, expound on what he brings to the Filipino superstar's training regimen and it's immediately apparent that this old-school boxing writer is hopelessly out of his comfort zone.
Although Floyd Mayweather Jr. continues to drop hints that the 32-year-old Pacquiao's sustained excellence in reconfiguring his body from 106 scrawny pounds to 147 sculpted ones is the result of performance-enhancing drugs, Ariza, who earned a bachelor of science degree from San Diego State and completed 2 years of training at Health Science College of Medicine, says the chemical cocktails he whips up for "PacMan" meet all legal standards.
"Procasa, for his joints," Ariza said in an interview with Fighthype.com. "The mega antioxidants, they're used for fatty acids. Then you have the Proflavanol C, which is actually a coenzyme for his immune system. The Hepasil is for liver and kidney support."
Ariza claimed to have "unparalleled knowledge" in cellular nutrition, kinesiology, high-intensity interval training, perpetual muscle confusion, integrative flexibility training and a wide array of therapeutic modalities that correct muscular dysfunction.
Almost makes you believe that the exquisite strategies laid out by Pacquiao's chief second, Freddie Roach, a five-time trainer of the year as voted on by the Boxing Writers Association of America, are as mundane as a kindergartener drawing stick figures with crayons.
Kennedy on HBO's fringes
What's nearly as good as a fighter making his televised debut on HBO? Making his non-televised debut on a card in which other fighters are getting HBO face time.
At least that's the opinion of Philadelphia-based promoter J Russell Peltz, who hopes his guy, USBA super bantamweight champion Teon Kennedy (16-0-1, 7 KOs), makes the most of what essentially is an HBO audition when he defends his minor title against Jorge Diaz (15-0, 9 KOs), of New Brunswick, N.J., Saturday night in Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall.
"HBO might show highlights of Teon's fight, like they did with Mike Jones when he fought Hector Munoz last April on a show headlined by Kelly Pavlik," Peltz recalled.
The HBO-televised main event on Saturday pits WBA featherweight champ Yuriokis Gamboa (19-0, 15 KOs) against Jorge Solis (40-2-2, 29 KOs).
Jones, a rising welterweight contender from North Philly who also is promoted by Peltz, fought once more off-TV after stopping Munoz in five rounds, with his following two ring appearances, both against Jesus Soto-Karass, televised by HBO.
"It would be better if ESPN or ShoBox had the intelligence to televise this fight, but since they don't, this is the next-best thing," Peltz said of Kennedy-Diaz. "If Teon wins and looks good, he'll be there soon [on HBO]. He's already ranked No. 3 [by the IBF] in the world with very little exposure, much as Jones was."
Fighters urge pit stop
Drivers in and around Camden might have taken notice of a billboard campaign unveiled yesterday, featuring longtime former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins and welterweight contender Mike Jones, that urges dog owners to take advantage of free spaying and neutering services aimed at curtailing an exploding pit-bull population.
"I'm happy to lend my name and likeness to this great cause," said Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs), who takes on WBC light-heavyweight titlist Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs) on May 21 in Montreal's Bell Centre in a rematch of their controversial majority draw on Dec. 18 in Quebec City. "As an owner of a pit, this is a project that is near and dear to me."
New Jersey Aid for Animals, which is sponsoring the campaign, notes that about 80 percent of dogs brought to Camden animal shelters are pit bulls. Hopkins said he donated $10,000 to the shelter. *
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