Deontay Wilder has been flying under the radar until recently due to a strength of opponents that was questionable at best.
But after logging some impressive victories of late — namely a knockout of Malik Scott and a unanimous decision victory against Bermane Stiverne, in which he won the WBC Heavyweight Championship — he has officially jumped to the top of the division.
That’s a place that has only been occupied by Wladimir Klitschko for the last several years.
Going into Saturday’s contest with Eric Molina, Deontay Wilder had racked up 33 victories, 32 of which came by knockout.
Molina (23-2, 17 KOs going into fight) was a game challenger, but ultimately the champ proved he continues to belong at the top.
The bout, scheduled for 12 rounds, only made it to round nine. Along the way, Wilder dropped the challenger four times.
It was a dominant performance against a tough challenger, who kept getting up. And it was one that the six-foot, seven-inch champ appreciated.
“What I needed was a tough guy, I needed a guy that had heart, I needed a guy that was going to get dropped but come back up and still fight. I needed that. And Eric Molina, I got that out of him,” Wilder said in comments reported by AL.com after the fight.
The champ continued.
“To be honest, I definitely was surprised. It does my heart so good even standing in front of him right now and say this guy has heart. All the critics doubted him, all the naysayers said he wouldn’t last but I’m so proud of him. He has my support from this point on because this is the first ever title defense in any weight division in the state of Alabama.”
If Molina had won, he would have become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion, but Wilder’s hard punches proved to be too much.
It was a stellar win for the Alabama native, and it was the first world heavyweight title fight to be held in the state. Earlier this week, a sellout of Bartow Arena was announced with close to 10,000 fans counted in attendance.
While not the spectacle of a Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, it was 10 times more entertaining. And even though the next opponent for Deontay Wilder is mandatory WBC challenger Alexander Povetkin, this fight moves Wilder leaps and bounds closer to a unification bout with Klitschko. After all, the only loss on Povetkin’s record is Klitschko, and that was by way of unanimous decision.
If Wilder can continue his knockout streak against his next challenger, then a showdown with Klitschko is the only big fight the heavyweight division has left to make.
Do you think Deontay Wilder is ready to unify the titles?
[Image via Boxing Insider]