WBC heavyweight champion Deontay WIlder has been given the opportunity to make an optional title defense as the sanctioning body continues to look into the circumstances surrounding Alexander Povetkin's failed drug test. Wilder was scheduled to face Povetkin, his mandatory challenger, this past Saturday in Moscow, but the fight was "postponed" when Povetkin tested positive for meldonium a week before the fight.
"In relation to challenger Povetkin's test result, the WBC is conducting an in-depth investigation and evaluation of the situation. Further WBC rulings will be forthcoming," WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said in a statement. "In the meantime, the WBC hereby rules that in light of the fact that the bout with challenger Povetkin did not take place as scheduled, WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder has the right to make a voluntary defense of his title as reasonably soon as possible."
Wilder reportedly does not want to waste his training camp and would like to get back in the ring as soon as possible. But in order for that to happen, promoter Lou DiBella (or more likely Al Haymon) has to find him a suitable replacement, as well as a spot on television. According to DiBella, though, it's a fair assumption that WIlder will fight sometime this summer. DiBella also comments on being pleased with the WBC's ruling thus far.
"The WBC did the right thing. I'm pleased and gratified that they did the right thing. I think the WBC is stepping up with their clean boxing program. The WBC has to review everything, but they did the right thing not to handcuff their champion. Deontay wants to fight as often as possible. He has always said he wanted to be an active champion, so it was not an option for him to sit out a long time when this fight fell through. So we want to get something done as soon as possible."
Who might Wilder take on in a voluntary defense? It's sort of hard to speculate at this stage of the game, but it likely won't be the stringent test that Povetkin was thought to be.