By Vadim Pushkin
Olympic gold medal winner Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) is moving forward with his planned return on July 1 in Moscow.
Povetkin is under suspension by the World Boxing Council for failing a pre-fight drug test in connection to last December's planned WBC final eliminator with Bermane Stiverne. After the positive test was revealed, the WBC withdrew their sanction of the fight and Stiverne left Russia to head home.
It was the second failed test for Povetkin in 2016, after testing positive for a scheduled May fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder. Povetkin tested positive for recently banned substance meldonium and the fight was canceled days later.
Povetkin feels ready to enter the ring against anyone.
"I do not care with who I fight with," Povetkin told Azamat Bostanov. "I'm sure my team will pick me a good interesting opponent, with whom we will have a spectacular fight. My job is to train and show good boxing ability. I'm ready to fight against any opponent."
His promoter, Andrei Ryabinsky of World of Boxing, is in talks with several candidates.
"At the present there are no contracts signed with anyone, so I can not say that we picked an opponent for Alexander. We are in negotiations and if all goes well, then in the middle of May we will sign a formal agreement with a potential opponent. We are considering a number of different opponents. With confidence I can say only one thing - Povetkin come out to the ring on July 1, 2017. And against who - I will explain that part later," Ryabinsky said.
Povetkin is appealing the WBC's decision to suspend him. Several other sanctioning bodies, like the IBF, WBA and WBO, have followed the WBC's lead and will not allow the boxer to enter their rankings until he sorts out his issues with the World Boxing Council.