Deontay Wilder will travel just up the road from his hometown for his title defense of his WBC heavyweight title.
The Tuscaloosa native on May 14 announced officially that he will face Eric Molina of Texas on June 13 at Bartow Arena on the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus. The 12-round bout will mark the first time a professional boxing championship of any weight division has occurred in Alabama. It will be the main event of Showtime Championship Boxing on Saturday, June 13, live on Showtime at 8 p.m. CDT.
“I’m super excited. I can’t wait,” the 6-foot-7 title holder said. “I tend to stare out as if a crowd were here. I look out into the arena now, visualizing when that time comes on June 13th when this place will be packed with everybody in their seat, cheering for Deontay Wilder. It’s going to be crazy.” [
The event is expected to have an enormous economic impact. Bruno Event Team President and CEO Gene Hallman said the demand for tickets was already great during the pre-sale period and he expects demand to remain high as the official sales period is underway.
Thursday’s announcement included an unconventional stare down as Molina appeared on a large screen via Skype. The challenger said he is thankful Wilder picked him for his first title defense but the champion “picked the wrong heavyweight,” adding that this is his opportunity to earn the belt.
Molina brings a 23-2 record into the bout. He has won his past five fights with three of those coming by knockout. He had an eighth-round TKO of Raphael Zumbano Love on the undercard of the Jan. 17 fight in which Wilder beat Bermane Stiverne on Showtime to earn the WBC heavyweight crown.
“He’s never been down before but he’ll know how it feels to go down,” said the 6-foot-5 southpaw, who opted to miss the announcement in Birmingham as he continued to train. Molina, who is bidding to become the first Mexican-American heavyweight world champion, said he’ll give Wilder more than the champion can expect. Molina said he has been counted out before but “has come back somehow.”
Victory for Molina will be no small task. Wilder is undefeated at 33-0 and only once has he had to go the distance. That came in his win over Stiverne.
The champion is the first unbeaten American to own a heavyweight title since Michael Moorer in 1994.
“I’m all about my legacy, what I do while I’m here,” Wilder said. “I’m going to do the best I can do while I’m here to make a difference, not only in boxing but to affect the world. I have touched so many people, people I don’t even know. I hear so many stories from younger people, older people and it does my heart some good just to hear people say I’ve motivated them.”
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Bruno Event Team, start at $25. The best seats in the arena will go for $200. VIP packages are also available. To purchase tickets, fans can go to alabamatitlefight.com.
– Solomon Crenshaw Jr.