Canelo Alvarez, confronting a suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission later this month for submitting two positive drug tests, withdrew Tuesday from his scheduled May 5 rematch with middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
“I am truly shocked by what has happened and I lament this has led people to have doubts about my athletic integrity. I have always been a clean fighter,” Alvarez said in a prepared statement he read at Golden Boy Promotions’ office in Los Angeles. “I apologize for all the inconvenience this has caused to everyone involved in this event.”
The move comes before a scheduled April 18 Nevada commission hearing for Mexico’s former two-division champion. While Nevada regulations call for a one-year suspension, leniency can be afforded to trim the penalty to six months, allowing Alvarez to fight again in late summer, one year after his Mexican Independence Day weekend draw with Golovkin.
That bout generated more than $27 million in live-gate earnings at T-Mobile Arena with 1.3 million pay-per-view buys on HBO.
Golovkin, who has remained in training, wants to fight on May 5, and it’s expected his promoter, Tom Loeffler, will select a replacement opponent for Alvarez within the coming days. Golden Boy’s Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan and former 154-pound champion Demetrius Andrade are the leading contenders for the pay-per-view opening.
“I am looking forward to returning to Las Vegas for my 20th title [fight] and headlining my first Cinco de Mayo event on May 5,” unbeaten, three-belt champion Golovkin said in a statement emailed by his publicist. “It is time for less drama and more fighting.”
Nevada commissioners can reduce the suspension if they are convinced Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 knockouts) is taking full accountability for ingesting the banned, performance-enhancing substance clenbuterol.
Alvarez and his promoters, Oscar De La Hoya and company president Eric Gomez, were asked how strenuously they considered the dangers of eating clenbuterol-contaminated beef in Mexico after two other well-known Golden Boy fighters — 2018 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Erik Morales and former super-featherweight world champion Francisco Vargas — had both previously done so.
Gomez took the blame for not warning Alvarez of a problem that has been so prominent that the NFL has previously warned its players not to eat Mexican meat.
“We didn’t [advise Canelo] and it’s very unfortunate we didn’t, but we’re taking the proper measures now and we’re in the process of notifying our fighters,” Gomez said.
Alvarez explained, “There is a public problem in my country of Mexico over the last years. Many athletes from many sports have tested positive for clenbuterol … contaminated meat is what caused this test. That is my case.
“I am a clean fighter. However, I respect the Nevada commission and I understand under its laws and regulations there are certain penalties and sanctions even for unintentional results and consuming [clenbuterol]. The rematch will have to wait a little longer. I wanted to get in the ring and prove once and for all I am the best middleweight world. I’m sad and I feel powerless … .”
Gomez said in a prepared statement that he is “hopeful Canelo can fight in the summer, and that we can reschedule the fight for August or September.” The suspension time starts with Alvarez’s first positive test result on Feb. 17.
Noticeably absent from the conversation was an apology by Alvarez to Golovkin or the Nevada commission.
While the April 18 hearing may acknowledge Alvarez’s case, a full hearing on the matter may take place at a later date, according to officials familiar with the case.
“I want to prove I never intentionally ingested clenbuterol,” Alvarez said. “I will do everything I need to do to demonstrate I have not taken any illegal substance. That is the most important thing: to prove I am a clean fighter.”
He said he’s taken more than 90 drug tests in his career, and De La Hoya praised him as “honorable.”
It became evident last month that any perceived wiggle room related to Alvarez’s excuse of eating clenbuterol-laced beef in Mexico — or of the millions of dollars his middleweight-title rematch with Golovkin would’ve brought to the state — was nonexistent because of Nevada’s regulations.
Morales and Vargas were allowed to fight with their opponents' consent in New York and California, respectively.
Alvarez remained in Mexico after entering the Voluntary Anti-Doping Assn. testing program on Feb. 3, and submitted positive tests for clenbuterol on Feb. 17 and 20.
In filing its complaint against Alvarez last week, the commission pointed to a regulation that reads, “It is the duty of each [fighter] to ensure that no prohibited substance enters his or her body … . To establish a violation of this section, it is not necessary to establish that the [fighter] intentionally, knowingly or negligently used a prohibited substance, or that the [he] is otherwise at fault for the use of a prohibited substance.”
As he was boxed into looming discipline, Alvarez also was heavily criticized by Golovkin, who railed at what he perceived to be the preferential treatment given Alvarez by Nevada judges in the September bout, and called out Alvarez for recklessness in testing positive for a substance that builds stamina and endurance early in training camp.
“What Golovkin or his team say does not bother me at all,” Alvarez said. “They’re not experts or doctors.