Deontay Wilder wins civil case against Alexander Povetkin
Before attorney Judd Burstein could finish his grilled cheese sandwich in the courthouse cafeteria, the jury in the civil case involving Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin ruled against Povetkin. While Burstein couldn’t gulp down his lunch, the Russian heavyweight was found guilty of ingesting meldonium after it was designated a banned substance, the jury ruled, according to Burstein, who expects Wilder, as well as promoter Lou DiBella, who both brought the suit, to share in approximately $5.5 million in damages.
“It was the shortest jury verdict I’ve ever had,” Burstein said RingTV.com on Monday of the decision. “I went downstairs to the cafeteria and before I could even have my grilled cheese sandwich finished, I think I’m back up because they had a verdict. I think it was less than 30 minutes.” Added Burstein of the case in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, “Povetkin’s story was so absurd and dishonest — Ray Charles could have seen it.”
Wilder and DiBella sued Povetkin and Russian promoter Andrey Ryabinsky of World of Boxing for breach of contract and a minimum of $5 million in damages after a May 21 bout between Wilder, a heavyweight titleholder, and Povetkin was canceled after Povetkin tested positive for meldonium. Ryabinsky later filed a counterclaim, suing for breach of contract and defamation in the amount of nearly $35 million.
Povetkin tested negative in random drug tests on April 7, 8 and 11 but came up positive for meldonium on April 27. Povetkin asserted he had taken the substance in August and September of 2015 when it was still legal and that residual effects that led to the positive test. Meldonium was put on WADA’s list of banned substances on Jan. 1, 2016. Burstein said it was a pitiful defense, summing it up as basically, “The dog ate my homework,” he said. “It was an absurd case and I think it’s regrettable. They made some horrific strategic errors.”
Burstein expects Povetkin’s side to make a motion to overturn the verdict, which will delay the timing of when the judge can release the money to Wilder and DiBella. Wilder was set to make around $4.5 million in the bout with Povetkin. The purse remains in escrow. The WBC also planned to give a bonus of $715,000 from Ryabinsky’s winning purse bid to the victor. That amount also remains in escrow, Burstein said. Then there is interest on the purse, which Burstein thinks should be included in the damages awarded. “From my perspective, and from Deontay’s, interest is running at 9%, so as of May, it will be an additional $450,000,” Burstein said. “With the $700,000 held by the WBC — So it’s about $5.1 million as it stands and on top of that there’s another $450,000.”
Burstein said Povetkin can appeal the verdict only after the final judgment is rendered and only after Wilder and DiBella collect their money because of “the way I managed to structure” the case. “They have three weeks to make their motion and then I have three weeks to respond,” he said. “They have two weeks after that to reply and then the judge will make the decision and then I’ll make my summary judgement motion after that.”