By Erik Harris
BIRMINGHAM – For the first time in state history, a world boxing championship will be on the line this Saturday night in Birmingham.
Hometown favorite Deontay Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, will make his first defense of the WBC Heavyweight Championship belt against Texan Eric Molina, who is considered a sizeable underdog.
Molina, 33, will enter the ring with a record of 23-2; 17 of those victories came via knockout. His two loses, however, came way of first-round TKO.
The local product, Wilder, specializes in the distribution of early knockouts. After pummeling the belt from the hands of Bermane Stiverne in January, Wilder claimed an overall mark of 33-0. All but one of those disputes has ended in knockout fashion.
Wilder, also known as “The Bronze Bomber”, began his professional boxing career after bronzing in the 2008 Olympics.
He and Molina will settle their differences on Saturday night in UAB’s Bartow Arena, which seats 8,500 fans. The fight – the first of its kind in Alabama – is expected to sell out. Showtime will air the event starting at 8 p.m. Showtime Extreme will cover preliminary bouts starting at 6 p.m.
At a press conference on Thursday in the Embassy Suites hotel, Wilder told a Molina representative, “You are in my state, homeboy. When I knock your man out, I’m gonna’ tell him, ‘Welcome to Alabama.’”