WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs) signed off his first defence with a one punch blockbuster victory, on home turf at the Bartow Arena, Birmingham Alabama, to blast out brave, durable, and sometimes dangerous Eric Molina (23-3, 17 KOs). While Wilder was chiseled and lean, with well defined muscle tone, Molina in comparison, appeared tubby and slow moving. He however showed quickness of reaction to catch and surprise Wilder with a hard and well placed right uppercut, moments before the bell to end the first round.
Wilder dominated the action keeping Molina at bay with a drilling left jab, but then started tentatively pawing, and got caught with a big right hook and then a bigger left hook to the head close to the bell ending the third. It was a pertinent wake up call for the “Bronze Bomber” who felled Molina with a massive and well timed left hook in the next round. Then in the fifth Molina was dropped hard twice.
The first was a massive right hand, and then a hurtful flurry to add to the shellshock, had him down again. He showed great courage to survive that sustained onslaught. Referee Jack Reiss went to the corner to warn Molina about turning away, showing his back, when barrages of blows came his way.
It was then a question of how long Molina could dodge or absorb increasing incoming flak to survive. The end came at one minute three seconds of round nine. Wilder shifted his feet and gave himself room to graze Molina with a glancing left, but the right hit home on the side of his face with full force, and down he went. It was a massive crumpling punch, which stretched out Molina and this time reprieve via resistance and recovery was utterly impossible.
Referee Jack Reiss was in no doubt whatsoever. He immediately stopped the fight, and thankfully, Molina quickly recovered his senses and faculties following on from the absolute stunner. Wilder, 29, was defending the belt he won from Haitian-born, Canada-resident Bermane Stiverne. The Alabama native says: ‘This is what it’s all about. This is the first of many title fights in Alabama.’
Of Texas-born Molina, he added: ‘To be honest, I was definitely surprised. It does my heart so good even standing in front of him right now to say that this guy has heart. All the critics doubted him, all the naysayers said he wouldn’t last, but I’m so proud of him. What I needed was a tough guy. I needed a guy that had heart. I needed a guy that was going to get dropped but kept coming back and was still fighting.’