Wilder’s first heavyweight title defense set with Molina
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) — Deontay Wilder is staying close to home for his first defense of the WBC heavyweight title.
Wilder will fight fellow American Eric Molina on June 13 at Bartow Arena, about an hour from his Tuscaloosa hometown. It will be the first title fight held in Alabama, a state that has produced past champions Evander Holyfield (Atmore) and Joe Louis (Lafayette).
The bout was announced on Thursday and will be televised by Showtime.
“This is the first championship boxing event ever in the state of Alabama, and I love making history,” Wilder said in a news conference at the arena. “I love putting on for my people, my family. I can’t wait. I’ve got a great opponent (who’s) got a great opportunity to become the heavyweight champion of the world himself. But I can’t let that happen.”
Wilder is 33-0, with the only fight that went the distance his unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne on Jan. 17 for the WBC crown. He is the first unbeaten American to own a piece of the heavyweight title since Michael Moorer in 1994.
Molina is 23-2 with 17 knockouts and five straight victories, including three KOs in a row.
The undercard will include Jose Pedraza (19-0) of Puerto Rico against Andrey Klimov of Russia (19-1) for the vacant IBF junior lightweight championship.