Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder successfully defended his WBC title by stopping Texan Eric Molina on Saturday in front of a home crowd in Birmingham, Alabama.
The end came at 1’03’ of the ninth round, courtesy of a tremendous right hand from the Bronze Bomber which left Molina flat on his back and looking up at the lights. Molina had been down three times earlier in the fight, once in the third round and twice in the fourth.
But it was Molina who impressed by giving Wilder, in what was expected to be a one-round knockout showcase for the champ, one of the biggest challenges to his unblemished record.
“I definitely was surprised,” Wilder told Showtime’s Jim Grey regarding Molina’s resilience. “And it does my heart so good even to stand here in front of him, right now to say, man, this guy’s got heart. All the critics doubted him. All the naysayers said he wasn’t gonna be able to last. But I’m so proud of him. He’s got my support.”
Molina came into the fight with the right blueprint for victory, spoiling Wilder’s tempo with bull charges and looking to counter the Bomber’s feared right hand. But Molina’s lack of punch output and activity, and his inability to capitalize on his few successes put Wilder in the driver’s seat and the champ controlled the fight with an educated jab from start to finish.
“We like to think in the ring,” Wilder said. “ We don’t like to rush in there. You see I was calm. I was cool, collected. I was picking my shots. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Showtime punch stats had Wilder landing 141 of 303 punches thrown, Molina landed 49 of 188.
With the win, Wilder (34-0, with 33 KOs) extends his unbeaten streak and holds on to the belt he lifted from Bermane Stiverne in January. Prior to the Stiverne bout, Wilder had dispatched Jason Gavern in four rounds and Malik Scott in just one.
Hailing from Raymondville, Texas, palooka Eric Molina (23-3, 17 KOs) had last been in action beating Raphael Zumbano Love with an eighth-round TKO on the Stiverne-Wilder undercard. Molina has suffered two other career-defeats: the first, in his debut bout; the second, to Chris Arreola in 2012.
“I told you guys I was gonna come and bring everything I got,” Molina said after the fight. “It wasn’t the results that I wanted, but what can I do.”
In the co-feature, 2008 Olympian Jose Pedraza (20-0, 12 KOs) extended his undefeated streak by outpointing Andrey Klimov (19-2, 9 KOs), making the Puerto Rican the new IBF junior lightweight world champion.
Round by Round Update
Deontay Wilder vs. Eric Molina (scores are unofficial)
Refresh this page throughout the fight for round-by-round updates.
Round 1: Molina wears black, Wilder in burgundy snakeskin trunks. Both shoot from an orthodox stance, they meet in the middle of the ring. Deontay jabbing with Molina taking to the perimeter. Wilder measuring. Big right from Wilder with Molina against the ropes. Spins off, Deontay stalking. Molina charges. Wilder stalking, using his jab to control the distance. Molina tries a jab, pushed away by right from Deontay. Right from Deontay. Jab from Deontay with Molina in the jab. Right from Molina at the end of the round. 10-9 Wilder
Round 2: Molina double jabs to the body, too short. Deontay jabbing and has Molina on the outside. Molina charges, but nothing. 1-2 wings Molina. Minute in, Molina wings with right. Molina in corner, Deontay looking for an opening. Wilder pressing with sparse jabs. Molina uppercut. Right from Molina. Right from Wilder. Left to the body from Wilder. 1-2 Wilder. Left hook from Wilder. Right to body from Molina. Rights from Molina land. 1-2 from Wilder closes out the round. 20-18 Wilder
Round 3: Wilder takes to stalking right away. Hook, Wilder. Working the jab. Bullcharge from Molina spoils Wilder’s rhythm. Right from Molina hurts Wilder. A left. Now a hook wobbles Wilder! Wilder trying to find his legs, but Molina not capitalizing. They clinch. Wilder comes back with a right. 1-2 from Wilder. Jab Wilder. Wilder seems ok now. Right and left from Molina. Molina misses with right, pays by eating a hook. Scary round for the bomber. 29-28 Wilder
Round 4: Wilder presses Molina to the ropes. Molina charges, but nothing. Jabs from Wilder in the corner. Wilder looking, observing. Left hook, Wilder. Minute in. Wilder stalking, Molina watches. Wilder jabbing. Low action round with a minute left. Wilder jabbing. Molina misses with right hands. Molina misses with uppercut. Molina in the corner, Wilder misses with right. Molina misses. Left hook KNOCKS DOWN Molina and the round is over. 39-36 Wilder
Round 5: Right from Wilder, Molina to the perimeter. Wilder jabbing. Patient. Molina charges, but nothing. Right from Wilder lands with Molina in the corner. Eric charges, nada. Wilder stalking, Molina charging when Wilder gets too close. Right from Molina lands. Wilder charges and lands all along. KNOCKDOWN! Molina on his back. He’s back up. Wilder attacks looking to end it. Molina runs. Wilder catches him and KNOCKDOWN! He’s up. Wilder stalks. 49-43 Wilder
Round 6: Wilder jabs. Again. Looking for an opening. Molina charges, Wilder resets. Right from Wilder lands. Molina misses with right to the body. Molina now in the center of the ring, had Wilder in the corner. Molina now pressing. Big left hook from Wilder puts him back on his back foot. Wilder back to pressing. Molina misses with left hook and a right. Molina pushes Wilder into the corner, but nothing. Right from Wilder. Left Wilder. Wilder trying to land with Molina in the corner. 59-52 Wilder
Round 7: They touch gloves and Wilder is in the perimeter. Wilder attacks. Left hook from Wilder. Molina holds on. Big right from Wilder with Molina in the corner. Wilder looking for to close the fight unloads. Takes a step back, reassess. They tie up. Molina charges out of the corner. Now Wilder in the corner, covering up. Wilder Comes out of th corner. Turns Molina into the ropes. In the corner, Molina back in the corner. They hold. Molina lands two rights to the body. 1-2 Wings Molina. 69-61 Wilder
Round 8: Molina takes to the perimeter. Charges. Attacks Wilder with wide hooks. Wilder working the jab. 1-2 from Wilder. Wilder misses with uppercut. Wilder jabs. Right hook from Molina catches the champ. Molina now pressuring, with Wilder on the back foot. Wilder back to leading. They clinch. Low action. Right from Wilder. Molina with a left, pushes Wilder back. Molina with a right to the body. Another, and an uppercut from Molina. Another upper from Molina. Good Molina round. 78-71 Wilder
Round 9: Eric to the corner, pushes his way out. Molina misses with big right. Wilder jabs, and Molina comes back. Whoa! Molina KNOCKED OUT by monster right hand! Game over! Wilder wins.