Los Angeles (AFP) – Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Tuesday withdrew from his May 5 rematch against middleweight rival Gennady Golovkin in the wake of his failed drugs test.
“We’re going to have to cancel the May 5 rematch,” Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told reporters in Los Angeles.
Mexican star Alvarez, who was already under suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, insisted in a statement he was a “clean fighter”.
“I am truly shocked about what has happened, and for those who have doubts and suspicions about my integrity I have always been and always will be a clean fighter,” Alvarez said.
“I want to apologize to … everyone who is involved in the promotion of this event and especially to the fans. I respect this sport. I will always be a clean fighter.”
Alvarez and Golovkin fought to a controversial draw in their first meeting in Las Vegas last September, a fight most neutrals believed unified champion Golovkin had won.
Their rematch at the T-Mobile Arena next month was expected to be one of the biggest fights of 2018 but was thrown into uncertainty after it emerged Alvarez had tested positive for Clenbuterol on February 17 and 20.
Alvarez and Golden Boy had steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, saying the drug had entered the fighter’s system inadvertently through contaminated meat in his native Mexico.
The fight was initially expected to go ahead but was placed in jeopardy when the Nevada commission temporarily suspended Alvarez on March 23 and set a hearing date for April 10.
Nevada commission executive director Bob Bennett subsequently filed a formal complaint against Alvarez requesting that authorities consider a formal suspension against the Mexican fighter at a regularly scheduled meeting on April 18.
The T-Mobile Arena had already started offering refunds for people who had bought tickets for the fight, venue owner MGM Resorts International said.
Golovkin — who accused Alvarez of deliberately taking performance-enhancing drugs but was nevertheless ready to fight — said in a statement he planned to press ahead with a bout on May 5 against an as-yet unknown opponent.
“I am looking forward to returning to Las Vegas for my 20th title defense and headlining my first Cinco De Mayo event on May 5,” Golovkin said in comments emailed to AFP.
“It is time for less drama and more fighting.”
Alvarez could in theory face up to a year’s suspension for his failed drugs test.
However, given it is a first offence, and provided he co-operates with Nevada investigators, he could see that sentence reduced to six months.
With drug sanctions in boxing backdated to the date of the failed test, a six-month ban would mean he would be free to reschedule his meeting with Golovkin on the Mexican Independence Day holiday weekend in early September — a popular slot for fights in Las Vegas.