Don King, on Mike Tyson

"Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter?
He went to prison, not to Princeton."

"To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music
and the dancers hit each other."

Friday, June 3, 2016

Doping Scandal - Deontay Wilder, an Untainted Boxer, Loses Out in a Doping Scandal

Deontay Wilder, undefeated in 36 professional fights, was to fight the Russian contender Alexander Povetkin in a bout that could have been the biggest of his career. Credit Don Emmert/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

Even Deontay Wilder, an Untainted Boxer, Loses Out in a Doping Scandal


Deontay Wilder is the World Boxing Council heavyweight champion. At 36-0 with 35 knockouts he is America’s best hope in years to unify the crown that once stood as the biggest title in sports. He had spent the past two weeks training in Sheffield, England, a transit camp on his road to a fight in Moscow on Saturday against the top-ranked contender, Alexander Povetkin.
The $4.5 million purse was to be the largest of Wilder’s career. Beyond the money, the fight would have been Wilder’s shining moment, one so important that he had agreed to take on the Russian challenger in Moscow.
The plan was simple: Go into Povetkin’s hometown, knock him out and announce to the world that Wilder was the heavyweight division’s new truth.
But on Friday, Wilder learned that Povetkin had tested positive for meldonium, a banned performance-enhancing drug, and the fight was postponed.

We can talk in broad strokes about the doping scandal that has engulfed Russian sports, about the Olympic medals and world championships that may have been won — and lost — unfairly in recent years. Those stories are compelling but not universally so. Certainly not for fans who make their bets, cheer their teams and support their favorite athletes regardless of whispers about P.E.D. use.

Alexander Povetkin, in Moscow on Saturday, tested positive for meldonium, a banned performance-enhancing drug. 

But for Wilder, a charismatic champion on the verge of a breakthrough moment, the scandal suddenly became personal.
We can debate whether it is worse to have lost to someone who had an illegal advantage, or to have missed a chance to compete at all because an opponent was busted.

But when cheating hits you in the wallet, you pay attention.

What now? Wilder will make a mandatory title defense against whomever the W.B.C. deems the top contender. The W.B.C. also will decide whether to suspend Povetkin from fighting for its belt. (Various state commissions in the United States can suspend Povetkin, but such a suspension is effectively toothless because the Russian most likely will not fight in the United States.)
For Wilder, already on the back side of 30, the waste of even a few months can be devastating for a career that started late. There’s no guarantee that such a large payday ever will come again.
Wilder was born in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and did not start boxing until he was 19. He said he was inspired to enter the ring after his daughter, Naieya, was born with spina bifida. Wilder dropped out of Shelton State Community College to support his daughter and began concentrating all of his energies on boxing.
In 2008, he won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. Soon afterward he turned pro.
Media friendly and accessible, Wilder became known as a big puncher and a knockout artist.

Povetkin would have provided the high-profile opponent Wilder needed to validate his rapid rise and to put him in position to solidify the fragmented heavyweight division in which two British fighters, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, hold the other belts.

Povetkin, middle, the World Boxing Council’s top-ranked heavyweight contender, could be suspended. Credit Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

Wilder was ready to go through with the fight this weekend, even if Povetkin would have entered the ring from the moral low ground.
Wilder’s camp, led by the veteran promoter Lou DiBella, was furious after the positive drug test was revealed.
Instead, Wilder flew back to Tuscaloosa on Monday to be with his family and to pick up the pieces of his broken dream. He cannot say for sure when he will fight next.
With the fight postponed and the big money off the table, a doping scandal that was on the periphery of Wilder’s radar has hit him squarely on his jaw.

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