ALEXANDER POVETKIN will fight former WBC world heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne in Russia on December 17.

The pair will fight for WBC ‘interim’ title, which is up for grabs while full champion Wilder – who dethroned Stiverne – recovers from injury.

The WBC ordered their top two contenders, Povetkin and Stiverne, to fight for the title and Andrey Ryabinsky won the purse bid and will stage the clash in Povetkin’s native Russia, though a venue has not yet been announced.

Neither man has fought since November 2015, when Povetkin hammered Mariusz Wach and Stiverne had to climb off the deck to outpoint journeyman Derric Rossy.

Povetkin was set to fight Wilder earlier in the year but the fight was pulled at the last minute when the challenger failed a drug test. He appealed the findings and avoided suspension due to the small amount of meldonium in his system.

As part of their Clean Boxing Program, the WBC have mandated that the fight include VADA testing.

Prior to his failed drug test, Povetkin was widely considered as one of the best heavyweights around, having only lost to Wladimir Klitschko, and he has entered as a signifcant favourite over Stiverne. The Povetkin-Stiverne winner will then be in line to challenge Wilder upon his return to the ring.