IT’S one thing when a fighter either refuses or forgets to enrol in the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program but quite another thing when a fighter elects to remove their name from the Program having previously registered.

That’s exactly what Erislandy Lara, the former WBA super-welterweight champion, has chosen to do while on the brink of a shot at WBA ‘regular’ super-welterweight champion Brian Castrano. Seemingly no longer interested in his number two WBC ranking, the talented Cuban southpaw has decided he can do without their rules and general meddling on the performance-enhancing drug front, too.

In a statement, the World Boxing Council (WBC) confirmed the removal of Lara from their ratings and revealed the move had been issued by Lara’s manager on his fighter’s behalf.

“Cuban boxer Erislandy Lara, currently ranked number two at super-welterweight by the World Boxing Council, has asked through his representative, Luis de Cubas Jr, to be removed from the Clean Boxing Program of the WBC.

“This is the first time that a boxer has resigned from the Program.

“The World Boxing Council was the first body to implement mandatory anti-doping tests in all championship fights since 1975. The WBC has been a pioneer and leader in boxing, showing the way forward for all sports, with its devotion and dedication to boxers’ safety.

“The WBC has revolutionized the sport by making it more humane and safe for all participants, with the implementation of multiple rules and procedures, specifically aimed at improving safety.

“The Clean Boxing Program was established in 2016, after many years of preparation and planning. It stands out, for specifically pursuing, as absolute paramount, the protection, safety and well-being of all boxers.

“The WBC has an agreement with VADA, which is the voluntary anti-doping association in charge of administering the Clean Boxing Program. VADA coordinates the collection of samples, the chain of custody and the analysis in laboratories. The WBC is in charge of the results.

“The WBC regrets the decision of Erislandy Lara and wishes him success in his future plans.”

Due to his removal from the Clean Boxing Program, Lara will also be removed from the WBC rankings with immediate effect.

As for the reasons behind the decision, one can only guess. But it’s safe to say more will be revealed when Lara’s next fight is announced and, indeed, by judging the 35-year-old’s future accomplishments.

Meanwhile, in other WBC Clean Boxing Program-related news, IBO cruiserweight champion Kevin Lerena says his wife’s medication could be to blame for a failed VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) drug test on October 18 in Johannesburg.

The WBC announced on Twitter today that Lerena, 21-1 (9), had tested positive, which potentially scuppers plans for the South African to defend his fringe title in March.

“BREAKING NEWS: Boxer Kevin Lerena tested positive in a test by @Vada_Testing done in October 18, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Clean Boxing Program protocol will now begin.”

Lerena, however, recovering from a July shoulder operation, flatly denies taking performance-enhancing drugs and believes his wife’s medication, which includes the metabolite identified in the positive test, and which he may have mistakenly ingested, could hold all the answers.

“I’ve worked too long & too hard to throw away my career by doping,” Lerena wrote on social media. “I’ll be fighting this VADA charge harder than any of my fights. I believe in fighting clean. I’d never put my career in jeopardy this way. I will clear my name, no matter what it takes. Thanks 4 your support.”

He later added: “I’m devastated by this news. If I’m guilty of anything, it’s carelessness. I’ll be fighting the charge, for sure.

“There are no anabolic agents whatsoever. I endorse what they are trying to do and would never knowingly take a banned substance.

“I am in post-op recovery, so it would be daft to be using anabolic agents or growth hormone. Why would I be seeking an advantage now when I’m only fighting around March again?”

Lara has so far tested clean but dropped out of the Program, therefore no longer endorses what the WBC and VADA are trying to do. Lerena, on the other hand, has tested positive yet fully endorses what the testers are trying to achieve. The question is, I suppose: Who’s the goodie and who’s the baddie? In boxing, it’s rarely ever that simple.

Erislandy Lara

According to the Los Angeles Times, a proposed March 16 showdown between Mikey Garcia and Errol Spence could end up at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Reporter Lance Pugmire says a site deal has been reached between the venue and Premier Boxing Champions for the fight to take place there, a move that will be music to the ears of Texas native Spence.

IBF welterweight champion Spence, 24-0 (21), sold out the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility in Frisco for his last fight, a comfortable June win against mandatory challenger Carlos Ocampo, and will be grateful for home support in March, too, when defending his belt against the most talented opponent of his career to date.

Garcia, 39-0 (30), is the current WBC lightweight champion and will be moving up two weight divisions to fight Spence. The gifted 30-year-old has previously won world titles as a featherweight, super-featherweight and super-lightweight, and boxed in San Antonio, Texas in March, when outpointing Sergey Lipinets in an IBF super-lightweight title bout.

Chances are, this super-fight will have less to do with location than it will size, but Mikey Garcia doesn’t seem fussed either way. That’s good news for Spence. It’s even better news for boxing fans.

Mikey Garcia vs Robert Easter