UNDEFEATED heavyweight champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Ala., will make the first defense of his title when he faces Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina (23-2, 17 KOs), of Raymondville, Texas, in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® onSaturday, June 13, live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala.
In the co-feature, undefeated Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (19-0, 12 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, will be opposed by Andrey Klimov (19-1, 9 KOs), of Klimovski, Russia, in a 12-rounder for the vacant IBF Junior Lightweight World Championship.
The 6-foot-7 Wilder captured the WBC heavyweight world championship with an impressive 12-round unanimous decision over defending titleholder Bermane Stiverne on Jan. 17 on SHOWTIME. It was the first time the hard-hitting Wilder, 29, had fought more than four full rounds and the only time in his seven-year career that one of his fights went to the judges. By winning, he became the first undefeated American to win a heavyweight title since Michael Moorer in 1994.
Molina, a 6-foot-5 southpaw, possesses punching power that commands respect and makes him a dangerous proposition for any opponent. He has won five in a row, three straight by knockout, including an eighth-round TKO over Raphael Zumbano Love on the Wilder-Stiverne undercard. If triumphant, the aggressive-minded 32-year-old would become the first Mexican-American heavyweight world champion.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to defend my heavyweight championship in my home state,’’ Wilder said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.
“It was one of my dreams to win a world title. This was my other dream to be able to defend it before all my fans in Alabama. I can’t wait until fight night to step into the ring and see the whole state coming out to support me.”
“I remember just a few months ago watching Deontay get ready for the biggest fight of his life,” Molina said. “I thought to myself, ‘someday, that’ll be me.’ I stared with envy not knowing that a few months later I’d get my turn.
“Winning the heavyweight world championship is my dream. Just as it was Deontay’s dream, it’s mine now. He had his turn, though it will be short-lived. I will become the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion. Guaranteed. So, champ, come prepared for war. I’m coming to kick some ass.”
“Deontay Wilder is the first American to hold a heavyweight championship in years and one of the most exciting fighters in the division. His homecoming in Birmingham will be electric,’’ promoter Lou DiBella said. “The opening bout will be Jose Pedraza’s opportunity to establish himself as Puerto Rico’s next champion and a rising star. It will be a great night of boxing on SHOWTIME.’’
“We are excited to work with DiBella Entertainment to bring the first ever heavyweight boxing championship to the State of Alabama,” said Gene Hallman, president and CEO of Bruno Event Team, a nationwide leader in sports event management. “Alabama’s Deontay Wilder always puts on a show, so we expect the arena to sell out for this world heavyweight championship.”
“Deontay made an emphatic statement with his performance in January that he is one of the current and future stars of this sport, and we’re thrilled to welcome him back to SHOWTIME for his first title defense, ” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President & General Manager SHOWTIME Sports. “But we all know that one punch can change everything in the heavyweight division and Eric Molina will be coming to Alabama to prove just that.”
ALL ACCESS: Deontay Wilder, which chronicles the champion’s Jan. 24 homecoming parade in Tuscaloosa and his preparation for the upcoming title defense, premieres on June 3.
Wilder, the first United States-born heavyweight champion since Shannon Briggs won the WBO belt in November 2006, was born and raised in Tuscaloosa. He’s fought in Alabama five times, although the bout on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will mark the first occasion he’s fought outside of Tuscaloosa (four times) or Mobile (once). This will be the first fight in his home state since August 2012.
Wilder started boxing at the age of 21 after his daughter Naieya (pronounced nie-EE-ya) was born with spina bifida. Despite his late start in boxing, Wilder would go on to represent the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games, where he won a bronze medal. He is the last American male boxer to medal in the Olympics.
Until going the distance against Stiverne, Wilder hadn’t come close to putting in a full night’s work since turning pro in November 2008. The then-virtually untested slugger had fought a total of 58 rounds, an average of 1.8 rounds per outing. He’s registered 18 knockouts in the first round, eight in the second.
Molina, who resides in Weslaco, Texas, is a big slugger, rugged and strong. He has good skills and movement and, like Wilder, got a belated start in boxing but has had only two defeats as a professional.
“The Drummer Boy” is on a roll, coming off five consecutive victories. Molina’s matchup with Wilder will be his first shot at a world title.