LAS VEGAS – In the aftermath of Saturday’s news that the WBC Interim heavyweight title fight in Russia between former heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne and top-ranked Alexander Povetkin had been cancelled because Povetkin tested positive for drugs again, Hall of Fame promoter Don “Only In America” King offered a simple solution:
Declare his fighter, Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), of Las Vegas, the interim champion.
“I’ve had a long-standing respect with the WBC, beginning with Jose Sulaiman and now with his son, Mauricio, who has done an incredible job filling his father’s shoes as WBC president and just got re-elected for four more years. I stand with them and with the WBC for trying to do things the right way and with their organization’s safety procedures in regard to the boxers and the sport.
“It’s sad but this guy, Povetkin, has become a total embarrassment. He’s now tested positive in two WBC heavyweight title fights in a row. I’m all for winning and losing fights in the ring, but it’s time for justice to prevail. I don’t know what’s going on over there with so many Russian athletes in so many sports testing positive for drugs, but it has to stop. They cannot be allowed to continue to do things the way they are.
“The WBC should declare Stiverne world champion, make him the mandatory for (WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay) Wilder, and let’s move on with it. There are a lot of great heavyweight fights that can be made with willing boxers who don’t break the rules every fight.
“I’m very disappointed for Bermane, who’s now gone through two training camps with nothing to show for it. Why put up all that money for travel and expenses and then have no fight. He was ready to beat Povetkin and regain a part of the WBC title.
“And then – worse yet -- for them to try and put it on Bermane for not fighting is just ludicrous. They’re taking the victim and trying to set him up as the criminal in this.’’
Stiverne pulled out after the WBC withdrew its sanction because Poverkin tested positive for the banned substance Ostarine. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman revealed the positive test by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) on Saturday morning. Then, the WBC withdrew its recognition of the fight.
“There’s no reason to fight if the WBC won’t sanction the bout,” said Stiverne, who could have gone through with the bout but without the sanction opted not to. “I’m very disappointed in the actions of Povetkin. I’ve been training for months to be victorious.
“To wake up the day of the fight, have breakfast, take a nap and then find out he tested positive is the worst possible situation.”
This is the second time in seven months Povetkin (30-1-0, 22 KOs) has tested positive for a banned substance. He tested positive for Meldonium ahead of a scheduled May bout with Wilder, cancelling that fight.
If it had transpired, the winner of the fight for the WBC interim heavyweight title would have become the mandatory challenger to Wilder. Stiverne lost the WBC title to Wilder on a 12-round decision on Jan. 15, 2015. He’s the only fighter to go the distance with Wilder.