3 More Rounds

Wilder can’t afford a letdown fight

Photos: Stephanie Trapp / Showtime

Photos: Stephanie Trapp / Showtime

When Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) annexed the WBC heavyweight title from Bermane Stiverne back in January, it was a historic day for American heavyweight boxing, as he became the first U.S.-born fighter to win a piece of the heavyweight crown since 2005.  In that fight, Wilder proved many of his doubters wrong, as he was able to not only go past four rounds, but win a grueling fight by decisionn, which was his first – having won 32 fights, all by knockout.

But while the win was huge for Wilder and the American heavyweight scene, it’s the follow-up fight that will perhaps be as much scrutinized as any of his previous fights.

On June 13, Wilder makes the first defense of his title against Eric Molina, who himself will attempt to become the first Mexican-American to win a heavyweight title in a Showtime-televised card.

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There’s no question that Molina (23-2, 17 KOs) isn’t expected to pose much of a threat to Wilder and on paper, appears to be a pretty big mismatch.  But it’s the threat of a letdown performance that should be on the back of Wilder’s mind, as he is not only making his first title defense, but he is doing it in his own backyard, as he’ll fight in front of friends and family at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.

“This week has been fun. It’s been exciting,” acknowledged Wilder at a media workout this week. “Even to see the people and faces. I’m looking forward to Saturday. It’s always the hard part when you have to wait. Especially when you’ve been training hard and it’s real intense. Everything has been great so far, and I’m glad it’s finally here. I’m looking forward to making history being that this is the first title fight in the state of Alabama. And I’m gonna put my name on it first.”

Wilder seems confident going into the fight, and is a big favorite, as many would expect but whether or not he truly feels Molina is a threat, or is just trying to sell the fight, he can’t be content simply with a ‘W’ but needs to look impressive in the process

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“Molina’s height is something to watch out for. Everybody likes two tall guys in the ring. I’m definitely going to find out if his bark is as big as his bite. Right now his bark is loud. But we’ll see if his bite is as loud as his bark.

“I don’t watch video or study my opponents because the way you may see them fight someone else is not the same way that they’re going to fight you. I let my people do that and break them down. I trust in believe in them, and I like the challenge as well. That’s another reason I don’t look at film. We’ll find out what he’s about on Saturday.”

Ideally we want all of our champions to take on the best that the sport has to offer, but once in a while, it’s only natural that a titlist faces a lower quality opponent for a variety of reasons – a mandatory defense, the need for a gimme after a series of tough fights, or a lack of available foes.  But for Wilder to keep his momentum alive, he’ll have to be dominant.

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