The Mexican boxer’s withdrawal from the middleweight title fight was announced at a news conference on Tuesday. His decision comes after he twice tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol in the lead-up to the rematch.
Canelo was handed a temporary suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who last week filed a formal complaint against the boxer seeking disciplinary action, to be decided at an April 18 hearing in Las Vegas. Their complaint immediately threw the fight into serious doubt.
“It’s unlikely this matter will be resolved by [April 18] properly and obviously we need enough time to promote a fight of this magnitude,” Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez said on Tuesday.
A statement from Canelo’s promoters blamed the pair of failed tests on “meat contamination that has impacted dozens of athletes in Mexico over the last years”, but the NASC were quick to make clear that – under Nevada rules – the athlete is responsible for what enters his system, whether intentional or unintentional.
As such, Gomez added that he did not believe Alvarez would have been cleared by the NASC to fight Golovkin on May 5.
Because clenbuterol is classified as a prohibited anabolic agent, the Mexican boxer now faces a minimum one-year suspension. The commission could hand him an even longer ban, but as a first-time offender he could also have his suspension halved to just six-months if he fully cooperates with their investigation.
A six-month suspension backdated to the date of the first positive test means that the 27-year-old could be eligible to box again on August 17, meaning his eagerly anticipated rematch with Golovkin could be rescheduled for the Mexican Independence Day weekend in mid-September.
However, Golovkin’s team have indicated that the Kazakh is determined to fight on May 5 and have already started contacting potential opponents.
“GGG wants to fight on May 5 in Las Vegas, so in order to do that we have to go through the commission procedure and the official process,” his promoter, Tom Loeffler, said earlier this week.
“Anyone who booked a plane ticket or who was planning to come to Las Vegas for Cinco de Mayo weekend to see GGG fight, don't cancel your ticket, because we're planning a GGG fight on May 5, whether it's against Canelo or somebody else.”
Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Demetrius Andrade and the Irish boxer Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan are all in the frame to replace Canelo. But Billy Joe Saunders – who holds the WBO middleweight strap – injured his hand in a training session ahead of his fight with Martin Murray, and so would be unable to make the date.
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