Wilder to defend heavyweight crown February 25 against Wawrzyk

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It’s official: The Bronze Bomber is coming back—live and in prime time!

Deontay Wilder and Chris Arreola

Even with his eyes closed, heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder proved too much for Chris Arreola last summer, winning by eighth-round stoppage for his 36th knockout in 37 pro fights. (Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)

On the shelf since mid-July because of injuries to his right hand and arm, heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) will make his long-awaited return to the ring February 25 when he defends his title against Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs).

The bout from Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, will be Wilder’s fifth title defense—and fourth in his home state—and it will air live on Fox (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).

Wilder put a beat-down on Chris Arreola at Legacy Arena on July 16, earning an eighth-round stoppage win. In pummeling Arreola, though, the 31-year-old champion broke bones in his right hand and tore his right biceps.

Both injuries required surgery, forcing the usually active Wilder to the sidelines for several months.

“I’m excited about defending my world championship for a fifth time and in front of my great fans at Legacy Arena in Birmingham on February 25,” Wilder said. “It’s always fun to display my talents in front of the hometown fans. It’s an opportunity that I always look forward to, and it brings out the best in me.

"I’m healthy and I’m ready to put on a fantastic show.”

Three of Wilder’s last four fights have taken place Birmingham, the only exception being his ninth-round knockout of Artur Szpilka in Brooklyn, New York, last January. In addition to the win over Arreola, Wilder defeated Eric Molina by ninth-round knockout at Bartow Arena in June 2015 and Johann Duhaupas by 11th-round TKO at Legacy Arena in September 2015.

In Wawrzyk, Wilder will be facing a big puncher who has stopped six consecutive opponents since suffering his only setback, a third-round TKO loss to Alexander Povetkin in May 2013.

Most recently, the 29-year-old Wawrzyk needed six rounds to finish off veteran Albert Sosnowski in Gdansk, Poland on September 17. His only other fight last year was a seventh-round TKO of Marcin Rekowski on April 2 in Krakow, Poland.

The 6-foot-5 Wawrzyk, who will be giving away two inches to the 6-7 Wilder, will be fighting in the United States for the third time and the first since his third-round TKO of Mike Sheppard on the Duhaupas-Wilder undercard at Legacy Arena.

“I’m extremely motivated to fight for the heavyweight title against a great fighter like Deontay Wilder,” Wawrzyk said. “Fighting for the world title has always been my dream. To fight against such a great athlete as Wilder is an extremely difficult challenge, but one I am ready for.

"I have trained for this since I was a teenager. On February 25, I will step into the ring ready to fight and win against the most dangerous man on the planet.”

For complete coverage of Wilder vs Wawrzyk, visit our fight page.

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