Sweet Science Scene: Rules ignored, COVID causes a withdrawal, a purse bid moved and we mourn the loss of a young fighter

Michael Rueda
sweet science scene Oscar de la Hoya covid

The Sweet Science Scene had a very eventful and wild week. We had a purse bid postponement, a positive COVID test that knocked a fight out and brought in a Hall of Fame replacement and a drug test that provided many crazy conversations and wild interactions. We also lost a member of the Sweet Science Scene, and we all pray and have her family and friends in our thoughts.

A Sweet Science RIP to Jeanette Zapata

Jeanette Zacarias Zapata Sweet Science scene
Jeanette Zacarias Zapata (2002-2021)

First things first, rest in peace to Jeanette Zacarias Zapata, the 18-year-old fighter from Mexico who lost her life following her match in Canada. On August 28th Zapata faced Marie Pierre Houle and the bout shouldn’t have happened. Zapata took repeated blows to the head, and the bout was stopped in the 4th round as Zapata fell and was rushed to the hospital. Zapata was placed in a medically induced coma and passed away on September 2nd. One issue brought up was the big age difference as Houle is 31 and Zapata was 18 and following the result, it makes sense to question it. I hope you find peace, Jeanette, you deserved better and I’m sorry this world didn’t give that to you. 

De La Hoya in hospital with COVID

Sweet Science Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya was due to face MMA veteran Vitor Belfort on a Triller-produced card on September 11th, but De La Hoya tested positive for COVID-19. With his positive test, De La Hoya was forced to withdrawal from the bout and Evander Holyfield was placed in his spot. The card was due to take place in Los Angeles, but following the withdrawal, the California commission decided not to sanction Holyfield and the card will now take place in Florida. Triller has had a tough run since getting into promoting the Sweet Science, which added to the wild and strange time they have had. I wish De La Hoya a speedy and safe recovery as he battles Covid.

This one was the strange one

Let’s start with this Oscar Valdez, the junior lightweight champion, tested positive for a banned substance. It was first reported as a diuretic which is regularly used to mask PED use, but it was later corrected as Phentermine, still a banned substance by WADA, which administered the test. Now, this is where things get really tricky. Valdez tested positive for the A and B samples, but according to WADA, which doesn’t have it banned from the competition until the day of the fight in their rules said it’s ok. If you’re lost, don’t worry; it happens WADA didn’t do the test, but their rules were used following the positive test. The commission where the fight will take place held a meeting about the results and decided to sanction the bout between Oscar Valdez and Robson Conceicao on September 10th. 

The decision to move forward has been met with many criticisms as many fighters who have tested positive for any substances have been suspended and not allowed to fight, but Valdez was allowed. This is the sort of situation that gives the Sweet Science a bad look.

The WBC said that after looking into it, they believe that the substance does not give any advantages, so it was ok to proceed with the fight. It also said that Valdez would be tested a lot more for the next 12 months, and if he tests positive again, he will be suspended and stripped of the title.

Yes, if he tests for Phentermine again, even though they said it doesn’t give advantages, he will be suspended. Social Media has run with this and made accusations and laid suspicions as this is the third fighter from the Canelo camp to test positive. I personally don’t believe Valdez took this substance knowingly and I believe he didn’t do it purposely, but with that said, I don’t believe the fight should go forward it is an all-around bad look and an already black-eyed sport.

Sweet Science Scene Quick Hits

  • DAZN held an anticipated card for Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom promotions this past Saturday. Winners of this card were son of the legendary Nigel Been as Connor Benn beat veteran Adrian Granados. Maxi Hughes defeated Giovanni Straffon as well. Katie Taylor remained undefeated as she beat Jennifer Han and the talk of a potential match up with Amanda Serrano has picked up again. The main event was a rematch between Mauricio Lara and Josh Warrington after the upset victory for Lara. This match ended after an accidental headbutt caused a bad cut over Lara’s eye that forced the match to be ruled a no contest. Just another thrilling night in the world of the Sweet Science.
  • The PBC on Fox had a card a main event with up-and-comer Jesus Ramos beating Brian Mendoza. Starling Castillo, who may have one of the leaders for knockout of the year, had to dig deep in this fight as he went the distance with battle tested Juan Carlos Burgos to win. The upset of the card was Marcos Hernandez beating previously undefeated Armando Redendiz. For Hernandez it was a big victory as he has had some tough losses including one to former unified champion Jeison Rosario so to say this was a big victory is an understatement.
  • The purse bid for Terrence Crawford vs. Shawn Porter was moved from September 2nd to September 14th as Top Rank and TGB promotions asked for the extension as they try and make a deal. This is an anticipated fight for Sweet Science fans and nobody cares who promotes it or what platform it’s on – they just want to see it. If it is to go to a purse bid, Eddie Hearn has announced his intention to make a bid.
  • The Sweet Science cards this weekend will be the Triller card on Saturday, which will be a four-fight card and will feature Andy Vences vs Jono Carrol, former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion David Haye vs Joe Fournier, MMA legend Anderson Silva will take on Tito Ortiz and the main event will feature Evander Holyfield vs Vitor Belfort.
  • ESPN will hold a card September 10th, as mentioned before, and will pit Oscar Valdez vs Robson Conceicao, Gabriel Flores vs Luis Alberto Lopez and an under the radar fight between Junto Nakatani vs Angel Acosta . Undercard action will be streamed on ESPN+.

Not to be Rueda…. but

When do we get it right for the Sweet Science? Following the loss of Jeanette Zapata, you allow a fight where a fighter tested positive to proceed. Yes, I understand the substance is not a PED, but the issue is that it was on the banned list by the company administering the test and you just ignore their rules and go with another. I will, again, say that the fighter in question here, Oscar Valdez, did not take the substance on purpose. Yet every fighter is responsible for what enters their body and to allow the fight to go forward sets a bad precedent. If every fighter tests positive going forward, can they be cleared to fight? Canelo tested positive for trace amounts of a substance and was suspended for six months. Yes, we know each commission has its rules, but to ignore what was banned and go forward is not right. As the Sweet Science community mourns the loss of a fighter, we allow this to go forward and at some point, we have to get it right and quit allowing things to happen. What this shows is bias and what your connections can get you.

It’s never a dull week for the Sweet Science and the same should hold true as we head into the fall.