Deontay Wilder can’t escape shadow of Povetkin in fight with Arreola
Deontay Wilder may be facing Chris Arreola on July 16 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama on Fox (8 p.m.). But his canceled bout with Alexander Povetkin on May 21 for his WBC heavyweight title continues to trail him like an unwanted travel companion.
Wilder (36-0, 35 knockouts) and promoter Lou DiBella have sued Povetkin and promoter Andrey Ryabinsky for breach of contract and damages after Povetkin tested positive for meldonium, forcing the bout to be called off. Povetkin and Ryabinsky have since counter-sued for defamation and breach of contract.
“I got served papers,” Wilder said on a conference call on Wednesday, referring to Povetkin’s lawsuit against him. “But I’m not letting it knock me off my game and my focus. I’ve been through worse situations and it’s just another storm I have to weather. My skin is tough.”
Povetkin, who has not been suspended, presented his case to the WBC on June 28 in Mexico City as part of the WBC’s continuing investigation into the matter. Povetkin remains the top-ranked heavyweight in the WBC ratings and hopes to face Wilder this year. The WBC has also offered Wilder a chance to give his side of things. Wilder declined to say whether he or his team plan to appear before the WBC.
But DiBella hinted of ongoing talks with the WBC and of an appearance with officials to present their case. “We’re having conversations right now with the WBC about the opportunity, literally to be able to do the same thing Povetkin’s people did,” DiBella said on Wednesday’s call. “But that’s not for Deontay to be worried about right now. We respect the process of the WBC and we want to get our points across. But this is ultimately going to be decided by the U.S. courts in the Southern District of New York where there are lawsuits pending.”
Prodded again about Povetkin, DiBella hoped to change the subject back to the Arreola fight. “Right now, I’ll be honest with you, Povetkin is the last thing on my (expletive) mind — at least until we get through a big event a week from Saturday,” he said.
When the news first broke of Povetkin’s positive drug test, Wilder was willing to still go through with the fight in Moscow on May 21 regardless, DiBella said; Wilder was ultimately advised against it. “When everything was taken into consideration,” DiBella said, “you don’t get in a ring when you’re standing there as a man with two fists and the other guy’s got a weapon in his fist.”
Arreola, an exciting heavyweight who has twice challenged for a title and come up short, was a surprising choice to face Wilder. Even Arreola admitted in Wednesday’s call that he didn’t really deserve a shot at the title. Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) has twice tested positive for marijuana in the past five years, causing two wins to be changed to no-decisions. “Let’s be honest, do I deserve it? Come on man, no,” he said. “But that being said, that means I have everything to gain and nothing to lose, man. My mentality is to win, period.”
Arreola claims he hasn’t cut any corners in training; when he was offered the fight, he was so excited, he didn’t even ask what he would be making. “I don’t even know what I’m getting paid for this fight,” he said. “It wasn’t even told to me. I don’t care. Money’s not the point. My point is that I want to win the fight. That’s the God’s honest truth.”
Mitch Abramson is a former reporter for the New York Daily News and can be reached on Twitter at:@Mabramson13.