Deontay Wilder scored four knockdowns and was ahead wide on the scorecards when the fight was over, but the unbeaten American didn't exactly blow through underdog challenger Eric Molina tonight in Birmingham, Alabama. Still, Wilder was able to beat down his opponent, remaining undefeated and keeping his WBC heavyweight title with a ninth round stoppage win on Showtime.
Wilder (34-0, 33 KO) was cautious early, and Molina (23-3, 17 KO) was comfortable with that, looking to bait Wilder into something big, particularly looking for, it seemed, a big uppercut shot if Wilder was caught open and leaning in. That punch never really became a factor, but Molina did do some good body work, survived Wilder's best shots for a while, and was able to land a few left hooks and right hands upstairs, too.
That said, he was down 78-71 on our card when he was dropped for a fourth and final time, which brought referee Jack Reiss to the conclusion that the fight had gone on long enough, despite Molina's protests that he was fine to fight on. Molina had been put down in the fourth round and twice in the fifth, but stuck around in the fight and wore on Wilder a little, as the champ was certainly tiring over those last few rounds.
Wilder now will likely have to work out something to face Alexander Povetkin, his WBC mandatory challenger, and after seeing tonight's fights, Povetkin may be licking his chops. Since a 2013 loss to Wladimir Klitschko, Povetkin has hammered his last three opponents, including a 91-second stoppage of Mike Perez on May 22 in Russia.
Is Wilder really ready for Povetkin? Do you think maybe he overlooked Molina somewhat tonight? What did you think of his showing?