Deontay Wilder is 32-0. | Photo: Showtime Sports
Deontay Wilder is a terrific boxer with crushing knockout power and he’s a charismatic guy. He also possesses the WBC version of the heavyweight championship and he’s undefeated as a professional. However, he remains one of American sports’ best-kept secrets.
A month from now, he hopes to change that.
On June 13 in his home state of Alabama, “The Bronze Bomber” is slated to make the first defense of his title when he faces battle-tested veteran Eric Molina. The bout will headline a card televised by Showtime and will be held inside the Bartow Arena in downtown Birmingham.
Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) captured the belt this past January when he outpointed then-titlist Bermane Stiverne over 12 rounds at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Though the knockout artist went the distance for the first time in his career, Wilder never looked flustered as he boxed beautifully en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.
Standing in his way is Molina, a tough Texan with a solid overall game. Since being knocked out by Chris Arreola in the first round over three ago, “Drummer Boy” has reeled off five consecutive wins, three by knockout. While he is a heavy betting underdog entering the contest, Molina is confident that he’ll pull off the upset.
“Winning the heavyweight world championship is my dream,” Molina said in a statement announcing the showdown. “Just as it was Deontay’s dream, it’s mine now. He had his turn, though it will be short-lived. I will become the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion. Guaranteed. I’m coming to kick some ass.”
Wilder became the first American-born heavyweight to capture a world title since Shannon Briggs back in 2006 when he stopped Siarhei Liakhovich in the 12th round and the first undefeated American heavyweight to do since Michael Moorer, who won the title in 1994 when he edged Evander Holyfield via decision.
For Wilder, it was a dream come true, but his dream is just beginning.
“It was one of my dreams to win a world title,” Wilder said. “This was my other dream to be able to defend it before all my fans in Alabama. I can't wait until fight night to step into the ring and see the whole state coming out to support me. It's a wonderful feeling to be able to defend my heavyweight championship in my home state. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
The chief support bout on Showtime is scheduled to be a scrap between unbeaten Puerto Rican Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (19-0, 12 KOs) and Russian Andrey Klimov (19-1, 9 KOs) for the vacant IBF junior lightweight championship.