LAS VEGAS – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao may be penalized by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for failing to disclose his shoulder injury ahead of his “Fight of the Century” against Floyd Mayweather Jr., the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Pacquiao suffered a shoulder injury in training camp with three weeks to go before fight night, but elected to push through with the bout. He was under the impression that he will be allowed to take an anti-inflammatory injection to numb the pain in his shoulder before the match started.
The NSAC barred him from taking the injection, however, and Pacquiao went on to fight Mayweather anyway. He said he aggravated the injury in the third round, and wound up losing a unanimous decision.
NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar told AP that the state attorney general’s office “will look at why Pacquiao checked ‘no’ a day before the fight on a commission questionnaire asking if he had a shoulder injury.”
“We will gather all the facts and follow the circumstances. At some point, we will have some discussion. As a licensee of the commission, you want to make sure the fighters are giving you up-to-date information,” he said.
The AP reported that Pacquiao may face a fine or suspension for failing to answer the question accurately. The form was filled out before weigh-in on Friday last week.
A copy of the form was posted on the True.Ink website and showed that it was signed by both Pacquiao and his adviser, Michael Koncz. (Look at the form here.)
In a statement released Tuesday, Pacquiao’s team said they notified the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) – which was in charge of the drug testing protocol for the bout – of the shoulder injury that the boxer suffered, as well as the treatment that the doctors proposed for training and on the night of the fight itself.
“USADA spoke to Manny’s doctors twice, investigated, and confirmed in writing that the proposed treatments, if used, were completely allowed,” Team Pacquiao said. “The medication approved for the fight was a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Toradol).”
Team Pacquiao said the “Pacman” continued training, and that his shoulder was already improving in camp. “Manny decided to proceed with the fight anticipating that he could receive his pre-fight treatment,” which had been approved by USADA, the team said.
Team Pacquiao further said that in a pre-fight medical form, Pacquiao’s advisors listed all the medication that the boxer used in camp, as well as the medication that he will use on fight night. But as Pacquiao’s doctors began the treatment, the NSAC stopped it saying they were unaware of the boxer’s injury.
Aguilar said after the fight that he was only made aware of Pacquiao’s shoulder injury a couple of hours before the fight.
“This was disappointing to Team Pacquiao, since they had disclosed the injury and treatment to USADA, USADA approved the treatments, and Manny had listed the medication on his pre-fight medical form,” Team Pacquiao said.
The team further said that USADA “provided a copy of its contract with the fighters to the Commission.”
But USADA’s Travis Tygart told AP that the agency was “only a third party to the fight, charged only with testing the fighters for banned substances in training and the night of the bout.”
Tygart said they had no medical information or any copy of an MRI scan or other documents.
“It was not an anti-doping issue,” Tygart told AP. “The real question is why his camp checked ‘no’ on the disclosure.”
“Either they made a terrible mistake not to follow the rules, or they were trying not to give information to the other side. I’m not sure there’s a middle ground,” he added.
Meanwhile, NSAC executive director Bob Bennett said of the situation: “It’s not just the fact that (Pacquiao) didn’t fill out the question completely. It was that he wasn’t honest and they didn’t tell us a month ago when he had the shoulder injury.”
“They’re not obligated to, but two hours before the fight, they wanted a shot that’s a pain-killer in essence. That put us in a very precarious position,” he added.
Some have wondered why Pacquiao did not ask for a postponement of the bout. The boxer told reporters yesterday that it was considered by his team, but eventually decided not to as they did not want to disappoint fans who waited for over half a decade for the bout. Moreover, his shoulder got better in the weeks leading up to the fight.
“As Manny has said multiple times, he makes no excuses,” Team Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao is now set to undergo surgery on his injured right shoulder, which has a “significant tear” on the rotator cuff, according to an ESPN report. He is expected to be out for at least six months.