The WBC has decided to cancel the showdown in Russia between Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin, who tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.
Wilder and his representatives were made aware of the WBC's decision on Sunday that the fight will not occur in Moscow this Saturday, May 21.
"I'm very disappointed that due to Povetkin's failed drug test, the fight is not going to happen on May 21 in Moscow,'' said Wilder. "I had worked very hard to prepare myself for this important title defense, spending the last two weeks training in England to get accustomed to fighting in Europe. I wanted to give the fans a great show, but we understand the WBC's position that the fight occur on an even playing field.''
Last March, Maria Sharapova, a five-time Russian tennis Grand Slam champion and the world’s highest-paid female athlete, announced that she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open.
In an event already rife with problems, such as not securing a broadcast deal due to promoter politics in Russia, the cancellation confirms everyone’s presupposed notions of the shadiness surrounding the event.
Billionaire Russian promoter Andrey Ryabinskiy of World of Boxing won the purse bid February 26th for the right to promote and control heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder's mandatory defense.
(Photo Credit: thaboxingvoice.com)
Ryabinskiy bid $7.15 million while attorney Alex Dombroff, representing promoter Lou DiBella, who works with Wilder, offered a little over $5 million.
According to ESPN, promoters of titleholders typically are at a significant advantage because their side is entitled to 70 percent of the money, but Ryabinskiy won, forcing Wilder to travel to Russia for the fight.
Povetkin (30-1, 22 K0s), who is the WBC No. 1 heavyweight championship contender and current WBC Silver Heavyweight champ, tested positive for the substance in a urine test conducted by the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) on April 27.
"Based upon Povetkin's positive test for meldonium, and with the health and safety of Deontay Wilder the paramount consideration, this fight could not take place next Saturday,'' said DiBella. "As a result of Povetkin's use of a banned substance and breach of contract, Deontay Wilder was deprived of an opportunity to defend his title, as he was prepared to, on an even playing field. He and his team have suffered substantial damages as a result. Any talk of rescheduling by Mr. Ryabinskiy at this point is unfounded and premature. Team Wilder will await further communications from the WBC and will weigh all our options given what has transpired.''
According to ESPN, Wilder was slated to make $4,504,500 on Saturday, with Povetkin getting $1,930,500 and 10 percent of the purse – $715,000 – going to the winner. Wilder's share of the purse is in escrow at a U.S. bank, and a lawsuit may be forthcoming.
The 30-year-old Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) and his team were supposed to fly to Moscow last Sunday for a week of preparation and promotion leading up to the fight. Wilder has since returned home to Tuscaloosa, Alabama awaiting further information from the WBC.
"This is a huge disappointment and a setback to my goals in boxing," said Wilder. "I want to be an active heavyweight champion and it is still my goal to collect all the belts and become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.''