Larry Merchant Weighs in on drug testing and Berto Vs. Guerrero


The year of 2012 has been marred by drug testing and the controversy it has brought upon the sport. Whether it’s the cancellation of fights due to positive tests such as the case of Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson with Vada, samples being destroyed in the cases of Peter Quillin and ‘Winky’ Wright with USADA, or a failed positive test with the fight still moving forward as in the case of Erik Morales. The evidence of banned substances in the sport was as apparent as ever.

Fast forward months later, Andre Berto is getting a world title shot and payday against Robert Guerrero, and Lamont Peterson is set to defend his IBF Jr welterweight crown — quite possibly against Kendall Holt. Longtime HBO commentator Larry Merchant has seen plenty and has a simple opinion on the matter.

“I think there should be the toughest, most reliable drug tests that fighters at this level have to go through and the punishment should make the risk-reward equation so much, so high, that the risk becomes riskier. In other words, if I get caught and I’m going to be sit down for 2 years, is the risk worth that? Berto hasn’t fought in quite while I believe. I just think that they have to make the risk so high, fewer fighters are going to try and do it. The tests have to be good enough that they can easily dodge them,” explained Merchant.

However, who conducts the tests and carries out the punishment plays a very important role in the equation. According to Merchant, “There are too many of these jurisdictions that take tests after the fight. There has to be a regiment that fighters are given, the kind of test that athletes in other sports have to take. That’s where I stand, when they’re caught they should pay a price like (Antonio) Margarito had a pay a price with loaded gloves. This is loading your body like he is loading his gloves. He paid a price for being out of action for a year and a half. He missed significant fights and pay days. There are always guys desperate enough to try and find an advantage and you got to try and discourage them.”

To Merchant, Berto seemingly has paid a hefty price for his positive test. Now it’s time to look forward to Guerrero and maybe a change in his team is necessary.  “It could be a good fight, I’m not disputing that at all. The fact that Berto hasn’t fought in a year and half, maybe it’s time to give him a chance. Maybe he shouldn’t parade around with a drug felon on these issues as his advisor. How about that? How crazy can that be? Only in boxing.”