By: Matthew N. Becher
Official Weights: Deontay Wilder 229 lbs vs Eric Molina 239¼ lbs
This weekend from the Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, history will be made. The first ever world championship boxing event will be held in the state. This is not only for any old championship trinket neither. This will be for the WBC heavyweight title and the man defending it just also happens to be a son of Alabama.
Deontay Wilder (33-0 32 KO) is one of the rising stars in the boxing world. Taking up the sport late in life, he has already exceeded what many fighters ever dream of. An Olympic medalist, whose professional career could not have started out any better. He won his first 32 fights all by knockout and all within the first four rounds. His first title shot last year against Bermane Stiverne, was the first time that Wilder ever looked tested, and he showed not only that he could box, but that he could take a punch and last an entire 12 rounds.
On Saturday, Wilder will be defending his WBC title for the first time against Eric Molina (23-2 17KO). Molina is a relatively unknown fighter, who has had one fight against any heavyweight of substance, he fought and was knocked out in one round by Chris Arreola in 2012.
Wilder will be using this fight as a showcase for his hometown fans. A fight that the WBC allowed Wilder to take, before he will need to face against his mandatory challenger, Russia’s Alexander Povetkin.
This is a great opportunity for the young, talented American heavyweight champion to work on some things in the ring, and to further broaden his fan base, since he expects to be the next face of boxing after Floyd Mayweather retires. And Showtime is a great place to do so. Expect a show with lots of heavy punches and for the “Bronze Bomber” Wilder to show the fans, why he is the leader of his self-proclaimed “Bomb Squad”.
The Undercard will also include a title fight for the IBF Jr. Lightweight championship with Jose Pedraza (19-0 12KO) taking on Andrey Klimov (19-1 9KO). As well as all the other undercard fights being broadcast live on Showtime’s smaller cable network Showtime Extreme earlier in the day.
The following are quotes from the press conference:
Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder
“This week has been fun. It’s been exciting. Even to see the people and faces. I’m looking forward to Saturday. It’s always the hard part when you have to wait. Especially when you’ve been training hard and it’s real intense. Everything has been great so far, and I’m glad it’s finally here. I’m looking forward to making history being that this is the first title fight in the state of Alabama. And I’m gonna put my name on it first.
“Training camp has been just like any other camp. When I’m at camp, I’m always giving my all, 110 percent. Because when it’s time to go battle, I gotta give 110 percent. I have to perform better than I did the last time. But this is what I do. I love it and enjoy every moment it.
“Molina’s height is something to watch out for. Everybody likes two tall guys in the ring. I’m definitely going to find out if his bark is as big as his bite. Right now his bark is loud. But we’ll see if his bite is as loud as his bark.
“I don’t watch video or study my opponents because the way you may see them fight someone else is not the same way that they’re going to fight you. I let my people do that and break them down. I trust in believe in them, and I like the challenge as well. That’s another reason I don’t look at film. We’ll find out what he’s about on Saturday.”
Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina
“Deontay is a very strong fighter, a big puncher and a big presence. But just as many strengths as he has, he also has weaknesses. We’re just trying to key in on those weaknesses.
“I know this is a big fight for Alabama. I respect that and it’s an honor, but I’m also trying to make history. I plan on being the first Mexican-American Heavyweight World Champion.
“My mental focus is on the heavyweight world title. When you expect to fight for the world title, you have to come into someone’s backyard and do what you have to put up with pressure. I can handle pressure.
“I’ve accepted my role as the underdog. The whole world has written me off. I’ve embraced the role. I’m used to motivating myself. I’ve never been stronger, more focused. I’ve never been more physically, mentally, spiritually strong. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to fight.
“This is two big guys in the ring, and I can punch just like he can punch. It’s going to be a very exciting fight.”
Photos: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME