ALEXANDER POVETKIN failed two drug tests as recently as 2016, leaving first Bermane Stiverne and then Deontay Wilder without an opponent. On September 22, the Russian is scheduled to challenge Anthony Joshua for the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles at Wembley Stadium in a showdown that could break numerous records.
But even Joshua can’t sell out a stadium on his own. However, the show’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has no concern whatsoever that Povetkin will fail another test. So little concern, in fact, that there is no replacement lined up for Povetkin if it turns out he can’t fight.
Povetkin’s high ranking with each of the major sanctioning bodies has rightly angered fans who don’t believe the 38-year-old should be allowed to earn so handsomely so soon – if at all – after testing positive for banned substances.
While the WBA enforcing the Joshua challenge was largely out of Hearn’s hands, the promoter accepts concerns around Povetkin fighting ‘clean’ and will pay for additional VADA testing, on top of the existing random testing and UKAD testing. While this is no more or less testing than for previous Joshua world title fights, it’s the maximum amount of testing that can be enforced.
“For every Anthony Joshua fight we pay for additional VADA testing for a 12-week period, every fight,” Hearn explained to Boxing News. “It costs us about $40,000 in total. Both fighters signed up for that, and both fighters have already been tested, and they will continue to be tested – probably every week – by VADA. Nothing to do with UKAD, they will test Joshua – they tested him at 6 o’clock in the morning before he flew to America (July 17) – and they might do Povetkin in Russia or when he’s here in London.
“Povetkin is under UKAD. VADA is random, and VADA is where we pay the money for them to be there every week.
“The problem with the VADA random testing is that I know fighters that have never been tested, so this is why we pay the additional fee to ensure the fighters are tested regularly. We do it with every major fight, not just Joshua.
“This is the maximum amount of testing you can possibly enforce, and I trust VADA.”
Povetkin, though, has been caught before. That must be a worry with so much money riding on the promotion?
“If he [Povetkin] gets caught, he gets caught,” Hearn said. “But I don’t believe when you’re under this kind of testing you would be naive enough to try and cheat. But who knows.”
In early 2017, Carlos Takam was installed as a highly useful substitute prior to Kubrat Pulev withdrawing from a Cardiff challenge to Joshua with injury. So given Povetkin’s history, is there someone waiting in the wings should he not be able to fulfil his obligations to fight Joshua?
“Absolutely not,” Hearn said. “I don’t have any concerns over that to be honest.”