by Matthew N. Becher
Tonight live on Showtime, for the first time ever, Birmingham, Alabama will play host to the heavyweight championship of the world.
In the co-main event, Jose Pedraza (19-0 12KO) will fight for the vacant IBF Jr. Lightweight title against Andrey Klimov (19-1 9KO). Pedraza is an up and coming 26 year old looking to solidify his name with a world title, while Klimov is a slick Russian boxer whose lone loss came to the hands of Terrence Crawford.
While in the main event, Alabama’s own Deontay Wilder (33-0 32KO) will look to make quick work of his competition, Eric Molina (23-2 17KO) , and get his first defense of the WBC heavyweight title out of the way.
Jose Pedraza (19-0 12KO) vs. Andrey Klimov (19-1 9KO): IBF Jr. Lightweight Championship
This fight was over as soon as it started. Both men known for having very tough chins and never being knocked down in their entire amateur or professional careers combined would end up going the distance, in a one sided beating.
Jose Pedraza came out fighting southpaw, which is not usual for him, and immediately threw off Klimov, who had his entire game plan turned around. Klimov was not able to land his usual high volume jab, as Pedraza was able to turn the tables and land many more jabs and clean left hooks out of the southpaw stance.
Pedraza worked combinations to the body and head, while Klimov never found his distance and took a one sided beating throughout the fight.
By the 4th round, Pedraza is moving in and out, using his superior hand speed, foot work and power, developing a small mouse under Klimovs’ eye and punishing Klimovs body.
The start of the second half of the fight, and Pedraza has turned back to an orthodox stance, making the fight more of a toe to to and working the inside. After landing a ten punch body shot combination and head shot, Klimov begins bleeding from the nose.
Pedraza controlled the fight from the beginning to the end. Klimovs face looked like it had been through a meat grinder with two swollen eyes and a broken, bloody nose.
Pedraza becomes the new IBF Jr. Lightweight champion. The 6th Puerto Rican to become a champion in the weight class and the 3rd Puerto Rican to currently hold a world title.
Pedraza UD 12 119-109, 120-108(2x)
Deontay Wilder (33-0 32KO) vs. Eric Molina (23-2 17KO): WBC Heavyweight Championship
The Alabama crowd was electric from the beginning to the end. Wilder came out flicking his jab, showing his superior reach advantage. Molina cannot close distance at the beginning of the fight, but is able to stun wilder with a huge left hand, wobbling the champions legs. Nobody was giving Molina a chance, but he won the third round convincingly.
The 4th round, Wilder seemed to be cautious of Molina after the 3rd round shot, but is able to get Molina focused on the right hand, then he lands a quick left hook, knocking Molina down to the canvas at the end of the round.
Molina becomes second fighter to take Wilder past four rounds and is able to land the occasional head shot and is constantly working the body. The 5th round is when Wilder begins stalking Molina. Wilder lands two knockdowns in the later part of the round, and in both instances Molina turns his back to the champ, and paid for hit with Wilder attacking him while trying to get some breathing room.
The fight showed both men tire, and slow down. Molina landed a good amount of clean body shots that seemed to take some of the power off the very hard punching Wilder. But the end came in the 9th round, when Wilder was able to load up his deadly right hand and knocked out Molina at the 1:03 mark.
Wilder successfully defending his title and gave Molina a lot of praise in the post fight, claiming he made Wilder give everything he had.
Wilder TKO 9 1:03