With promoters Don King and Andrey Ryabinsky of World of Boxing unable to make a deal for the WBC-mandated interim heavyweight title bout between former titleholders Alexander Povetkin and Bermane Stiverne, a purse bid is scheduled for Friday in New York.
The fight will be put up for auction, and the promoter who offers the most money will gain promotional control of the bout. The boxers will split the winning bid 50-50.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN that three promoters have registered to bid: King, World of Boxing and Titov Boxing Promotions. Others can register up to 4 p.m. ET on Friday, which is when the auction is scheduled to take place at a Manhattan Hotel.
Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs), 37, and Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs), 37, were ordered to meet because world titleholder Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) suffered right hand and biceps injuries in his eighth-round knockout of Chris Arreola on July 16 and required surgery that will keep him out of the ring until at least early next year.
When Wilder is healthy enough to return, he is obligated to face the Povetkin-Stiverne winner. He was supposed to make a mandatory defense against Povetkin, of Russia, on May 21 in Moscow, but Povetkin tested positive for trace amounts of the banned substance meldonium less than two weeks before the fight, and it was canceled. That allowed Wilder's handlers to set up the fight with Arreola on somewhat short notice.
The WBC, whose title Wilder holds, investigated Povetkin's failed drug test and also met with the Wilder and Povetkin camps, eventually electing not to punish Povetkin for the failed test 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 in June. The ban on the drug went into effect on Jan. 1. Povetkin has admitted to using it but said he did not use it after the ban began.
However, in its ruling, the WBC failed to address how Povetkin's random Voluntary Anti-Doping Association doping tests conducted on April 7, 8 and 11 could have been negative, but his A and B samples from his April 27 test were positive. As part of its ruling, the WBC said Povetkin and Stiverne must participate in the WBC's new Clean Boxing Program, which means they will be randomly tested (blood and urine) by VADA.
Stiverne, a Haiti native living in Las Vegas, was outclassed by Wilder in a lopsided decision loss that cost him the belt in January 2015. Stiverne has fought just once since, a 10-round decision win against journeyman Derric Rossy 11 months ago in a fight in which Stiverne got knocked down in the first round.
"I would like to thank Don King and the honorable Mauricio Sulaiman of the WBC for giving me this opportunity to fight for the heavyweight title once again," Stiverne said. "For the betterment of boxing in general, and the heavyweight division in particular, I plan to knock Povetkin out and bring this title to America. Then I will get my revenge against Wilder, when he is ready."
Povetkin has won four fights in a row, all by knockout, since his lone defeat, a one-sided decision challenging then-world champion Wladimir Klitschko in October 2013.
King said he has received calls from those interested in hosting the fight, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and the Philippines, both places where King was involved in promoting famous Muhammad Ali fights.
"I have been taking calls, for weeks, from interested parties, and we will consider all options," said King, who will control where the fight will take place if he wins the purse bid.