Lucas Browne stripped of WBA title, suspended for six-months; the belt goes back to Chagaev

Australian heavyweight Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne, who won a version of the WBA title with an heroic upset stoppage win over Ruslan Chagaev back in March, has been stripped of the title and banned for six months. Fans may have read about how Browne tested positive for the weight loss aid Clenbuterol shortly after his big win and now, added to his A sample coming up positive, Browne’s B sample, released yesterday, also tested positive. The WBA have now stripped Browne and returned the belt to Chagaev, who has 120 days in which to negotiate a defence against Fres Oquendo; a man he has already out-pointed.

Browne always has, and still does, maintain his innocence, and the tests he took before he arrived in Russia all came back clean. Browne, who cannot fight for the WBA – either a ranking or a title – until September, can still theoretically fight under the rules of the other sanctioning bodies. Browne released a short statement regarding his next move:

“I’m leaving everything to my lawyer. I want to tank everyone for their support, especially the people and fans of Australia,” he said.

The punishment Browne has received, though bad enough, could have been worse; the ban being just six months, the minimum sentence the WBA could have handed down. But has far worse damage been done to Browne’s reputation? Browne maintains he did not knowingly take Clenbuterol and many fans agree with him. But will Browne ever get another world title opportunity? If he does, will he, at age 37, be able to defeat a fighter as formidable as a Tyson Fury or a Deontay Wilder? Browne faced the “weakest” of the reigning champions when he met ageing tiger Chagaev, yet his win – now a no-decision – was a genuine feel good moment in the sport.

Now fight fans await the wholly unexciting prospect of seeing Chagaev-Oquendo II. Chagaev won a dull affair back in July of 2014, winning a 12-round majority decision. This fight, like the Browne fight, took place in Grozny, and Oquendo will almost certainly have to go back there for his rematch with the 37-year-old southpaw. Also likely is a second points win for Chagaev.

It’s tough not to feel real sympathy for Browne right now.