Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) has now been the WBC heavyweight champion for two years since winning the belt off of former WBC champion Bermane Stiverne in January 2015. Wilder STILL hasn’t made his first mandatory defense of his title, and he’s had four relatively easy voluntary defenses against these guys: Johann Duhaupas, Eric Molina, Artur Szpilka, and Chris Arreola.
Wilder, 31, is now making an almost unheard of fifth voluntary defense next month against #12 WBC Andrzej Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs) on February 25 at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. You can ignore Wawrzyk’s impressive won-lost record, because those wins were against weak opposition and not against the cream of the crop in the top 15.
Some boxing fans are not surprisingly upset at the soft match-making that has been done for Wilder by his promoters, as they want to see the 6’7” American heavyweight take on some good opposition for once like Luis Ortiz, David Haye, Dillian Whyte, Alexander Povetkin, Andy Ruiz Jr., Joseph Parker, Jarrell Miller and Hughie Fury.
Of course, boxing being a political sport at times, it might not be possible for Wilder to get some of those fighters to agree to face him. However, at least one of them would clearly agree to fight Wilder if the fight were offered to them. It’s hard to imagine Whyte or Miller turning down a fight against Wilder, because it would give them a great payday and a chance to win the WBC heavyweight title, which is seen by many to be the most prestigious of the title belts in the division.
The reality is, Wilder has looked good in beating the opposition he’s faced since winning the WBC title. Wilder struggled to beat Szpilka and Molina. Wilder wasn’t able to take out either of those fighters quickly, and he should have been if he were the real deal.
It’s fair to say that Wilder’s fight against the 29-year-old Wawrzyk next month is a step down in quality from his last title defense against a past his best Chris Arreola last July. Wawrzyk, 6’7”, is not a puncher, and he has a bad habit of hiding behind his guard and not letting his hands go. Wawrzyk is the perfect opponent for a fighter like Wilder, who seems to do well against guys that use a high guard on him.
The good news is that Wilder will almost surely be facing a high quality opponent in 2017. There’s talk of him facing IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in a unification fight, possibly in the summer. What’s sad about that is Wilder will still not have faced his mandatory challenger. You can say that the Joshua fight will be a cash out for Wilder, with him getting a big payday in likely getting stopped by the British heavyweight.