Deontay Wilder Knocks Out Eric Molina in Ninth Round
It took longer than most expected, and there were a few uncomfortable moments for the WBC Heavyweight Champion. But in the end, Deontay Wilder ended the fight in his usual fashion: with a powerful right hand. Wilder knocked out challenger Eric Molina, a heavy underdog, in the ninth round in font of over 9,000 screaming fans in a sold-out Bartow Arena in Birmingham. His record now sits at 34-0.
There was controversy surrounding the decision to hold the fight in Birmingham, with Wilder's team feeling spurned by the University of Alabama after being denied the option of using Coleman Coliseum. However, the crowd in the Magic City might make Wilder never want to fight elsewhere. After one takedown in the fourth round, the crowd was so loud that the ref had trouble hearing the bell to end the round. It was an atmosphere like no other in the sport.
While many predicted a quick win for the champ, Molina surprised the experts by not only withstanding several of Wilder's big punches, but also dealing out some punishment himself. In the third round, Molina wobbled Wilder with a right hand, and his aggressiveness won him the eighth round as well.
But Wilder won more battles than he lost tonight. He spent most of the night on the attack, and dropped Molina three times before the final knockout. Wilder showed an increased use of the left hook, adding another punch to his arsenal. His jab continues to be a great counter to opponents who take a defensive stance to lure him into a counter.
Some questions will definitely be raised by the length of the fight. Despite his record, Wilder is still seeking respect from the boxing community as a whole, who still see him as beneath Wladimir Klitschko, who owns every other heavyweight belt. A bout between the two champs is hopefully just around the corner.
Nevertheless, Wilder remains an undefeated champ and America's latest hope to break Europe's hold on the heavyweight division. He also keeps endearing himself to his homestate, and his status as a hometown hero remains intact.