WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder has been granted another optional title defense by the WBC last week after his mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin won’t be ready to fight until spring. The 36 year old Povetkin suffered a cut over his left eye during his 12th round KO win over Mariusz Wach last November 4 and won’t be available for Wilder’s next scheduled bout in January 2016.
A Busy Year
According to Showtime, which will cover Wilder’s third title defense, the bout will be held at the Barclays Center in New York, against an opponent to be determined. That bout will be the fourth in a busy one year period for Wilder. He defeated Bermane Stiverne by a lopsided decision to win the WBC title in January 17, 2014 and defended it on June 13 with a 9th round KO of Eric Molina. Wilder returned last September 26 to make a second title defense, knocking out Johann Duhaupas in 11 rounds to improve his record to 35-0 with 34 KOs.
Wilder is the first American Heavyweight champion in nearly a decade. His knockout rate of 97.1% is one of the highest current KO rates in the sport. Wilder represented the United States in the 2008 Olympics, reaching the semifinals and winning a bronze medal-hence the nickname “Bronze Bomber”. Although he started boxing relatively late, Wilder has been a fast learner and with his size, mobility and power, he has risen among the elites in boxing’s premier weight class.
A Pressure Fighter
A fight against Povetkin will be Wilder’s biggest test to date as the former WBA Heavyweight champion and 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist is a pressure fighter who has an impressive record of 30-1 with 22 KOs. Povetkin has won four fights in a row, all by knockout, since losing his heavyweight title to current unified champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2013. Povetkin went the full 12 round route with Klitschko although he was knocked down a total of four times during their fight. Povetkin holds notable victories over former world champions Chris Byrd, Marco Huck, Ruslan Chagaev and Hashim Rahman.
Quality of Opposition
Boxing pundits have been critical of Wilder’s choice of opposition, especially in his first two title defenses. Although he beat a solid fighter in Stiverne to win the title, he hasn’t fought anyone of the same caliber in his career. Instead, Wilder’s been busy fighting as much as he can in the past year, but against handpicked foes who were chosen to make him look good. In most probability, Wilder’s camp will choose a similar foe for January 16. But once that fight with Povetkin is booked later this year, we’ll finally see what kind of stuff The Bronze Bomber is truly made of.