BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- About a half hour had passed and Don King (who represents and promotes Eric Molina) still hadn't arrived at the Embassy Suites hotel in Birmingham, Alabama. Close to 50 media members filed in for the press conference ahead of Deontay Wilder and Eric Molina's fight for the WBC heavyweight title this Saturday at UAB's Bartow Arena.
The story had been told numerous times. Eric "Drummer Boy" Molina, the 33-year-old boxer from Raymondville, Texas --the underdog. Deontay "Bronze Bomber" Wilder, the hometown kid looking to bolster his resume with another knockout victory, this time in his home state.
After stating that only 200 tickets remain available for the first title fight taking place in Alabama Saturday night, Johnathan Austin, a Birmingham city council president, announced, "These type of things don't happen with partnerships. From the Bruno Event team, UAB, I know it's going to be a success and it's going to be a wild night in Birmingham."
Following Austin was Ron Rizzo of DiBella Entertainment who thanked numerous folks ahead of this bout, and then came Jody McCormick of the Alabama athletic commission. "On behalf of the Alabama athletic commission, I'd like to welcome Deontay Wilder, Eric Molina, and everybody here for this event," McCormick said, and making official that big time boxing had come to the Heart of Dixie.
Midway through McCormick's turn at the podium, the cameramen and women perked up and turned their Nikons and Canons towards the door, as in came a man holding 25 flags and dressed in a jean-type jacket with pins and bling emblazoned across it.
"With that, I see Mr. King is here, so I'll cut my remarks," finished McCormick. "And thank you all for coming."
How convenient. Comes in right when he needs to take the podium. pic.twitter.com/XEgI4VeJvu— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) June 11, 2015
King walked up to where the press conference was being held, marched up the stairs like a servicemen would carrying his multitude of flags, and stepped right up to the podium. Only fitting that he'd walk in right when it was time for him to take the microphone.
He began, "It's great to be in the great state of Alabama. We have a great Alabamian sitting on my right (Deontay Wilder) and we have a great Texan in Eric Molina. Texas, 'The Lone Star State,' George Walker Bush, you know."
"Deontay Wilder is a great conversationist, he's very loquacious," he continued.
Listening to Don King speak you forget he's representing Eric Molina. He's talking D up big time.— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) June 11, 2015
"We know that Deontay is undefeated, and he has a hypnotic quality about him. Using a Texas vernacular, though, we're going to have to just make it happen. Texans don't listen, they only do. So, that's why it may be a shocking surprise because Molina can't understand Deontay's English, it's more like hieroglyphics."
Sam Watson sat in the crowd along with his son, Brandon, and they both seemed to relish in the Don King denigration. As Molina soon-after gave his remarks and Wilder eventually stepped to the podium, the media was ready for some reaction. And, Wilder was ready to give it to them.
"I can't wait for Saturday. This is what I love to do. I love to fight. I love to box. I love this game. They say you have to eat, breathe, and sleep it and I do all of the above and more," Wilder said, beaming. "I'm never out of shape, guys. I can take months off and then come in and do 20 rounds. Of course, when you become the champion everybody wants your attention. I don't get ready when it's time to fight, I don't go to camp, I don't believe in all of that. I stay in shape, that's what I do."
Six minutes of Wilder talked went by, and one Molina compadre yelled out at him. That set him off.
"Don says he ain't going to understand my language," he said, staring at the compadre. He then raised his fist, clenched it, and said, "But this here, this is universal."
The media room erupted as the Wilder crew fed off of the comments. And, as everyone braced for him to close the press conference, he again looked at the compadre and concluded, "You are in my state, homeboy. When I knock your man out, I'm gonna tell him, 'Welcome to Alabama.'"
Leading into Saturday night's spectacle on Showtime, this talk is only heating up. Oliver McCall, who was once a heavyweight champion himself and is now apart of the Molina camp said, "I really liked this press conference. It showed the vigor of both opponents and it showed love and respect as sportsman."
"I'm pumped to be part of it and to see someone hopefully break history being the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion," he said of Molina. "I'm just going through the flow and enjoying the moment, but now that he's done a face off, oh, now it's fight time."