Alexander Povetkin cleared, will face Stiverne for interim WBC heavyweight title
Alexander Povetkin has been cleared after his positive drug test and will face Bermane Stiverne for an interim title with the winner getting Deontay Wilder
Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) has been cleared of his doping scandal that forced the heavyweight contender off of his mandatory title fight with Deontay Wilder back in May and will fight for an interim title belt in his next bout.
The WBC has mandated that Povetkin face Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 22 KOs) next for the WBC interim heavyweight title, with the winner facing Wilder for the actual belt once Wilder has recovered from his broken hand and torn biceps that he suffered in his July bout with Chris Arreola.
The free negotiation period for the fight has begun, with the purse bid being held on Sept. 16 if there is no agreement made between the camps before then.
Povetkin has not fought since November 2011 when he knocked out Mariusz Wach. The Russian heavyweight has been cleared to fight after protesting his positive drug test as WADA and the WBC have noted that there is no way to definitively know whether Povetkin had ingested meldonium after Jan. 1 when it was added to the banned substances list.
"Based on the scientific and medical information the WBC received during its investigation and inquiry processes and on the WADA Notices, it is not possible to ascertain that Mr. Povetkin ingested Meldonium after Jan. 1, 2016," said the WBC in a statement.
That positive test ruined Povetkin's first shot at Wilder, but now he will get a chance to earn another spot in the ring with the champ. To do that, he'll have to get through Bermane Stiverne, who has one of the strongest chins in the heavyweight division.
Stiverne is ranked as the No. 2 contender in the WBC rankings behind Povetkin and remains the only fighter to ever last the full 12 rounds with Deontay Wilder. Stiverne lost that fight in a lopsided decision back in January 2015 when Wilder claimed the WBC heavyweight title for the first time.
Wilder has said that he is aiming for a January 2017 return, despite the severity of his injuries and multiple surgeries he's had in the weeks since his fight with Arreola. That may be a very optimistic timetable for Wilder, but whenever Wilder gets back to the ring, he will have a stern test waiting for him.
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