By Scoop Malinowski
In May of this year the highly anticipated WBC Heavyweight showdown between champion Deontay Wilder and mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin went up in flames shortly after Povetkin tested positive for a trace amount of Meldonium over a week before the fight. Both sides have since sued each other, for losses and defamation. The fight was finally scheduled – after several delays – for May 21 in Moscow after Russian promoter Andre Ryabinskiy won the purse bid, $7. 15 million against Wilder promoter Lou Dibella’s $5. This was a small issue one that again doesn’t impair enjoyment of iphone’s screen but detracts a little from its perfection. 1 million. If I understand the facts correctly, Povetkin’s trace sample of meldonium was below the amount which would have prompted the World Boxing Council to cancel the fight immediately. The WBC’s rules say it must “consider all factors” before taking any action after a drug test. And because Povetkin’s trace was so minor, the fight could have still been staged if Wilder really wanted it – and the payday. According to Ryabinskiy’s lawsuit against Dibella/Wilder (which is for defamation for $10 million against each), Wilder did not honor the bout agreement in which he was supposed to report to Moscow from London seven days before the fight. Wilder instead flew back to the United States before the WBC had made any official announcement regarding the fight or the positive test by Povetkin and launched a media smear campaign against Povetkin and Ryabinskiy. Consequently, without both fighters in Moscow, the WBC was forced to postpone the fight. Ryabinskiy stated in the lawsuit that Wilder’s return to the U. S. without first going to Moscow was “the equivalent of a child’s temper tantrum. ” Ryabinskiy added: “Wilder and Dibella never wanted a title defense in Russia” and they “used the inconclusive meldonium test as a pre-text to walk away. To cover up their misconduct Wilder and Dibella began spreading lies to the press to defame and tarnish the reputations of Povetkin and Ryabinskiy. They falsely stated the fight was canceled rather than postponed. They said Povetkin used meldonium to gain an advantage and Povetkin and Ryabinskiy lied about it to cover it up. ”
Since the fight did not materialize, the two sides have continued to fight each other outside of the ring. Dibella tried to get Povetkin removed from the WBC rankings, an attempt to eliminate Povetkin from Al Haymon’s master plans which is of course to extend Wilder’s championship reign for as long as possible. Make no mistake about it, Haymon is the boss who controls Wilder, not Dibella. And Haymon’s boxing empire is in very bad shape right now with the enormous failure of his Premier Boxing Champions series which has lost a reported $500 million in less than two years of existence. Compounding Haymon’s problems is the reality that he no longer generates any revenue from his former crown jewel Floyd Mayweather who has opted to not fight the Manny Pacquiao rematch or a lucrative superfight with Gennady Golovkin. So, most obviously, Haymon is quite desperate right now and will do anything – fair or unfair, ethical or unethical – to preserve his most important chess piece which at the moment is Deontay Wilder. Remember the words of Paulie Malignaggi: “Al Haymon can manipulate anything. What Al Haymon wants Al Haymon gets. ”
You have to wonder – and suspect – if Haymon played any part in manipulating VADA to his agenda, which is to preserve Wilder and eliminate Povetkin. Ryabinskiy is one very powerful figure that Haymon will apparently not be able to manipulate. Ryabinskiy is said to be friends with Vladimir Putin and, via his real estate and construction empire, has accumulated far more wealth than Haymon. A source who is familiar with the situation and the individuals involved shared some thoughts on the matter via e-mail: “In the Povetkin case, at no point did VADA think Povetkin was dirty. That determination comes from the top dogs at VADA. That insane media firestorm against him was in my opinion (that’s the only part of this that is opinion but I have a ton of circumstantial evidence that I can send you letter if interested) orchestrated by Dibella & Haymon. The science was always on Povetkin’s side. I sort of think that if it wasn’t for Ryabinskiy’s financial muscle and just general power the WBC might have f****d Povetkin. The WBC knew it would be a death sentence though as the lawsuit would cause bankruptcy and Ryabinskiy has enough money to not care about legal expenses. He’d just be trying to destroy them (WBC) like he’s looking to destroy Dibella now. Gabriel Montoya’s reaction to this story, along with him suddenly attending PBC cards again, was very telling about the boxing media’s overall position. I actually tried telling several boxing writers who were actively slandering Povetkin back in May that I knew for a fact that VADA didn’t think he was dirty. they just basically told me to shut up. Well known writers! They didn’t care about the truth at all. ”
Once the dust and controversy settles, Wilder and Povetkin will likely finally face off against each other sometime in 2017. Povetkin has since been forced by the WBC to fight another WBC Eliminator to regain his mandatory ranking position, which would be against former WBC champion Bermane Stiverne, promoted by Don King and a strong ally of Al Haymon. Remember, it was Don King who astonishingly stated at the press conference before the Wilder-Eric Molina (King’s fighter who coincidentally was Wilder’s first title defense opponent) that Stiverne had “transferred” the WBC belt to Wilder, which of course is code for business transaction, and we all know what that means. Of course, King and Haymon both know that Wilder is the far more sellable and marketable (and younger) heavyweight entity than the low key, charisma-lacking Haitian Stiverne who is fast approaching age 40. How it all plays out will be one of the more intriguing political stories of boxing next year. One thing is for sure: Al Haymon and Lou Dibella, despite their considerable efforts, have certainly not removed or solved their Povetkin problem. The former Olympic gold medalist and once-beaten-as-a-professional gladiator (on points by Wladimir Klitschko) is still a gigantic figure in the heavyweight division and an enormous headache for Deontay Wilder.
Scoop’s seventh book “Facing McEnroe” is available at amazon. .