Just days shy of fight week, the May 21, 2016 battle that was to have been Deontay "The Bronze Bomber" Wilder's (36-0, 35KOs) fifth defense of his WBC World Heavyweight Championship title vs. Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22KOs) has been called off in accordance with the news that broke on Friday, May 13, 2016 that Povetkin had failed a drug test.
Povetkin, who is the WBC's No. 1 heavy weight championship contender, tested positive for a banned substance in a urine test conducted by the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) on April 27, 2016, as per a press release issued by Swanson Communications via email on May 15, 2016. The fight was scheduled to take place in Moscow.
The illegal substance that was detected in Povetkin's system as a result of testing was meldonium.
Meldonium, which is also known in some circles by the trade name Mildronate, is believed to be an advantage in athletic competition because of it's ability to markedly increase blood flow via enlargement of the blood vessels.
Due to these enhanced properties, the drug has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of banned substances for athletes since January 2016.
While doping is not an issue that is foreign to professional boxing, this charge comes right on the heels of the United States Department of Justice opening joint investigations on numerous state sponsored Russian athletes based on a report the World Anti-Doping Agency issued in November accusing Russia of systematic state sponsored doping across many different athletic disciplines, as reported today by The New York Times.
As such, the emerging story could be one that ranges far outside of the confines of professional boxing and Wilder's desire to defend his title.
However, understandably for Wilder, the blow remains more personal than systemic when it comes to missing his chance to face Povetkin in the ring.
"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," continued the Tuscaloosa, Alabama native, adding: "This is a huge disappointment and a setback to my goals in boxing. 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," said Wilder in closing.