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BIRMINGHAM BATTLE: Wilder set to defend world heavyweight title in the Magic City

Deontay Wilder will defend his WBC heavyweight title this weekend in a Birmingham bout with <a href=
Chris Arreola. (Nik Layman/Alabama NewsCenter)” width=”820″ height=”461″ class=”size-full wp-image-32537″ /> Deontay Wilder will defend his WBC heavyweight title this weekend in a Birmingham bout with Chris Arreola. (Nik Layman/Alabama NewsCenter)

Undefeated WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder will take on veteran boxer Chris Arreola on July 16 in Birmingham’s Legacy Arena.

The event comes on the heels of a cancellation of Wilder’s last bout, which was scheduled for May 21 in Russia, when challenger Alexander Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium.

Wilder and promoter DiBella Entertainment have filed a $5 million lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New York against Povetkin and his promoter, alleging breach of contract.

“I’ve got served papers and everything,” Wilder said on the pre-fight media call. “I’m not letting it knock me off my game, my focus. It’s just part of life, you know what I mean. I’ve been through worse situations in life. It’s just a bad storm – another storm that I have to weather in my life.”

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Wilder (36-0) has knocked out his past three opponents since wresting the belt from Bermane Stiverne in January 2015. The fight will be the Tuscaloosa native’s second in the Legacy Arena, where he retained the belt after taking out Johann Duhaupas in the 11th round last September.

Wilder has brought much attention to Alabama upon his rise in pugilism. The state is known for college football, but Wilder and trainer Jay Deas have put Alabama on the map in combat sports, and his thunderous roar of “Bomb Squad” can be heard from the confines of the quaint Skyy Gym to homes across the world.

Arreola is a former champion who has sought the WBC World heavyweight belt for a long time, losing to Stiverne for the then-vacant WBC World heavyweight belt in 2014. His first time competing for the prized heavyweight belt was in 2009, when his corner stepped in to stop the fight against then-champion Vitali Klitchko.

“Klitschko clobbered me with jabs left and right. I believe he threw the most punches he had thrown in his career against me,” said Arreola on the pre-fight media call.

“I just got to be a lot smarter and more athletic, because Deontay is a more athletic fighter than Klitschko is, and he moves a whole lot better around the ring.”

Anti-doping program

To combat the potential for unfair play, both Wilder and Arreola have enrolled with the world-renowned Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) to conduct the anti-doping program.

This marks the second straight training camp in which Wilder has enrolled with VADA. VADA testing, in accordance with the WBC Clean Boxing Program, was in place for Wilder’s scheduled defense versus Povetkin. Wilder has also submitted paperwork to VADA and the WBC to participate in year-round anti-doping testing that is expected to commence later this summer.

With British heavyweight sensation and IBF Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua now heating up the ranks, this fight is another stepping stone for Wilder to get to the bigger stage of his career.

Many feel Arreola is not relevant for the title shot, with his last win, a majority decision over Travis Kauffman, having been turned into a no-decision for testing positive for marijuana last December. Arreola fought Fred Kassi to a draw in the fight before that in July 2015.

“Of course, people say who deserves this or who’s supposed to deserve that,” Wilder said. “But who are people to say who deserved anything?

“Sometimes chances come around more than twice, and this is his third time. I don’t believe in luck, but he’s been blessed with a third opportunity,” Wilder said. “If I was him, I would take it very seriously.”

Often criticized for not having top-tier talent to fight, matches are beginning to materialize that will bring the spotlight back to the heavyweight division as it is now in the welterweight and middleweight division.

Arreola, in boxing terminology, is no soft touch. The event, which is a Premier Boxing Champions card live on FOX network television, looks to open many eyes to both Wilder and the resurgence in heavyweight boxing action.

Rhett Butler, a former fight promoter and owner of Fight Services, has been a freelance staff writer and reporter for several publications, including TIME, Jet, Money, BRE, UFC 360, UFC.com and Fight!

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