UNDEFEATED WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) will now defend his title against unbeaten contender Gerald Washington (18-0-1, 12 KOs) in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday, February 25, from Legacy Arena at the BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.
The opponent change comes after Wilder’s original foe, Andrzej Wawrzyk, tested positive for a banned substance.
“I’m very happy to get this opportunity to fight for my first world championship,” Washington said. “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.”
Washington, a 34-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who also played tight end and defensive end at the University of Southern California, scored a fourth round knockout over former title challenger Ray Austin in his last fight.
It came on the undercard of the same show in Birmingham where Wilder suffered a torn right biceps muscle and fractured his right hand against Chris Arreola on July 16, 2016. Wilder won on a 9th round TKO, but needed several rounds of surgery to repair the damage and has spent the last six months in rehabilitation.
“I was disappointed when Wawrzyk tested positive for a banned substance and wasn’t available to fight. I didn’t want to disappoint my loyal fans in Birmingham, who have always supported me,” Wilder said.
“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.”
“In this case, losing an opponent has resulted in a much better matchup for fight fans,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “Gerald Washington, one of the highest rated American heavyweights, is a huge man and a physical specimen.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Washington is a tremendous athlete who played football at USC and was on the practice squads of both the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. He’s made a successful transition to boxing, and has been working toward his shot at Deontay Wilder and a heavyweight championship.
This is the challenge that Deontay wanted and those that come out to the Legacy Arena or tune into Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes will be the beneficiaries.”
“Despite the unfortunate circumstances that have allowed Gerald Washington to have this opportunity, I am confident he will be making the most of it,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions, Washington’s promoter.
“Getting to fight a great champion like Deontay Wilder on national television is every fighter’s dream. February 25 will be a great night for American heavyweights. Gerald is in amazing shape and he’s coming to win.”