The WBC on Monday ordered heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson to make mandatory defenses, both of which could scuttle plans they have for other bouts.
Two days after Wilder retained his title by fifth-round knockout of Gerald Washington on Saturday night in Birmingham, Alabama, the WBC ordered him to next defend against former titleholder Bermane Stiverne.
Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) easily outpointed Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KOs) in January 2015 to claim the belt and has made five title defenses, but he has not made a mandatory defense. However, that is not for a lack of trying.
Wilder signed to face then-mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin last May in Moscow, but Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium and the fight was canceled just nine days beforehand. That left Wilder without a mandatory challenger.
The WBC hoped to have Wilder eventually face the winner of a vacant interim title bout between Stiverne and Povetkin that was scheduled for Dec. 17 in Ekaterinburg, Russia, but Povetkin again tested positive for a banned substance, this time ostarine, and the WBC pulled the sanction from the fight.
On Monday, it made the decision to just give Stiverne the mandatory title shot without having him box in an interim title bout or a final elimination fight. It was a surprising decision considering that Stiverne has fought just once in the two years since losing the belt to Wilder, and that was a struggle. He won a close decision in November 2015 against journeyman Derric Rossy, a big underdog, who knocked him down.
Stiverne also failed a drug test, testing positive before the canceled Povetkin fight for the banned stimulant DMAA, but the WBC allowed Stiverne to remain in the fight.
A Wilder-Stiverne bout could get in the way of Wilder's goal -- a unification fight with fellow titleholder Joseph Parker in the late summer or early fall, as long as Parker (22-0, 18 KOs) retains his belt against his mandatory challenger, Hughie Fury, on May 6 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Parker and his team are also gung-ho for a showdown with Wilder. Parker even made the trip to Birmingham to watch Wilder-Washington from ringside. But if the WBC insists on the Stiverne fight, it could rob Wilder and Parker of a big fight and fans of a highly significant bout.
Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs) was ordered to face Eleider Alvarez (22-0, 11 KOs), who has been his mandatory challenger since a majority decision win against Isaac Chilemba in an elimination fight in November 2015.
However, for a variety of reasons, the bout between the Montreal-based fighters has not happened. But now the WBC is insisting that it be next. The order came after Alvarez preserved his position by knocking out Montreal star and former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute in the fifth round on Friday night in Quebec City.
The WBC said that if Stevenson and Alvarez, who both are promoted by Yvon Michel (which should make negotiations easier than if they were with different promoters), do not reach an agreement the fight will be put up for a purse bid on March 24 at WBC headquarters in Mexico City.
Stevenson, who has made seven defenses but no mandatory defense since knocking out Tony Bellew in the sixth round in November 2013, and Michel, however, are already far down the road on a deal with promoter Lou DiBella for Stevenson to defend the 175-pound belt against Seanie Monaghan (28-0, 17 KOs). Monaghan is working with DiBella in the wake of his promotional contract with Top Rank recently expiring.
The plan is for the fight to take place on April 29 in the main event of the first boxing card since the mid-1980s at the newly renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale on New York's Long Island, where Monaghan is from and enjoys a big fan base.