Heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder, who is coming off right hand and biceps surgery, will defend his crown against Andrzej Wawrzyk on Feb. 25, Premier Boxing Champions announced on Wednesday.
The fight will take place at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, not far from Wilder's hometown of Tuscaloosa, and be televised on Fox in prime time (8 p.m. ET).
Wilder, who will be making his fifth title defense, will be fighting at Legacy Arena for the third time in his last four fights. In July, Wilder knocked out Chris Arreola to retain the title but broke his right hand and tore his right biceps in the bout. Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs), 31, had subsequent surgery for both injuries and was sidelined for the rest of the year.
"I'm excited about defending my world championship for a fifth time and in front of my great fans at Legacy Arena in Birmingham," 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."
Promoter Lou DiBella, who has been handling Wilder's recent fights, said Wilder is ready to go following the surgeries.
"We are thrilled that Deontay's two surgeries went so well and that he rehabbed like the champ he is," DiBella said. "As a result, he will be able to fight on Feb. 25 in another defense of his WBC heavyweight championship against rugged Polish contender Andrzej Wawrzyk. We are not looking past Wawrzyk, but we believe we will find out that Deontay is back to full strength and ready for an active 2017, with major matchups ahead. We are happy to return to Deontay's fighting home base of Birmingham, Alabama."
Wilder is hoping to take care of Wawrzyk, show that his arm and hand are sound and move on to a world title unification fight later in 2017. Wilder told ESPN in an interview in Los Angeles earlier this month that he wants to fight the winner of the April 29 showdown between titleholder Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) and former longtime world champion Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 54 KOs).
"If Joshua prevails against Klitschko it will be Deontay Wilder versus Anthony Joshua. There's no other fight," Wilder said. "I've been talking about unifying the division for a long time. If he fights and wins we want that fight quickly. We been waiting for too long now. We don't want to keep the people waiting. There is no bigger fight than Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.
"If Anthony Joshua prevails against Klitschko and we fight you got two undefeated big guys with power and you got (three) titles on the line. How big can it get? If Klitschko beats Joshua the next big thing is Klitschko versus Wilder. If Joshua beats Klitschko the next big thing is Joshua versus Wilder. Either one. I am ready. I really believe I am the best in the world."
The 31-year-old Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs), who will be fighting in the United States for the third time, is a dubious title challenger with no significant wins, although he has won six bouts in a row since suffering his lone loss, a third-round knockout to Alexander Povetkin in 2013 in a world title bout in Moscow.
In September 2015, Wawrzyk fought at Legacy Arena, knocking out journeyman Mike Sheppard in the third round on the undercard of Wilder's defense against Johann Duhaupas.
"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 Feb. 25 I will step into the ring ready to fight and win against the most dangerous man on the planet."
Said Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, who represents Wawrzyk: "We are very excited that Andrzej Wawrzyk is getting the opportunity to challenge Deontay Wilder for the world title. This opportunity is a feather in his cap, and with a victory he will make history and become the first heavyweight champion from Poland. I expect Andrzej to make the most of this opportunity."