By Robert Brizel, Brick City Boxing Correspondent
The rescheduled 2021 return of former World Light Heavyweight champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev, age 37, against ex-Olympian Bektemir Melikuziev on January 30, 2021, has been cancelled. Kovalev tested positive for synthetic testosterone, and failed sample ‘A’ of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Test (VADA).
The results were confirmed by Main Events CEO Kathy Duva. According to Duva in a statement released January 14, 2021, “VADA was contracted for this fight (between Kovalev and Melikuziev) at his (Kovalev’s personal) insistence, as he has requested for almost all of his fights going back several years. Sergey maintains he did not purposefully ingest any banned substances. Kovalev has proven to be a clean fighter in his many years of VADA testing, and has requested the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association test his ‘B’ sample (which could yield a different result).”
Kovalev versus Melikuziev had been rescheduled for January 30, 2021, and moved from Russia to Indio, California, where Melikuziev is in training.
Kovalev, 34-4-1 with 29 knockouts, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by way of Russian Federation, held the World Boxing Organisation World Light Heavyweight title when Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez knocked him out last November 2019, and has been inactive 14 months.
The southpaw super middleweight Melikuziev, nicknamed ‘Bully’ age 24, 6-0 with five knockouts, Indio, California, by way of Shoimbek, Uzbekistan, a former Olympian, currently holds the regional World Boxing Organisation Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight title. Melikuziev lacks Kovalev’s ring experience, and would have been moving up in weight to light heavyweight to fight Kovalev. This decision perhaps could have benefited Kovalev, since Kovalev is a natural light heavyweight. However, like the late former World Light Heavyweight champion Bob Foster (who lost at the end of his career to the late Bob Hazelton), father time may finally be catching up with ex-champ Kovalev, who will turn 38 years old on April 2, 2021. This was a bout involving youth versus experience, and not passing the VADA drug test was the perfect way to get out of the bout, one way or the other. However, no results on Kovalev’s VADA ‘B’ drug test ‘B’ sample were reported, and if Kovalev passes the ‘B’ sample evaluation, his bout could be reinstated, depending on WBO policy. The current worldwide period of the pandemic has made all types of pre and post testing of meds, and social distancing rules in effect, more stringent in many countries and jurisdictions, in terms of staging professional boxing fights and public sporting events.