Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte will not renew their bitter rivalry this weekend after their fight was cancelled.
The highly-anticipated rematch between the pair has been called off after Whyte returned ‘adverse analytical findings’ in a VADA test.
Despite the cancellation, ‘AJ’ will still be fighting at the O2 Arena this weekend – live on talkSPORT.
He will now fight Robert Helenius, who has stepped in on four days’ notice to take on the two-time former heavyweight champion.
Why was Joshua vs Whyte 2 cancelled?
On Saturday, it was revealed that a Whyte drugs test result had led to his rematch with AJ being cancelled.
Eddie Hearn has confirmed that he received the information on Saturday morning in an email from VADA at 00:07am.
Upon speaking with AJ and his team once they’d woken up later that morning, the decision was made to cancel the fight.
A statement from Hearn’s company Matchroom read: “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.”
This is the second fight promoted by Hearn that has been cancelled due to a failed drugs test after Conor Benn vs Chris Eubank Jr was called off.
However, this is a very different process to the one Hearn experienced a year ago with Benn as he battled to keep the fight on before the BBBofC (British Boxing Board of Control) intervened and prohibited the clash.
“There’s quite a few differences,” Hearn told talkSPORT. “Firstly the tests, the results, the substances were very different.
“Secondly the conversations between the teams were different.
“Don’t forget, that was a co-promotion [with Eubank Jr’s promoters Wasserman] the Benn vs Eubank Jr fight, this is purely a Matchroom promotion.
“When we spoke to Wasserman they wanted to investigate the situation further. There was a lot of cloud over the fact that the board don’t recognise VADA because they’ve done it previously.
“And Eubank’s team said, after taking medical advice, they were willing to proceed with the bout, subject to what the BBBofC had to say.
“In this instance, AJ and his team looked at the results and wanted to terminate the contract immediately.
“And I will say, hands up, we learned a lot last time.”
After hearing the news over the weekend, Joshua texted Hearn and the promoter has since read out this classy text live on talkSPORT.
“Great Morning,” Joshua said to Hearn. “I can only imagine the time and effort you and your team have put into organising a fight night.
“Just to say sorry about the news. Thank you for all you and Matchroom do for me, it’s appreciated and I never take it for granted.”
Meanwhile, Whyte released a statement to say he was ‘shocked and devastated’ after the news was revealed.
The 35-year-old said: “I am shocked and devastated to learn of a report by VADA of adverse findings relating to me.
“I only learned of it this morning and am still reacting to it.
“I have also just seen that the fight is being cancelled without having any chance to demonstrate my innocence before the decision was taken.
“I can confirm without a shadow of doubt that I have not taken the reported substance, in this camp or at any point in my life.
“I am completely innocent and ask to be given the time to go through the process of proving this without anybody jumping to conclusions or by trial by media.
“I insisted on 24/7 VADA testing for this fight, as I have done voluntarily and at my own expense for all of my fights for many, many years.
“This is not the first time that I have been reported as having an adverse finding for a substance which I have not taken, and as I did last time, I will again prove that I am completely innocent.
“In the meantime, all I can do is express my extreme disappointment to boxing fans, who will miss out on what was sure to be a great event.”