By Jake Donovan
It’s easy to understand why talk of performance enhancing drugs in boxing is a trigger topic for Deontay Wilder.
The subject came up during the most recent edition of Inside PBC Boxing, Wednesday evening on FS1. Reigning welterweight titlist and series co-host Shawn Porter served as moderator for a “Champions Only” segment in which Wilder (via satellite) joined Mikey Garcia, Caleb Plant and Leo Santa Cruz—all in studio—in discussing several topics.
Among them was PED use in boxing, specifically highlighting Jarrell Miller who blew a multi-million payday for a June 1 fight with unbeaten heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua after testing positive for three different substances through random drug testing.
Joshua remains on the hunt for a new opponent. Wilder has his own personal history with the unbeaten Brit, but can empathize with his current plight.
“Guys like that, drug cheats—they made me miss out on a lot of money,” Wilder (40-0-1, 39KO) stated during the segment. “They made go into some of the toughest moments of my career and reconsider boxing.
“I don’t have no place in my heart for a cheat. This sport is very serious and I’m always talking about risking our lives in the ring. When a guy uses any type of things to make his body perform some type of way it ain’t supposed to, I don’t have no respect for you.”
Wilder has seen three separate bouts altered due to opponents testing positive for banned substance. The unbeaten titlist was en route to Russia for a May ’16 title defense versus Alexander Povetkin before learning of his opponent testing positive for meldonium. The development killed the fight along with a payday north of $5 million for Wilder that would have come with the event.
Both of his scheduled fights in 2017 resulted in his original opponents testing positive for a banned substance.
Andrez Wawrzyk came up dirty for stanozolol ahead of a Feb. ’17 which instead went to Gerald Washington. Nine months later, Wilder was forced to settle for a rematch with mandatory challenger Bermane Stiverne—whom he beat for his first title win in Jan. ‘15—after originally scheduled opponent Luis Ortiz tested positive for two banned substances which were ultimately traced to undisclosed but prescribed blood pressure medication.
Miller’s circumstance, however takes cheating to an entirely new level. It’s even more unforgivable given his checkered past, including a failed drug test in 2014 and his refusal to prove in the aftermath that he’s a clean fighter, as he was dropped from the WBC rankings due to failing to enroll in its Clean Boxing Program.
“What he did is (inexcusable),” Wilder insists, at times shouting over the panel due to his passion on the subject. “Not only did he take this stuff but he allowed someone to inject it in him. Nobody knows who this guy is. Now he gets an opportunity of the lifetime and what does he do with it.
“I’m passionate about it because I’m so disappointed in him. I’m disappointed because he allowed his family to not have this opportunity. But you know how it goes. If you bless a foolish man, it becomes a curse… this man wanted popularity, he wanted fame. It just came in the worst way for him.”
Once the subject made its way back to the rest of the group, a consensus was reached on proposed disciplinary action, for first-time offenders and for repeat cheaters such as Miller.
“You’re not just affecting the test, you’re affecting your family,” pointed out Santa Cruz, a three-division tilist and reigning featherweight title claimant. “That’s what you work for, to support your family. I don’t know why (fighters) take PEDs, you know it’s going to come out. I’ve never done anything like that so I don’t know how it works.”
What he does know—or at least believe—is that Miller should be held accountable, even to the point of never being permitted to fight again.
“If they catch you the second time yeah,” agreed Santa Cruz. “Maybe the first time no, but if they catch you again I think it should be a lifetime ban.”
Plant and Garcia had a slightly different take.
“I feel like for one, it’s a lack of confidence in yourself and your skills,” insisted Plant (18-0, 10KOs), who claimed a 168-pound belt in a 12-round win over Jose Uzcategui in January. “When you do something like that to try to upgrade your abilities, why don’t you improve your abilities in the first place.
“Second, I don’t know about indefinitely, that’s strong. I was going to say a two- or three-strike thing, but clearly this is a reoccurring thing.”
Added Garcia (39-1, 30KOs): “I agree that if you get caught multiple times, then yes it should possibly be a lifetime ban. In other case, we go back to other events when they miss with your gloves, they mess with your hand wraps, then those situations were dealt with, sometimes lifetime.”
None were as steadfast on the subject as Miller’s divisional peer.
“What makes it look so bad, he wanted to accuse (Joshua) of doing it, and then he does it,” Wilder pointed out. “The only way to put to a stop is if someone really puts an end to it—and he got to be the example.
“Lifetime ban for sure. He took multiple hardcore drugs. He took a drug that can give you cancer. What risk will you take to go to the top. You will kill yourself for fame. You will kill yourself for money. He got the opportunity of a lifetime. He got life-changing money. When you sticking stuff in your veins, that’s on purpose. Lifetime ban, count me in!”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox