Saul “Canelo” Alvarez could return to the ring in 2018 after the Nevada Athletic Commission unanimously approved Wednesday to hand the Mexican fighter a six-month suspension for an anti-doping violation.
Alvarez was facing a one-year suspension during his disciplinary hearing at the Grant Sawyer building in downtown, but the two parties signed an agreement before the meeting to request a lighter punishment.
Caroline Bateman, who represented the commission, suggested a punishment of six months and no fine because Alvarez was a first-time offender and cooperative with executive director Bob Bennett’s investigation. The Nevada commission voted 5-0 to pass the request.
Alvarez, who did not attend the hearing, now has the green light from the commission to pursue a Sept. 15 rematch against Gennady Golovkin. The two boxers were scheduled to meet May 5 at T-Mobile Arena before Alvarez withdrew from the bout on April 3.
Alvarez twice tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol in February. The Nevada Commission put Alvarez on temporary suspension on March 23.
The former two-division champion said he didn’t take the banned substance intentionally and pinned the positive drug tests on contaminated meat he ate in Mexico.
“As we have maintained all along, the trace amounts of clenbuterol found in Canelo’s system in February came from meat contamination, and we provided the Nevada State Athletic Commission with a great deal of evidence to support those facts,” Golden Boy Promotions, Alvarez’s promoter, said in a statement.
“Although most professional sports, international anti-doping agencies and United States boxing commissions treat meat contamination differently from other positive tests, Nevada does not. Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions respect the rules of Nevada and are therefore satisfied with the settlement agreement reached today.
“Canelo looks forward to returning to the ring in September for Mexican Independence Day weekend to represent Mexico and boxing, in what will be the sport’s biggest event of the year. He is ready to continue his remarkable record of fighting at the highest level.”
Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, and trainer, Abel Sanchez, attended the meeting Wednesday. Before Alvarez’s ruling, Loeffler announced that Golovkin will fight May 5 against Vanes Martirosyan at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
“They gave him the minimum suspension under their rules based on the findings,” Loeffler said. “We trust that (the commission) did a thorough investigation.
“From our standpoint, Triple G was the most damaged from this situation because we had to really scramble to save the Cinco de Mayo date.”
Loeffler said he wanted Alvarez to also get fined, but Bennett explained Alvarez didn’t warrant one because the positive tests didn’t come after a fight.
“If you come forward and take ownership and responsibility for having that prohibited substance in your system then we’re able to deviate from one-year suspension as much as 50 percent, as in today’s case,” said Bennett, who met with Alvarez last month in Las Vegas for an 80-minute interview.
“He answered all my questions and was very respectful and very professional, and at the conclusion of the interview, we shook hands and he knew what we had to do.”
Golovkin and Alvarez had a controversial split draw at T-Mobile Arena in September.