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Andrey Ryabinsky wins purse bid for Povetkin-Stiverne title fight

Since promoters Andrey Ryabinsky of World of Boxing and Don King were unable to make a deal, the vacant interim heavyweight title fight between former titleholders Alexander Povetkin and Bermane Stiverne went to a purse bid on Friday, and Ryabinsky won by knockout.

Ryabinsky, Povetkin's promoter, won the WBC purse bid at a New York hotel with an offer of $3.165 million, easily beating out the two other bids submitted.

Don King, who promotes Stiverne, bid $2.1 million, and Camille Estephan of Eye of the Tiger, which used to work with Stiverne, bid $542,000.

The split is 50-50, so Povetkin and Stiverne are each entitled to $1,424,250 apiece. The remaining 10 percent of the winning bid, $316,500, will go to the winner of the fight as a bonus.

According to the WBC, World of Boxing has 15 days to provide the date of the fight and the location and 21 days to deliver signed contracts to the organization.

Also, both fighters are required to be part of the WBC's Clean Boxing Program, which has contracted with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association to handle random testing for its world title fights (blood and urine). Povetkin has already enrolled. Stiverne must still do so, the WBC said.

Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs) and Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) are meeting for the vacant interim belt while world titleholder Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) recovers from surgery on his right hand and right biceps after he suffered injuries in an eighth-round knockout of Chris Arreola on July 16 to retain the title. Wilder will be sidelined until at least early 2017 and is obligated to fight the winner of Povetkin-Stiverne upon his return.

Wilder already owns a lopsided decision win against Stiverne, 37, a Haiti native living in Las Vegas. Wilder handily defeated Stiverne to win the title in January 2015.

Wilder was due to face Povetkin, 37, of Russia, in a mandatory defense this year on May 21 in Moscow, Russia, after Ryabinsky also won a purse bid to gain control of that fight. But Povetkin tested positive for trace amounts of the banned substance meldonium, and the fight was canceled.

However, the WBC investigated Povetkin's failed drug test and ultimately elected not to punish him, because the amount of the substance in his system was far below the threshold accepted by the World Anti-Doping Agency in an updated notice on the drug published in June. The ban on the drug went into effect Jan. 1. While Povetkin has admitted to using it, he has said he did not take it after the ban began.

Questions remain, however, about how Povetkin could have tested negative in random VADA doping tests conducted on April 7, 8 and 11, while the A and B samples from his April 27 test were positive for meldonium.

Povetkin and Wilder are suing each other over the cancellation of the May fight, and the WBC on Friday made a ruling related to that bout in addition to holding the purse bid.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the WBC hereby states that the WBC ruling was not intended to convey, and should not be construed as conveying, a conclusion about whether Mr. Povetkin did or did not take meldonium after it became a banned substance on January 1, 2016," WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said.

Sulaiman also clarified the WBC's position as to what would happen once the Povetkin and Wilder lawsuit goes to trial, possibly as early as February barring a settlement.

"If Mr. Wilder prevails at that trial, the WBC shall afford Mr. Povetkin the opportunity to show that the trial's result was not based on a finding that Mr. Povetkin ingested meldonium after January 1, 2016," Sulaiman said. "If Mr. Povetkin fails to make that showing the WBC shall: (a) withdraw recognition of Povetkin as interim world champion (if he wins that title); (b) withdraw any mandatory challenger status he might have; and (c) impose any penalties upon Mr. Povetkin as per the WBC Clean Boxing Program protocol, which includes suspensions and fines."