WBC heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder will reportedly next defend his title against Andrzej Wawrzyk on Feb. 25, 2017, at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Wilder suffered a broken right hand and a torn right biceps during his most recent victory, an eighth-round stoppage of Chris Arreola in July. Suttles noted the injuries required multiple surgeries, with the champion only getting back to training sessions this month.
The 31-year-old Alabama native originally won the WBC heavyweight belt from Bermane Stiverne by unanimous decision in January 2015. He's successfully defended it four times, all inside the distance, to move his career record to 37-0 (36 KOs).
He told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times in August he planned to hit the ground running once he returned to full strength.
"Once I heal up, I'm coming back in full force," Wilder said. "I'm coming to win all the belts. My goal is to be the unified champion. I don't need no tuneups, no warm-ups. I'm going straight back to where I'm at."
Wawrzyk comes into the fight with a 33-1 record. The only loss came to former WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin in 2013.
The 29-year-old challenger is riding a six-fight winning streak. He won both his 2016 bouts by knockout over fellow Polish boxers Albert Sosnowski and Marcin Rekowski.
Ultimately, it's not the most difficult challenge for Wilder after he comes back from injury. BoxRec.com ranks Wawrzyk as the No. 29 heavyweight in the world. He lacks high-profile fights aside from the loss to Povetkin, a third-round knockout.
It will be intriguing to see whether Wilder can secure a similarly lopsided result to set the stage for his own potential meeting with Povetkin. The division needs more clashes between the top fighters to generate more mainstream interest after a steady fade over the past decade.