Deontay Wilder successfully defends heavyweight belt with spectacular performance

June 14, 2015

Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs) put on an exciting show before an enthusiastic packed house of 9,347 attending the first title fight in the history of the state of Alabama, as he defeated a game Eric Molina (23-3, 17 KOs) via a ninth round knockout Saturday night to successfully defend his WBC belt.  The bout was held at Bartow Arena on the campus of University of Alabama Birmingham.

Wilder, who was born and still resides in Tuscaloosa just 60 miles down the road, dropped Molina four times during the fight, the final conclusive knockdown arriving courtesy of a straight right hand at the 63 second mark of the ninth round that prompted referee Jack Reiss to call off the fight.

Despite the multiple knockdowns, Molina continued to compete throughout the bout, at one time stunning Wilder early in the bout.

“I was surprised by Molina, he showed tremendous heart,” said Wilder.  “All the critics doubted him, but he showed that he was a very tough challenger. I needed a tough guy who had heart and who could get dropped and still come back up.”

Wilder knocked down Molina once in the fourth round with a left hook, and twice more in the fifth round with his deadly right hand.

Although not the outcome he had hoped for, Molina was grateful for the opportunity. “I gave it everything I had,” a dejected Molina said. “It wasn’t the result I wanted, but what can I do. It was my dream to fight for the title. Wilder is a great fighter and I want him to be great.”

Overall, the event was exciting enough to prompt future Wilder bouts in a state hungry for professional sports entertainment.

“I thought this fight produced three winners," said boxing analyst Steve Farhood.  "Deontay Wilder, the state of Alabama and believe it or not, Eric Molina. Expectations were low for Molina, but he is going to get more offers based off this fight. He presented a reasonable challenge and fought with a lot of heart. The crowd was fantastic and I think that everyone would like to see Deontay Wilder fight here again.”

The Undercard

In the undercard, Puerto Rico's Jose Pedraza (20-0, 12 KOs) dominated Andrey Klimov (20-1, 9 KOs) from the opening bell to claim the vacant IBF Junior Lightweight Title with an impressive unanimous decision victory.

Pedraza won by the scores of 120-108 twice and 119-109.

“I was very happy because I have sacrificed my life for the last 14 years to become a world champion,” Pedraza said. “It wasn’t easy but it’s a dream come true, a dream every fighter thinks about to become a world champion.”

From the opening bell, Pedraza used his superior hand speed, combination punching, and body jabs to create distance. Pedraza landed 50 percent of his power shots compared to a 26 percent rate by Klimov.

After the fight, Klimov revealed why he was covered in blood for most of the night. “On the very first punch of the fight, Pedraza broke my nose and from that point forward I was playing catch up,” he said. “My ability in the ring was hindered because of my nose, as it kept on swelling.”

Although the nose was a factor in the fight, a battered Klimov made no excuses. “Pedraza did an exceptional job, he is a really good, fast fighter.”

By Staff of and news services

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