WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has praised Chris Arreola for having the courage to face him on July 16.
Wilder (36-0, 35KOs) had been due to make the fourth defence of his belt against mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin on May 21 in Moscow, only for the Russian to fail a drugs test.
The likes of Bryant Jennings, Kubrat Pulev, Bermane Stiverne and Gerald Washington were all contenders to step in, but it was 35-year-old Arreola (36-4-1, 31KOs) who got the nod to face the champion in his home state of Alabama.
The Californian has twice fought for a world title in his career, losing to Vitali Klitschko (Rtd 10) back in 2009 and Bermane Stiverne (TKO 6) in 2014, but Wilder is expecting a tough test in what will be his first contest since stopping Artur Szpilka in the ninth round back in January.
"People said Arreola doesn't deserve the shot, but who are they to say things about a man who every time he gets in the ring he fights with his heart," said Wilder, who is once more being linked with a unification fight against Britain's IBF belt holder Anthony Joshua.
"I feel like this is a special occasion. It's a short notice fight. A lot of guys said they would take it, but used the short notice as an excuse. It takes a lot to put together a fight. But when you can get someone who can make the best of this and put on a great show, it's a job well done.
"There's only one name who can make this be what it is. Every time he steps in the ring, he comes to fight. I think we chose the right person.
"This is going to be an exciting fight for everyone. It's two dangerous heavyweights. Two guys who fight with their hearts. It's going to be an action-packed fight from beginning to end.
"This was my longest layoff. I've wanted to be an active champion since I won the belt. When one door closes, another one opens.
"It's up to Chris to take advantage of this opportunity. He has his own history that he can make and it will mean a lot to him.
"My mentality is to go all out. Everything I say, I really believe. I don't need anyone to believe in me, because I believe in myself.
"I have a guy in front of me who's trying to stop me from getting to the next level. I promise this is going to be an outstanding fight."
Arreola's last fight was against Travis Kauffman in December which he won on the points, only for the bout to be declared a no decision after he tested positive for marijuana which earned him a 90-day suspension.
It was the second time he had tested positive for the drug after having a win over Friday Ahunanya overturned in 2011 and he admits he is grateful to be given another chance.
"I'm grateful for this opportunity. A lot of people say that I don't deserve this title fight," he said.
"But a lot of people said Deontay didn't deserve his title shot. I said that. But when he got it, he made the most out of it. He beat the guy who beat me [Stiverne].
"He's defended his title and done everything you're supposed to do as a champion. I respect him a lot. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.