Home Columns Should Boxing Ease Up on Pot?

Should Boxing Ease Up on Pot?

Credit: Will Hart - HBO
Chavez, Jr.: not exactly the average potheadCredit: Will Hart - HBO
Chavez, Jr.: not exactly the average pothead
Credit: Will Hart – HBO

Seems like a lot of fighters are being fined and suspended for the hippie lettuce lately. We saw Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. get docked almost a million dollars for testing positive. You’d think he was busted transporting it. When you see it get judged as harshly as steroids or other PEDs, you don’t have to be Seth Rogen to think that might be way off-base.

You could make a case for almost any recreational drug being performance-enhancing. No one wants guys blasting lines of blow in the dressing room or smoking meth off of foil before coming into the ring. But if anything, the opponent should have to kick in some money if a fighter tests positive for weed. What possible advantage could it give a fighter?

By now, we’ve all been around people who are high on weed. Here’s some things you’ll never hear them say:

“Get me into a boxing ring immediately.”

“I feel like whippin’ someone’s ass right now.”

“Someone please put me through the paces in a boxing gym.”

“I feel I could really slip some punches right now.”

Not to be flippant about it. It’s aggravating to see a fighter jeopardize his career because he can’t refrain from pot. You’re supposed to smoke pot like that when you have nothing going on, not if you have title fights lined up. It suggests a personality defect when a guy with so much to lose can’t for the life of him ease up on the bong-hits for a month.

It just seems strange that a guy can be a drunk and not be fined or suspended because they don’t test for that. Or a guy can be a coke-head, ease up a few days before the fight, and not have a problem. Do they even test for LSD? Didn’t Dock Ellis throw a no-hitter on acid once?

It never brings out the best of a point to compare it to things that are worse. It’s cringeworthy when people justify weed on the basis of it being better for you than other bad things. At the same time, who are we to judge a grown man’s leisure activities? A guy puts his life on the line and someone has the gall to nitpick about what intoxicants he uses? Coke is one thing. But what’s the difference between getting high on pot weed and drinking 4 beers? Why can one fighter blow his brains out on Wild Turkey, but another fighter can’t puff a little? It’s splitting hairs for athletic commissions to even be in the business of ranking mild intoxicants.

Neither are desirable. I don’t want my money anywhere near a bet on a fighter who is passing the dutchie on the left hand side during camp. Even if it never becomes totally legal, the powers-that-be need to ease off a bit. Taking a third of a guy’s purse and then denying him a win in the event that he’s victorious is excessive, is it not? Imagine if Chavez, Jr. had made 20 million. The Nevada commission would have felt justified in taking over 6 million dollars? They’re not the police. How do they arrive at these figures?

PEDs are an area of attention. When one area is the obvious and compelling enemy, we need to take some attention off the other normal targets. It’s time to establish parameters for how we are going to deal with the full scope of PED use. It’s like if you have a flood in your house. You would put cleaning the counter on the back-burner. Point blank–PEDs are dangerous to the other guy. Weed isn’t.

The guys who test positive for weed aren’t exactly Smokey from Friday. They were presumably trying to at least beat the test and probably had close to nothing in their system. The commissions’ urge to keep the sport clean is well-intentioned. No one is saying to allow full-blown potheads to fight. Perhaps we could just raise the tolerable level and lower the fine and suspension time. Let’s just inject a moderate dose of common-sense into it.

Otherwise, it comes across like the guys in charge are clueless or at the very least, ogreish in their punishment. One of these days, a fighter is going to win a major fight and will be denied credit for it and lose millions of dollars. All because he had a tiny piece of weed a few weeks beforehand. It seems like there is a way for the commissions to keep the sport clean without being so meddlesome and heavy-handed about trace amounts of a substance that never won a fight for anyone in the first place.