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Kovalev Told Duva He Didn’t Knowingly Ingest PED, Tainted Supplemented Mentioned As Possible Culprit

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Tuesday, Jan. 19 update: In case you were curious, as I was, here you go: YES, Buddy McGirt is still trainer to Sergey Kovalev.

The NY native confirmed that to me on Tuesday.

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“Stuff happens,” that’s how Kathy Duva summed up the most disappointing news that Sergey Kovalev’s PED positive caused the cancellation of a Jan. 30 fight card and the main event pitting the 37 year old Russian ex champ against a 6-0 Uzbek upstart, Bek ‘The Bully’ Melikuziev.

It wasn’t that she was detached and resigned. She didn’t pretend to be in a merry mood during a Friday afternoon call, but more so that she’s been in the game for five decades, and so the unexpected, when it arrives, is a foe that has been dealt with before, and will be again as long as she stays in the fight game. 

So, I asked, did you break the news to Kovalev, the 37 year old ex light heavy champ who holds a 34-4-1 mark? 

“He said, ‘I didn’t take anything I wasn’t supposed to,” Duva told me, noting that an investigation will be done, and that she and Team Kovalev are awaiting the results of the ‘B’ sample, to see if it matches the adverse finding in the ‘A’ sample. 

Sergey Kovalev in the ring for his 2019 fight against Canelo Alvarez.

Sergey Kovalev tested positive for synthetic testosterone and his Jan. 30, 2021 fight was cancelled. He’s had a rough run inside and outside the ring the last few years.

“The Kovalev vs. Melikuziev boxing event scheduled for Jan. 30 has been cancelled following a positive test for a banned substance on behalf of Sergey Kovalev through the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA),” read the Friday early afternoon release from Golden Boy, the lead promoter for the card topped by the vet vs rising possible future star. “Upon learning of Kovalev’s adverse finding, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) determined that they must cancel the event.”

Duva will hold out some hope that the ‘B’ sample tells a different tune and no presence of synthetic testosterone, which would be an illegal performance enhancer and grounds for punishment. “We believe this is a case of Sergey taking a tainted supplement, which happens.” There is a history of mis-labeled supplements causing PED positives, Duva continued, and situations where the product gets defiled in the factory.

The California commission will be collecting information, and Duva said she wasn’t sure about a possible timeline for the commission’s due diligence to play out. “He’s been tested for years and years, it’s never been a problem,” she said. 

The boxer, who has had a rough couple of years dealing with outside the ring legal issues, has been in California. It looks like his rough patch continues. “All the fighters take supplements, you have to be really careful,” she continued. “This is going to take awhile, getting the B sample, and a hearing. With COVID, labs and testing are behind.” 

The last high profile boxer to get flagged for a PED positive was Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller, who got in hot water ahead of his July 9, 2020 match against Jerry Forrest. In December, the Nevada commission announced that they were suspending Miller for two years, with the possibility that sentence gets reduced if Miller meets guidelines set by Nevada. He’d dodged a bullet, of sorts, when he’d escaped a stiffer sentence when he got nabbed for PED use ahead of a June 1, 2019 $9 million or so title challenge against Anthony Joshua. Miller was able to come back without having to jump through hoops because he hadn’t received a license to fight in NY, and therefore the NY commission didn’t have the power to suspend him. His explanation for the AJ fight snafu drew hoots in some circles. Miller after getting nailed before the Forrest fight explained that he didn’t knowingly take any banned substance. In fact, he threw a “sex pill” under the base, blaming a bodega brand over the counter sexual performance enhancer for containing two different designer performance enhancers. I would have liked to be in the Nevada hearing, to know if Miller or a rep told the ruling body that the makers of “Black Ant King” were responsible for his June 2020 misstep.

Kovalev doesn’t have the PED pops on his resume that Miller does, so he probably has that going for him. But, it’s true, his ‘hijinks’ have been piling up, and he’s right there with Adrien Broner, arguably, in terms of misbehaving. Duva stands by her boxer.

In recent weeks, Duva had seen the chatter, with people counting her guy out, opining that he was ripe to get picked off by Melikuziev. “Yeah, I was glad, that people were counting him out,” she said, because a win would have been that much more meaningful.

Now? Kovalev repeats a routine he got familiar with in 2020. Kovalev waits for investigators to collect information, and he knows that he could be in for some stern consequences for his actions, behaviors and choices. 

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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