Undefeated heavyweight world champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) will defend his title in his home state for the fourth time, as he faces unbeaten contender Gerald “El Gallo Negro” 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.
Televised coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will feature the only American heavyweight world champion headlining his third primetime show on network television, after Wilder most recently stopped Chris Arreola after eight-rounds of action on FOX in July. The champion suffered hand and bicep injuries during the fight, but returns on February 25 fully healthy.
“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,” said Wilder. “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.”
“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.’’
“The city of Birmingham is beyond excited to have Deontay return to defend his title,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “He has become a great ambassador for our community and we can’t wait to see him compete once again.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Warriors Boxing in association with Bruno Event Team, start at $25 (not including applicable fees) and are on sale Thursday, December 29. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and by visiting AlabamaTitleFight.com. Fans can purchase the “New Year’s Package” through Monday, January 2 and receive two Upper Level Tickets for $35.
“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.”
“We are excited to work with DiBella Entertainment to bring the fourth heavyweight boxing championship to the state of Alabama,” said Gene Hallman, president and CEO of Bruno Event Team, a leader in delivering event excellence. “Deontay Wilder always puts on a great show and we encourage Alabama boxing fans to show their support for the Bronze Bomber.”
The heavyweight champion from Tuscaloosa is itching to get back in the ring after defending his title four times thus far with stoppages of Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, Artur Szpilka and most recently Arreola. Before turning pro in November 2008, Wilder won the bronze medal at heavyweight for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games. He was the last American male boxer to medal in the Olympics until Shakur Stevenson and Nico Hernandez earned medals at the Rio 2016 games.
The 31-year-old won the world title with a dominant decision over Bermane Stiverne in January 2015. This fight will mark the ninth time Wilder fights in his home state of Alabama as a pro. Fighting out of Krakow, Poland, Wawrzyk has won six fights in a row, all inside the distance, since his lone defeat to Alexander Povetkin in 2013. The 29-year-old was unbeaten in his first 27 fights after turning pro in 2006. Wawrzyk owns victories over Frans Botha, Danny Williams, Denis Bakhtov and Devin Vargas.
He has won both of his previous starts in the United States, including a knockout of Mike Sheppard in September 2015 on a Wilder undercard at Legacy Arena. 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.
Washington calls himself “El Gallo Negro” (The Black Rooster) to honor his African-American father and Mexican-American mother. He turned pro in July 2012, following a brief amateur career. He has risen steadily in the ranks after each fight and is now poised to take on the biggest challenge of his professional career. If he defeats Wilder, he will become the first Mexican-American heavyweight world champion.