3 More Rounds

Wilder stops Molina to retain title

Photos: Stephanie Trapp / Showtime

Photos: Stephanie Trapp / Showtime

In front of a raucous crowd in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, Deontay Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs) scored a ninth round stoppage over Eric Molina (23-3, 17 KOs) to retain his WBC heavyweight title on Saturday night.

Wilder, fighting in front of 9,347 fans, was rocked early in the fight by a Molina left hook, but quickly recovered and dropped Molina in the fourth round with a left hook of his own. In the fifth, Wilder put Molina down twice, as the fight was close to being waved off, though referee Jack Reiss warned Molina not to turn his back during the fight.

With Wilder in complete control, he once again took the fight to Molina and a right hand hurt Molina badly, putting him down again, which prompted Jack Reiss to finally call it off.

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“I was surprised by Molina, he showed tremendous heart,” said Wilder afterward. “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.”

“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.” 

Earlier in the night, Jose Pedraza (20-0, 12 KOs) earned a lopsided decision win over Andrey Klimov (20-1, 9 KOs) to win the vacant IBF junior lightweight title with scores of 120-108 twice and 119-109.

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Pedraza used his quicker hands to land combinations and work to the body, while Klimov was forced to fight on the outside.

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

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