IN a surprising turn of events, former heavyweight ruler Wladimir Klitschko has been installed as the No 2 challenger for Deontay Wilder’s WBC title.
The WBC recently released their latest set of rankings and, with the 41-year-old not previously ranked in their top 15, he has jumped straight in at No 2 after his dramatic loss to WBA and IBF champion Anthony Joshua last month.
‘Dr Steelhammer’ sits one place behind Bermane Stiverne, who Wilder has been ordered to fight next. Wilder outpointed Stiverne in January 2015 to win the WBC title.
However, Klitschko is unlikely to turn his attention to the outspoken American, who was ringside at Wembley Stadium for his fight with Joshua. Wladimir is currently on holiday and will make a decision on his future in the coming weeks.
According to his manager, Bernd Boente, the two options for Klitschko are retirement or a rematch with Joshua, for which there was a clause in the contracts of their first meeting.
During his near-decade-long reign as unified heavyweight champion, Klitschko never held the WBC title, though his older brother Vitali – who is now bizarrely named ‘Emeritus Champion’ – did.
Wilder was originally set to make a mandatory defence against former Klitschko victim Alexander Povetkin last year, but the Russian failed a drug test and the fight was postponed. Povetkin was then set to fight Stiverne in a final eliminator, only to fail another drug test, which saw him removed from the WBC rankings and Stiverne made No 1 challenger.
Wilder was also considering a fight with former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew, who stormed into the heavyweight division with his win over David Haye. The pair confronted one another during the Joshua-Klitschko fight week. However, Wilder’s mandatory obligations are likely to delay such a fight for now.
Unbeaten Cuban Luis Ortiz sits one place behind Klitschko in the WBC rankings, however he is the No 1 challenger with the WBA and awaits his shot at Joshua.