DEONTAY WILDER RETURNS IN FEBRUARY — WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder will defend his title against Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk on Feb. 25 at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, AL. So says Tuscaloosa (AL) sportswriter Aaron Suttles who broke the story on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) will be making the fifth defense of the title he won on Jan. 17, 2015 in Las Vegas with a lopsided decision over Bermane Stiverne.
In previous title defenses, Wilder, an Alabama native, stopped Eric Molina, Artur Szpilka, Johann Duhaupas, and Chris Arreola. The Molina, Duhaupas, and Arreola bouts were staged here in Birmingham.
In his last go this past July, Wilder pummeled Arreola into submission. The bout was halted after eight rounds. However, he emerged from the contest with a hand injury and a torn biceps, both of which required surgery. Wilder resumed training this month.
The Wilder-Arreola match replaced a match between Wilder and Alexander Povetkin that was slated for May 21, 2016 in Moscow. That match fell out when Povetkin tested positive for meldonium, a drug that VADA (the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) added to the list of illegal substances on Jan. 1, 2016.
The WBC ultimately cleared Povetkin on the grounds that it was impossible to prove that he had ingested the drug after the date it was placed on the list of banned substances. That cleared the way for Povetkin to fight Bermane Stiverne in a title eliminator this past weekend (Dec. 17). However, that match also fell out when it was revealed that Povetkin had again tested positive, this time for the banned substance ostarine.
The announcement that Wilder’s management had picked Andrzej Wawrzyk as his next opponent undoubtedly has Don King seeing red. When Povetkin-Stiverne fell out, King implored the WBC to mandate a Wilder-Stiverne rematch. That King has been spurned speaks reams about his declining influence and perhaps says something about WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman being his own man. Sulaiman’s late father, former WBC honcho Jose Sulaiman, was widely regarded as little more than a Don King puppet.
Andrzej Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs) is a 29-year-old 6-foot-5 Pole who weighs about 240 pounds. This is his second stab at a world title. In May of 2013, he was stopped in the third round in Myakinino, Russia by the aforementioned Povetkin who was then recognized as the WBA world heavyweight champion.
This will be Wawrzyk’s second appearance at Legacy Arena. In September of 2015, he appeared on the undercard of Wilder’s title defense against Johann Duhaupas. Wawrzyk was matched against Mike Sheppard, a 40-year-old campaigner from West Virginia who had been knocked out 12 times in his 43 pro bouts, six in the opening round. Wawrzyk put away Sheppard in the third frame.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel