Deontay Wilder to fight replacement opponent Gerald Washington on February 25
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) will fight replacement opponent Gerald Washington (18-0-1, 12 KOs) on February 25 at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Washington, a U.S Navy veteran and former college American football player for the University of Southern California, gets the chance to challenge his fellow American after Wilder's original opponent Andrzej Wawrzyk tested positive for a banned substance.
Wilder returns from injury after he suffered a fractured right hand and tore his right biceps during his stoppage win over Chris Arreola in July.
On the same card, Washington, 34, scored a fourth round knockout over faded former world title challenger Ray Austin.
The 31-year-old Wilder is waiting to fight the winner of the April 29 clash between IBF champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) and former world champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs), but first he will need to get past Washington.
"I was disappointed when Wawrzyk tested positive for a banned substance and wasn’t available to fight." said Wilder. "I didn’t want to disappoint my loyal fans in Birmingham, who have always supported me. I’m glad Gerald Washington stepped up to the challenge and allowed us to go forward with the show. He’s a tall heavyweight (6-foot-6) with a good jab and the kind of test that I need coming back from surgery on my biceps muscle and my right hand. I’m looking forward to putting on a good show for all my fans.”
Washington has built up a decent record of wins but he's never fought at top level and will be a huge underdog.
"I’m very happy to get this opportunity to fight for my first world championship," said Washington. "I know that I’ll be fighting Deontay Wilder in his backyard, but that adds more excitement to the fight for me. I’m looking forward to going to Birmingham and coming away with a victory just like I did in my last fight there."
Wilder's promoter Lou DiBella said: "In this case, losing an opponent has resulted in a much better match-up for fight fans.
"Gerald Washington, one of the highest rated American heavyweights, is a huge man and a physical specimen."