It was a weekend filled with anger and disappointment for heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder when his upcoming title defense against Alexander Povetkin was called off by the WBC following the challenger’s positive test for the banned substance meldonium.
Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) had been scheduled to make his fourth title defense against Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) on Saturday in Moscow, but Povetkin's April 27 drug test by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association revealed traces of meldonium.
The results of the positive test were revealed Friday, leading to Sunday’s announcement by the WBC, which was sanctioning the title fight, that the bout would be postponed pending an investigation.
“I’m just lost for words,” Deontay Wilder said Sunday from Sheffield, England, where he had spent the past two weeks preparing for the fight and adjusting to the time change. “It’s some bullshit for me as the champion to have gone through what I’ve gone through.
“I’ve done all the right things. I traveled to England, and I've put my body through so much and I’ve sacrificed so much, all just to come to a dead end and because of someone else’s actions. This shows they were scared from the get-go. They feared me. They didn’t want [me] to come to Russia to knock him out in front of his president and his people.”
Meldonium, for which tennis star Maria Sharapova also tested positive earlier this year, is used to increase blood flow and carry more oxygen to muscles, thus resulting in enhanced stamina. The World Anti-Doping Agency voted to add meldonium to the banned substance list in September, and the ban went into effect January 1.
“ There ain’t no drug that Povetkin can take that could stop the ass whipping I had waiting for him. ” Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder
Wilder’s promoter, Lou DiBella, said in a statement that his fighter would consider his options as he awaits the outcome of the WBC's investigation.
“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,” DiBella said.
“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 had prepared to—on an even playing field. He and his team have suffered significant damages as a result. Any talk of rescheduling by [Povetkin's promoter Andrey] Ryabinsky at this point is unfounded and premature."
Wilder and his team had planned to fly to Moscow on Sunday for the final week of promotion and preparations leading up to fight night, but sat tight in Sheffield once they learned of Povetkin’s failed test.
Now, Wilder finds himself preparing to return to his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, his world championship still intact, but his desire to defeat Povetkin unquenched.
“I still want to whip his ass,’’ Wilder said. “There ain’t no drug that he can take that could stop the ass whipping I had waiting for him. Povetkin was never dangerous to me.
“I was ready to show the world what Deontay Wilder is capable of, but he stole my opportunity away from me—not only from me, but from the fans of boxing in his own country. We did everything right, we accepted everything and we were patient with these cowards. I’m sorry for the fans, because the fans really lost.”
- Deontay Wilder