Canelo Alvarez is the bad guy, perhaps for the first time in his career. The middleweight superstar, who twice in February tested positive for a banned substance, is solely responsible for the mega-rematch with Gennady Golovkin on May 5 in Las Vegas being in jeopardy.
Alvarez is at fault no matter whether you choose to believe his explanation that he ate contaminated meat while in his native Mexico or whether you believe he knowingly took PEDs.
Contaminated beef is becoming less common in Mexico than it was several years ago, but it remains an issue. But even if you buy Alvarez’s argument that it was contaminated beef, that’s not good enough to get him off the hook. Nevada’s rules say the fighter is responsible for what is in his or her body, and Alvarez has been tested enough to know that.
He easily could have imported his food, for however long he planned to be in Mexico, to avoid the problem. Money is not an issue for Alvarez.
The other possibility, that Alvarez knowingly took Clenbuterol, gambling that it would leave his system and he would receive its benefits before he was tested, is more sinister.
In either scenario, though, the fault lies on him and his failures have put the fight in serious jeopardy.
Barring anything unexpected happening at his April 18 disciplinary hearing in Las Vegas, Alvarez will be suspended anywhere from six months to one year, and he’ll be ineligible to fight in the U.S. until the suspension is served.
While MGM Resorts has begun issuing refunds to those who request them, the fight still isn’t officially off, and won’t be until the April 18 hearing concludes.
Unless, of course, Alvarez steps up sooner to take action.
Outside of Alvarez being able to prove he was pinned down and someone shoved Clenbuterol tablets into his mouth and forced him to swallow them, he’s going to be suspended, contaminated beef or not.
According to executive director Bob Bennett’s complaint against him, “Alvarez’s utilization, ingestion and/or consumption of Clenbuterol, whether intentional or not, constitutes an anti-doping violation.”
Later, the complaint notes, it is the duty of each fighter “to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his or her body … ”
There are people who were going to fly to Las Vegas from all parts of the world to attend the fight who are in limbo, and who will lose a lot of money by waiting to see what happens on April 18. It will also make it vastly more difficult for HBO Sports and Golovkin’s team to come up with an alternate fight and properly promote it.
However, Alvarez could make all of it go away and begin the process of rehabilitating his now tarnished image.
He should essentially cop a plea and withdraw from the fight. Alvarez should tell the world, A) he doesn’t know how Clenbuterol got into his body, but accepts that it was there and will accept the penalties Nevada plans to assess, B) that he knows Cinco de Mayo is a major holiday for Mexicans and many of his fans planned to celebrate by going to Las Vegas for the fight so he is withdrawing from the fight in order for Golovkin to have sufficient time to find an opponent fans will enjoy seeing him box, and C) that he will serve his suspension and promise to meet Golovkin at the first available opportunity when the suspension ends.
Should he do that, he’ll grab the upper hand in this scenario. Everyone makes mistakes. The athletes who have most suffered from their PED usage are the ones who were defiant, who wouldn’t admit what was obvious to everyone else: Their bulging muscles and ever-growing skulls weren’t the product of a few additional reps in the gym.
Those, however, who fess up, apologize and vow to do better generally earn back the respect of the public.
Alvarez is a proud man and isn’t the type to humble himself.
But he’d be doing his sport and his many fans a huge favor by not allowing this to drag on for nearly three more weeks. Address it head on, pull out, vow to come back clean and ready to fight your heart out, and the fans will forgive and forget.
Anything less and that “Clenelo” nickname he’s been unofficially handed might stick.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• NFL staring down another Kaepernick-like problem with Reid
• Rusty Staub, beloved Mets star, dies at 73
• Ronda Rousey explains what drew her to WWE
• Young Tiger was warned about Michael Jordan