Wilder defends WBC title with stoppage over Molina on Showtime
Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder successfully defended his WBC heavyweight title for the first time, knocking out Eric Molina in the ninth round in the main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” telecast on Saturday night.
It was a homecoming bout for Wilder, who hails from nearby Tuscaloosa, Ala. and the sold-out crowd at the Bartow Arena on the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus welcomed him with rousing cheers as he was introduced as a world champion for the first time. After a slow start to the fight with both men measuring the distance, the buzz tailed off, especially after a moment in the third round when the unexpected happened.
Molina threw a wild left hook that noticeably wobbled Wilder’s legs after it landed, and the 40-1 underdog began to show flashes of hope as he continued to land shots throughout the remainder of the round. Wilder took the shot well afterward, though getting staggered, but he was certainly weary in a round that gave Molina all the confidence in the world. It wouldn’t last long, however, as Wilder composed himself behind his tree trunk of a jab and landed a left hook to drop Molina with seven seconds remaining in the fourth round.
Molina recovered from the shot in his corner but got a taste of the brutal punching power from the former Olympic heavyweight. Wilder got the crowd back into it and, to their delight, followed it up with a big right hand in the fifth that forced Molina to dangerously turn his back. It was a strange moment for the Texan, who, when hit with the shot, voluntarily dove forward over the ropes, clearly hurt and trying to find a way out. Wilder landed two more shots that forced Molina to the canvas.
After a scolding from referee Jack Reiss for turning his back, Molina did it again seconds later as Wilder was scared him again with big left hooks, eventually dropping him for the second time in the round. Molina barely survived and perhaps Wilder may have punched himself out in that round, as a likely beaten Molina started to regain traction in the eighth. Molina’s quirky style of calculated power shots from strange angles gave Wilder some trouble and, by the end of the eighth, one may have thought Molina was back in the fight. That theory was short-lived when Wilder landed a perfect right hand that knocked Molina out on his feet 63 seconds into the ninth round. Reiss waved off the bout immediately after Molina’s limp body slowly crashed to the floor.
Wilder, 34-0 (33), was a heavy favorite in a homecoming bout that marked the first world title match ever to take place in the state of Alabama. Although he didn’t do it as quickly as everyone had thought he would, Wilder still got the knockout at the end of the day and continues to keep his hype rising. After winning his first voluntary defense of the WBC title, Wilder now has a mandatory opponent up next in Alexander Povetkin. Molina, 23-3 (17), got pummeled by the end of the night but certainly opened some eyes by showing up to win rather than just be another opponent that rolled over.
In the co-feature of the Showtime broadcast, a new world titleholder was crowned as Jose Pedraza dominated Andrey Klimov for 12 rounds to earn a wide unanimous decision (120-108 twice, 119-109) and the vacant IBF junior lightweight belt.
Upon the sounding of the opening bell, it was apparent that Pedraza had the quicker hands of the two men in the ring. By the end of the fight, it was painfully obvious. Pedraza worked Klimov’s body for most of the night and, with this strategy, he began his onslaught from a southpaw stance. With the early tactic, Pedraza opened Klimov’s guard upstairs and in the middle rounds. By the end of the fifth, swelling under Klimov’s left eye was apparent.
Pedraza switched to the orthodox stance to kick off the sixth and because of the change, Klimov lent his best punches of the night. It produced the closest round of the fight but Klimov couldn’t elude any of Pedraza’s accurate attack. In the later rounds, the early work to the body started to take effect on Klimov and he began plodding his punches, making it easy for Pedraza to step forward and pepper the Russian without any worry of retaliation. This continued until the end of the fight and it wasn’t much of one in the championship rounds.
Pedraza, 26, 20-0 (12), wins a world title in his first opportunity, looking great in this performance and has been in his fights leading up to this one. Klimov, 19-2 (9), gets blanked for the second time in his career since losing to Terence Crawford in 2013.
On SHO Extreme, Philadelphia junior middleweight prospect, Julian “J Rock” Williams dominated Arman Ovsepyan for six rounds until referee Jeff Dodson had seen enough. Williams, 20-0-1 (12), couldn’t miss with his power right hand and it wobbled Ovsepyan early in the first round, effectively forcing the Armenian into survival mode for its remainder. After barely surviving the opening round, Ovsepyan, 14-5 (11), regained his legs but didn’t have an answer for Williams’ attack. In the sixth, Ovsepyan was clearly hurt on his feet again and, after getting beat up considerably in the prior five rounds, Dodson rightfully stopped the contest after Williams kept connecting to the head.
Dejan Zlaticanin upset Ivan Redkach via fourth round stoppage in a match-up of two lightweights with future world title shot implications. Fighting out of Montenegro, Zlaticanin, 21-0 (14), made up for his disadvantage in height with effective aggression and that compensation showed from the the opening bell. Attacking Redkach’s body was key, forcing the Ukrainian to helplessly shell up early. It wasn’t until the third round when Redkach used his jab to ward off his pressing opponent but it wasn’t enough to thwart him for good. Zlaticanin timed a perfect left hook that caught Redkach in a moment when he was trying to deliver the same punch. It dropped him instantly and after Redkach withstood the count, he was doomed as Dejan forced him into a corner, throwing everything he had. Redkach, 18-1 (14), was still hurt from the knockdown and ,after a few seconds of not throwing anything back at a relentless Zlaticanin, referee Jim Korb had seen enough. Redkach didn’t go down but basically sat on the ropes when the stoppage occurred at 84 seconds.
Egyptian light heavyweight Ahmed Elbiali, 11-0 (10), knocked Donta Woods out a minute into the first round. After hurting him early with an uppercut, Elbiali couldn’t miss a flailing Woods, who was easily forced into a corner. There, Elbiali landed consecutive overhand rights, dropping him. Woods, 8-5 (7), was done and didn’t try to convince anyone that he wanted to get up. Referee Flynn Gerald noticed and, in the middle of his 10-count, waved off the contest.