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Deontay Wilder turned down a title shot at bridgerweight with the WBC to focus on his heavyweight return.
The 'Bronze Bomber' made a successful return to the ring in October when he poleaxed Robert Helenius within one round in a brutal KO to return in style after taking time away from the sport. Wilder considered retirement after his second consecutive defeat to Tyson Fury, but is now chasing a title shot after maintaining his No.1 contender status with the WBC.
It is expected that his first outing this year will be a WBC heavyweight world title eliminator with Andy Ruiz Jr and the winner will be mandated to a shot at Fury's crown. However according to World Boxing News, Wilder turned down a shot at the bridgerweight world title created by the WBC to focus on his pursuit of a fourth fight against Fury.
Wilder has previously suggested he wants to win the world title at cruiserweight, where several blue-riband division stars have graduated from including Oleksandr Usyk. However the new division created by the organisation does not seem appealing to the American, with Alen Babic instead ordered to fight for the title.
The WBC issued a statement, which read: "The WBC regrets the injury to Oscar Rivas. He suffered a detached retina in December and will not be able to fight his contracted bout with Lukasz Rozanski. Consequently, the WBC has placed Oscar Rivas as champion in recess. That’s until he confirms his decision about his future.
“The WBC Board of Governors has voted in favor of the following resolution to address the status of the bridgerweight division immediately. The WBC has ordered number one [rated] Alen Babic vs number three Lukasz Rozanski to fight for the vacant title with a 50-50 split. The winner will be committed to complying with two [future] mandatories."
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It would be sensible for Wilder to remain at heavyweight with some huge fights potentially on the horizon, including offered clashes with Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua. The big money clash could be against Joshua who has included his rival in his three-fight plan for 2023.
And Wilder's trainer Malik Scott has suggested Joshua would not be mentally tough enough to get a positive result against the 37-year-old. "If it was up to me, Wilder would fight Anthony Joshua next," Scott told Kate Abdo on her podcast The Good Fight. "The mental strength right now may not be there because he lost two times to a smaller guy.
"So, to go against that specimen called Deontay Wilder, you may need to build yourself up to take on that kind of fight, and I get it. But the advantages and the things I see Deontay doing to whatever AJ shows up – mentally tough, not mentally tough – it’s a three-round fight in my opinion. He can’t get out the way."