IN the first title fight in the state of Alabama, Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (34-0, 33 KOs), had to work harder than expected before dismantling Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina (23-3, 17 KOs) with a ninth round knockout Saturday night in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING live on SHOWTIME.
Hometown hero Wilder, who was born and still resides just 60 miles down the road in Tuscaloosa, dropped Molina, of Lyford, Texas, with a straight right hand 63 seconds in the ninth round, prompting referee Jack Reiss to call the fight off as a result of Molina’s fourth and final knockdown of the evening in front of a raucous sold out crowd of 9,347 at Bartow Arena on the campus of University of Alabama Birmingham.
A game Molina surprised Wilder with his stamina and heart. “I was surprised by Molina, he showed tremendous heart,” said an elated Wilder as roars from the crowd rang down from the rafters. “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.”
Wilder knocked down Molina once in the fourth round with a left hook and twice in the fifth round with his deadly right hand, looking as if the fight would be stopped before the start of the sixth round. But Molina was determined to get up and was even able to land a big right hand in the eighth round, stunning a seemingly tired Wilder.
Although not the outcome he had hoped for, Molina was grateful for the opportunity. “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.”
Boxing historian and SHOWTIME Analyst Steve Farhood provided interesting insight after the main event. “I thought this fight produced three winners. Deontay Wilder, the state of Alabama and believe it or not, Eric Molina. Expectations were low for Molina, but he is going to get more offers based off this fight. He presented a reasonable challenge and fought with a lot of heart. The crowd was fantastic and I think that everyone would like to see Deontay Wilder fight here again.”
In the opening bout of the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader, Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (20-0, 12 KOs) dominated Andrey Klimov (20-1, 9 KOs) from the opening bell to claim the vacant IBF Junior Lightweight Title with a unanimous decision victory.
Pedraza, making his 2015 debut, triumphed by the scores of 120-108 twice and 119-109.
Pedraza was all smiles afterward. “I was very happy because I have sacrificed my life for the last 14 years to become a world champion,” he said. “It wasn’t easy but it’s a dream come true, a dream every fighter thinks about to become a world champion.”
From the opening bell, Pedraza, of Cidra, Puerto Rico, used his superior hand speed, combination punching and body jabs to create distance and keep Klimov, of Klimovsk, Russia, at bay. Pedraza landed 50 percent of his power shots compared to a 26 percent rate by Klimov. The Puerto Rican becomes the 62nd fighter who has appeared on ShoBox: The New Generation, to become world champion.
Pedraza used previous Puerto Rican champions as motivation in claiming his first title. “Becoming the seventh Puerto Rican Champion at 130 means the world to me,” he said. “I look up to Miguel Cotto and now young Puerto Rican boxers are going to look up to me.”
After the fight, Klimov revealed why he was covered in blood for most of the night. “On the very first punch of the fight, Pedraza broke my nose and from that point forward I was playing catch up,” he said. “My ability in the ring was hindered because of my nose, as it kept on swelling.”
Although the nose was a factor in the fight, a battered Klimov made no excuses. “Pedraza did an exceptional job, he is a really good, fast fighter.”
Opening the SHOWTIME BOXING on SHO EXTREME telecast undefeated Julian “J-Rock” Williams (20-0-1, 12KOs) of Philadelphia, Pa. delivered an impressive sixth-round TKO (2:43) over Armen Ovsepyan (14-5, 11 KOs) of Yerevan, Armenia, to retain his WBC Continental Super Welterweight Title.
Williams started strong knocking Ovsepyan down with a big right hand 35 seconds into the first round. He continued to outbox Ovsepyan, breaking him down with big and accurate body shots with both hands. By the time of the stoppage, Williams had landed 52 percent of his total punches, compared to Ovsepyan’s 19 percent.
“I probably could’ve finished him earlier, but I wanted to take my time,” said Williams. “Despite what people may think, he’s a decent fighter and a good puncher. I didn’t want to force the knockout, because that can make a boxer look unpolished.”
“I got the knockout and I’m ready for the next stage of my career. I am calling out the entire division, but I’d like to start with Austin Trout. I turned 25 in April and I need to start building my resume because I want to be in the Boxing Hall of Fame someday.”
In the SHOWTIME EXTREME main event, undefeated Montenegrin Dejan “El Dinamita” Zlaticanin (17-0, 10 KOs) delivered an upset with the second knockout of the evening, tarnishing the unblemished record of Ukrainian Ivan “El Terrible” Redkach (18-1, 14 KOs) with a TKO at 1:24 of the fourth round with a devastating left hook.
Redkach had a six inch reach advantage over Zlaticanin, but the Montenegrin was the stronger more accurate man landing 33 percent of his total punches compared to Redkach’s 21 percent. Redkach took a knee in the third after a low blow and an accidental headbutt that led to a small cut. At the time of the stoppage, Zlaticanin was ahead on all the scorecards, 27-30 and 28-29 twice.
A virtual unknown to U.S. fans coming in, Zlaticanin couldn’t contain his excitement afterward. “I feel like I am living a dream, I am very happy,” he said. “I beat somebody who is a boxing standout in America. I knew going into the fight that I was the better fighter. I really wanted to hurt him in that ring. I heard that he was a great boxer and power puncher, but he underestimated my talents. I showed the American fan base what I am capable of.”
After the fight, Redkach was visibly distraught. “I am very disappointed,” he said. “This is my first professional loss. I don’t understand why the referee stopped the fight when there was still over a minute left in the round. I felt perfectly fine in the ring that was a bad stoppage.”
In a swing bout, promising undefeated prospect Ahmed Elbiale (11-0, 10 KOs) of Miami, Fla. by way of Egypt, scored a 1:04, first round knockout over Donta Woods (8-5, 7KOs) of Atlanta.