Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Dillian Whyte has been pulled just one week out from fight night due to ‘adverse analytical findings’ in a doping test for Whyte.
The pair were set to reignite a domestic rivalry on August 12 at London’s O2 Arena that first played out on the professional scene back in 2015 for the British heavyweight title. Joshua won via highlight-reel knockout, and was looking to do the same to get his campaign back on track.
With fight week just about to get underway, Matchroom today released a statement confirming that the bout has been cancelled.
“Today, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) informed Matchroom, the Association of Boxing Commissions and the British Boxing Board of Control that Dillian Whyte had returned adverse analytical findings as part of a random anti-doping protocol.
In light of this news, the fight will be cancelled, and a full investigation will be conducted. Further information on the event will follow.”
Whyte has been involved in two previous doping scandals, the most recent being an adverse finding before his fight with Oscar Rivas in 2019. The bout went ahead and the Brixton fighter was later cleared of any wrongdoing by UKAD.
He was suspended from fighting in 2012 for two years after testing positive for banned stimulant Methylhexaneamine. Although the National Anti-Doping Panel accepted that Whyte didn’t knowingly ingest the substance, the ban was upheld.
Joshua isn’t a stranger to his fights being cancelled for this very reason. It was also 2019 when his would-be opponent, Jarrell Miller, failed various tests and was pulled from the card.
‘AJ’s first outing in the States went ahead with late-replacement, Andy Ruiz Jr, and he lost his unified world titles.
It’s a massive hit for Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom, who were forced to bin a pay-per-view event for their broadcaster, DAZN, last October when Conor Benn was found to have failed tests.
Whether or not the card will go ahead without Joshua, a last minute replacement drafted in or cancelled entirely is yet to be made clear, although early reports suggest the promotion is searching for an opponent.