Alexander Povetkin and PEDs: Team Wilder made right choice in 2016?
In May 2016, elite-level heavyweight Alexander Povetkin (33-1, 23 KOs) was slated to face WBC Champ Deontay Wilder in the former's native Russia.
That fight, however, was canceled because Povetkin failed a drug test, testing positive for the banned substance meldonium.
Povetkin's handlers insisted only "leftover traces of meldonium at a very low concentration" were found in his blood because he'd stopped taking it even before the drug ban was imposed. Moreover, on May 31, 2016, a week after the Wilder fight had been postponed, Povetkin tested clean, according to his handlers. Nevertheless, the title shot was lost and Povetkin was handed a fine of $250,000 and was temporarily banned by the World Boxing Council (WBC) for failing a pre-fight drug test.
Second-guessing Team Wilder
Should Wilder have followed through and faced Povetkin anyway? After all, traces of meldonium were apparently low and Deontay was the favorite.
Looking back, it appears Team Wilder made the right call.
Povetkin, again, tested positive in December 2016. And this time the culprit was Ostarin. The positive drug test forced then-top challenger Bermane Stiverne to pull out. But not all was lost as Alexander would go on to starch last-minute replacement Johann Duhaupas in the closing seconds of Round 6 with a blistering left hook.
It was a 'highlight reel' knockout and the second time in three fights Povetkin had orchestrated a spectacular KO of a durable opponent. The previous year, Alex 'signed, sealed and delivered' a very tough Mike Perez.
However, a presumably clean, VADA-tested Povetkin has gone the distance in his last two fights against Christian Hammer and Andriy Rudenko, winning wide but uneventful decisions both times.
Former trainer chimes in
According to veteran trainer Fiodor Lapin, Alexander Povetkin is not as strong or physically sharp as he was prior to his suspension-related to drug test failures.
"Until recently, I would have said that Povetkin was the favorite in potential fights against both Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder," Lapin recently told Vasily Konov via BoxingScene.com.
"Povetkin would have been the favorite, but after those situations and the two fights that he had - that's another Povetkin."
"He used to get in earlier [with big punches], and his opponents went down, but now they do not go down, so now he is not in the form that was before the suspension," Lapin added.
"It's clear that there was no fight to be fought [in his last outing], but Hammer's level cannot even be compared closely with these fighters [at the top]. Yes, Povetkin unquestionably won against Hammer, but he lost the force in his punches and lacked accuracy."
Full discloser: Again, this is coming from a former Povetkin trainer who may or may not have a grudge following their fighter-trainer split. Regardless, one can't deny the difference in Alexander's performances in his last two bouts (in 2017) versus his previous three (in 2015 and 2016).
And yes, in the fights against Perez and Duhaupas, Povetkin’s body appeared a little grittier than usual; Body-sculpting drugs don’t always translate into performance enhancement but a more chiseled or muscular physique is often a sign of PEDs.
Perhaps those PEDs provided more of a mental boost and he fought more confidently thinking - or knowing - he had a little extra help?
Now enrolled in the combat sports’ most stern drug testing program, VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association), Alexander is believed to be clean.
“I look forward to being tested by VADA and competing at a world class level, I want to prove to everybody that I am a clean fighter and that I can become a world champion again,” said Povetkin via Boxingcene.com.
Also, Povetkin will be allowed to apply to be included in the WBC's March 2018 rankings.
Alexander is ranked No. 2 in the division by the WBA.