Three-time world light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev’s eagerly awaited January 30 clash with Bektemir ‘Bek Bully’ Melikuziev now appears doomed after the Russian veteran returned a positive test for synthetic testosterone.

Journalist Dan Rafael broke the story on Twitter after obtaining a copy of the VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) letter outlining the details of Kovalev’s positive test.

Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) was due to return to the ring after a near 15-month absence, having lost his WBO 175lbs crown to Canelo Alvarez in 11 rounds in November 2019. His promoter Main Events have confirmed Kovalev will now request a ‘B’ sample as he attempts to clear his name.

Uzbek Melikuziev (6-0, 5 KOs) is considered one of boxing’s blue chip prospects and was a healthy 1/4 favourite heading into the 178lbs catchweight contest at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.

After the news broke on Thursday afternoon, Melikuziev insisted he was still willing to fight Kovalev despite the failed test though, sadly, that intriguing battle now seems unlikely to take place.