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Deontay Wilder sues for $5 million after opponent fails drug test

Rolling Stone Live SF With Talent Resources - Arrivals Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Rolling Stone

On May 21, Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder was scheduled to defend his belt for the 4th time as he faced Alexander Povetkin in Moscow. Just one week out, that fight was cancelled when Povetkin failed a pre-fight drug test, testing positive for the banned substance meldonium. Now, Wilder is looking to recoup his losses from that cancellation.

Earlier this week, Wilder and his promoter DiBella Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Povetkin and promoter World of Boxing for breach of contract. Wilder is seeking $5 million in damages due to the cancellation.

This fight was contracted to be the biggest payday of Wilder’s career, as he was guaranteed $4.5 million for the fight. An additional $715,000 would have gone to the winner. Additionally, Wilder is looking for compensation for sponsorship money lost, and both Wilder and DiBella are looking for compensation for expenses they accrued leading up to the fight, including Wilder’s training camp.

Such a lawsuit is not without precedent - a lawsuit stemming from a cancelled 2014 fight between Guillermo Jones and Denis Lebedev was recently finalized. In that case, Jones tested positive for a banned substance, and Lebedev and his team were ultimately awarded $2 million in damages. Interestingly, Lebedev is managed by World of Boxing, the same party being sued here. Wilder and his team look to use the exact same argument World of Boxing made in the Lebedev case against them here.

We will keep you updated with further information on this case as it develops.

Next up for Deontay Wilder is a title defense against Chris Arreola, July 16 on Fox.