Deontay Wilder/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions
Deontay Wilder was supposed to make the next defense of his heavyweight title against Alexander Povetkin on May 21 in Povetkin’s native Russia. But Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, and that bout was canceled.
Wilder announced this week he will instead defend against Chris Arreola of Riverside on July 16 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala. (on Fox). Arreola has twice fought for a heavyweight title, being stopped inside the distance by Vitali Klitschko and Bermane Stiverne in 2009 and 2013, respectively.
Wilder couldn’t say enough about Arreola on Wednesday at a news conference in Birmingham.
“As you see, Chris Arreola stayed patient,” said Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala. “You wonder why he continued to get title fights. It is his time. Some guys get chances after chances and some don’t. You can’t deny him. You can’t look past him. With the circumstances that we were facing, to come back and do a short notice-type fight, as far as looking for opponents, we knew it had to be the right person.
“Placing someone in a category doesn’t define who they are. We needed a fighter that would fit the description that he would fight with his heart, give it his all. I’m happy to introduce you to Chris Arreola. He is the perfect person for this opportunity. I don’t think there is anyone else who could take on this situation.”
Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) knows the 6-foot-7, hard-hitting Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) will be a difficult nut to crack.
“Deontay is a tough SOB,” said Arreola, 35. “An athlete has to be ready for that right hand and that jab. Be careful and be ready at all times.”