WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) makes the first defence of his title this Saturday against Eric Molina (23-2, 17 KOs) in the Bartow Arena, Birmingham, Alabama.
Wilder hold a unique position in the heavyweight division, he is the first American boxer to hold a heavyweight title in nine years since Shannon Briggs won the WBO heavyweight strap in 2006. In recent years heavyweight boxing has declined in interest for American audiences. Wilder may be the fighter to take it back to the top.
Wilder’s own story is particularly interesting. In his late teens his partner gave birth to their daughter Naieya, who was diagnosed shortly afterwards with spina bifida. Wilder dropped out of college and took on several menial jobs before finally taking up boxing at twenty on the advice of his friend, despite never having laced up gloves before.
Standing 6’7 and weighing in at sixteen stone, Wilder has an intimidating presence but he is an affable and articulate young man. With his blue collar background and upbringing in Alabama he stands in contrast to the well-educated doctorate holding Wladimir Klitschko. Wilder’s story is reminiscent of many of the great heavyweights who took up boxing in an effort to improve their social standing as much as to win titles.
What also sets Wilder apart from the average fighter is his loyalty to his manager/trainer Jay Deas. Deas claims that he is the first trainer in history to work with a fighter from day one right up until they won a world title. The pair continue to work together from their training base in Alabama which has taken them through the amateurs to a Bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to finally a Heavyweight title.
However the most striking thing about Wilder is his record. He is considered one of the hardest punchers in the heavyweight division with a knockout ratio of 96.9% He has won all but one of his fights by knockout, with eighteen first round knockouts to his credit. He first went the distance in his is last fight against Canada’s Bermane Stiverne in which he won the WBC heavyweight title. The damage inflicted by Wilder was so severe that Stiverne was hospitalised for twelve days following the fight.
As Wladimir Klitschko approaches the end of his career Wilder is been viewed as a natural heir to the Heavyweight throne. His personality and punching power could help re-ignite the public’s interest in heavyweight boxing. Wilder has enlisted the help of Al Haymon, Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s advisor to assist in building his career. A potential fight against Klitschko is probably much further down the road, as Wilder would need to build his profile to make it a much more lucrative fight if it does in fact happen.
For the time being Wilder will have to content himself with his first defence of his title against fellow American Eric Molina. Molina has previous fought at both cruiserweight and heavyweight, he was knocked out in one round by heavyweight contender Chris Arreola who subsequently lost a decision and the rematch by knockout against Bermane Stiverne the fighter who Wilder hospitalised to win the WBC title. There is nothing on Molina’s record that would give Wilder cause for concern, he has largely fought journeymen fighters and both his losses were first round knockouts.
Molina’s nickname is ‘Drummer Boy,’ and as harsh as this sounds Wilder will be expected to give him an absolute drumming. Expect a first round knockout in favour of Wilder.