Deontay Wilder, the WBC heavyweight contender, and promoter DiBella Entertainment have jointly filed a federal lawsuit against No. 1 contender Alexander Povetkin and his promoter, Andrey Ryabinskiy, as a result of the cancelation of their planned May 21 bout in Russia.
Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance Meldonium on April 27. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman ruled on May 15 the fight could not proceed as a result of Povetkin's failure. The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New York, seeks a minimum of $5 million in actual damages plus additional damages to be proven at trial.
Ryabinskiy's company, World of Boxing, earned the right to promote the bout via a purse bid in which its bid was $7.15 million. Out of that, Wilder's purse was to be $4,369,365.
The suit alleges that Wilder and DiBella Entertainment became concerned the bout may not occur in March when Povetkin traveled to Spain just two months before the match. At the time, they were locked in a dispute over drug testing details for the bout.
"Plaintiffs' concerns about ensuring proper testing for banned substances became amplified when, in or around late March 2016, DBE received information that made it concerned that Povetkin was undergoing some kind of doping (i.e., use of banned substances) regimen," the suit read. "In particular, DBE learned that Povetkin had traveled to Spain, which was highly suspicious considering that (i) it is common knowlege in the boxing industry that Povetkin does not like to train outside of Russia, and (ii) while Spain is not known to be a traditional place for boxers to train, it is notorious as an epicenter of doping. Based upon this information, DBE and Wilder began pressuring the WBC to immediately commence random doping testing for the Bout."
According to the suit, when the parties couldn't come to terms on an agreement for the bout, including on doping testing, the WBC announced on April 6 that it would draft rules that included a doping regimen run by the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA). The WBC noted that its rules would be "final and cannot be disputed."
The suit alleges that Povetkin passed tests on April 7, 8 and 11, but tested positive for Meldonium on April 27. Because of Povetkin's positive test, the WBC ruled on May 15 the bout could not take place as scheduled on May 21.
Wilder and DBE demanded full payment of Wilder's purse plus other damages, which they say total in excess of $5 million, as a result of the bout not occurring. They cited a case, World of Boxing v. King, that went in favor of Ryabinskiy in a similar situation.
Guillermo Jones, a Don King-promoted fighter, tested positive for a banned substance and couldn't compete against a WOB-promoted fighter. Ryabinskiy sued King for failing to produce Jones and won a $2 million judgment.
Ryabinskiy could not be reached for comment upon the suit.