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WBC orders Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin to begin negotiations

No more of these voluntary defenses against hand-picked opponents, Deontay Wilder now has to face his mandatory challenger in Alexander Povetkin.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Alexander Povetkin is on deck on WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Last night WBC president Mauricio Suliaman sent official notice to Lou DiBella (who "officially" promotes Wilder) and Andrey Riabinsky of World of Boxing, declaring a free negotiation period for Wilder-Povetkin. If the two sides can't come to an agreement, there will be a purse bid scheduled for Feb. 26 at WBC headquarters.

Since winning his world title against Bermane Stiverne this time last year, Wilder went on to make a number of voluntary defenses against Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas, and most recently Artur Szpilka. Wilder has received a lot of criticism for this level of opposition coming from a world titleholder, but it's something that's becoming increasingly common, unfortunately.

But Wilder says he's fully ready and capable of taking on Povetkin, who is most probably the best opponent Wilder has ever seen in his career.

"I'm super confident in that fight," Wilder said after knocking out Szpilka. "I've been waiting for Povetkin for a very long time, and I'm looking forward to him. I'm glad he was here to take notes. We all know styles make fights. I am very comfortable with him."

DiBella says he's already been in contact with Riabinsky and that he's willing to let the fight take place in the United States. The fight is expected to take place sometime between May and July, and most likely to be aired on Showtime.

"I've been to Russia [to fight as an amateur]. It's time to bring him to the United States," Wilder said of Povetkin. "We all know to have that big name you must get the American fans on your side. I'm looking forward to getting him out of his zone and to have him come to America. It's too cold in Russia."

That idea also seems perfectly fine with Povetkin, who loves the idea of facing Wilder in New York.

"I always want to box the best, and it doesn't matter which country, Russia or USA. It doesn't matter to me," said Povetkin.

What will matter is how Povetkin implements his plans to overcome the significant height difference between he and Wilder. Povetkin stands at 6'2" while Wilder stands at 6'7, making him a tall order for Povetkin (both literally and figuratively).

"It's going to be very difficult and uncomfortable, but we will use the right tactics and will get inside," Povetkin said. "He is a good strong fighter with a very strong punch. I'm focused on the fight happening and getting ready for it."

Who you got your money on, fans?

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