Analysis: Canelo Alvarez needs to give an explanation for failing drug tests

Canelo Alvarez has every right to embrace the self-confidence that comes with being the world’s most popular boxer.

However, that attitude is being perceived by many — from the public to Nevada commissioners — as arrogance.

And if Alvarez doesn’t clear up why he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, the Mexican fighter’s highly anticipated May 5 rematch against Gennady Golovkin will be canceled.

“The problem,” one official close to the situation told the Los Angeles Times this week, “is that Golden Boy can’t control Canelo.”


Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, has sought to cooperate with the Nevada Athletic Commission by turning over documentation they say is connected to the purchase and consumption of contaminated beef the fighter and promoter say caused his two positive February test results for Clenbuterol.

The first positive sample, collected Feb. 17, was 10 times greater than the second sample taken Feb. 20. Both levels were described as “low” by one expert.

What could help clarify the matter, with the Nevada commission scheduled to determine at an April 10 meeting if the fight will proceed, is Alvarez’s voice.

But Alvarez has retreated into his gym in San Diego and, save for social media barbs sent to Golovkin, has stayed silent about the failed tests.

A planned meeting with a small group of reporters was scheduled for early this week, then canceled shortly before the gathering was to take place.

Boxers Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin face off after a news conference at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live where they announced their rematch will take place on May 5.
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images )

HBO has stopped promoting the fight and other publicity plans have screeched to a halt over fears that the bout will be canceled.

And with Alvarez’s silence, Golovkin’s words have been magnified.

A dubious scorecard turned in by judge Adalaide Byrd in the September draw with Alvarez has added fuel to Golovkin’s claim that he expects leniency in favor of the popular fighter who would generate millions by fighting in Las Vegas on Cinco de Mayo.

“The commission … they all put their heads down to avoid the eye contact,” Golovkin said of the moment when Byrd’s 118-110 scorecard was read. “These people are terrorists. They are killing the sport, not just me. The way it was portrayed … this is America, this is democracy. Boxing business is very big corruption.”

So the Nevada commission finds itself boxed into a corner to save face.

Alvarez has an opportunity to change the narrative by convincingly professing his innocence, but he has chosen the path of stubbornness, a trait he also exhibited in his bickering with the World Boxing Council over the middleweight belt last year.

Hiding now furthers the perception floated by Golovkin that Alvarez has something to hide.

Alvarez could appear, look reporters in the eye and speak in front of cameras to hammer home the documented point of how difficult it is to prove that a .06 Clenbuterol level didn’t come from contaminated beef and tell Golovkin to settle this matter in the ring.

When a supporter told Alvarez on Twitter last week that he hopes the fight is canceled so Golovkin can return to bouts with lesser purses, Alvarez replied in Spanish, “Don’t ask for that. I want to get back at that [guy].”

Like it or not, Alvarez needs to face the accusations, and, without question, explain himself fully to the Nevada commission when it determines his fate next month.

If he doesn’t, don’t be stunned if the fight is stripped away too.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire