Despite what some might be saying about Deontay Wilder’s performance against Eric Molina in his hometown showcase, featured on Showtime Championship Boxing, he did accomplish the only really important thing he needed to, which was getting the victory.
Wilder defeated Molina by knockout in the 9th.
The knockout was expected, although most assumed it would come much sooner. What wasn’t expected was the way Molina was able to touch Wilder’s chin.
In fact, Molina seemed to hurt Wilder in the third with a wild left hook, although he was never in any serious trouble.
But it is unfair to take issue with Wilder getting touched because it is a fight after all. Sure it is nice to have a Mortal Kombat style “flawless victory,” but it doesn’t mean much for a fighter to get hit at some point in a prize fight, especially at the world-class level.
I contend that a fighter not getting hit in a prize fight says more about the lack of competition than it does about the skillset of the victor.
The real reason that people were critical of Wilder had more to do with the way he was being hit. It seemed at one point that Molina was landing his right hand whenever he wanted to, and he certainly fell into a groove that a crafty fighter would’ve staved off.
Wilder failed to make adjustments in a timely fashion, but that certainly doesn’t mean he a lesser fighter than the one that walked into the ring last night.
The discrepancy has more to do with those fans that believed Wilder was a flawless fighter to begin with and assumed he is at this moment a threat to Wladimir Klitschko’s throne. Wilder has always had flaws. His footwork is messy, he doesn’t always set up his punches with proficiency, and I’m not sure how far behind his other punches are when compared to his best shot.
If you believed that Wilder was a flawless fighter but became concerned after his performance against Molina, then the problem is/was always with you.
Wilder did what he had to do. He got the win. It is as simple as that.
There was nothing to gain from a win against Molina and the quicker he ended the fight the more people would’ve trashed his opponent, not to mention the lack of showmanship offered up to a location that won’t likely get another fight anytime soon.
There was one devastating loss suffered by Wilder. Well, not so much Wilder the competitor, but more of a loss for the “Bomb Squad” brand.
All of the criticism was to be expected. In fact, in the lead up to this promotion fans were highly critical of Molina as an opponent, so much so that Wilder spent most of his promotional tour talking up Molina, which resembled a used car salesman trying to convince a customer that the 1991 Camry with 100,000 miles is worth the buy.
Worst of all, when Wilder wasn’t trying to convince people of Molina’s worthiness, he was busy explaining to fans that if they weren’t satisfied with his next opponent then wait for the next.
Everyone involved with this promotion – Wilder, Haymon, and ShowTime – knew that this opponent did nothing for the hardcore audience that would make up the majority of the ratings. This was a lose/lose situation for Wilder and fans were going to find something to complain about in regards to the outcome.
So, the question has to be asked: why wasn’t this fight on NBC?
If “PBC” was designed to give relatively unknown fighters with commercial potential and appeal the chance to be seen on a bigger platform, and if NBC was the first network Haymon reached out to because of their national success with sports broadcasting, then why wasn’t a heavyweight champion with real knockout power given the exposure?
Wilder-Molina was never for the hardcore fans because you can’t get anything over on them. This fight was always for the casual fan that didn’t know any better and would appreciate the inevitable Wilder KO victory without over analyzing the opponent.
Any casual fan that saw Saturday’s fight would only be talking about the fight, and if they mentioned it to anyone they would say that Wilder was someone that needed to be watched. They certainly wouldn’t accuse Wilder of fighting a lesser opponent or search for the flaws in Molina.
This is the kind of fight that needed to be on NBC for no other reason but exposure at a prime moment. This was the perfect storm of an opponent with a good story and a deceiving resume being fed to a guy that was almost guaranteed the stoppage.
Furthermore, the fact that the fight was even slightly competitive only made the loss of exposure that much more damaging.
To the hardcore fan, the competitive nature of the fight was proof that Wilder could be chinny. It was proof that Wilder’s defense is suspect, and it shut down any talks of a competitive fight with Klitschko — who holds three of the four title belts in the heavyweight division.
But the casual fan would’ve only appreciated the drama in the fight. It would’ve sucked them into the fight and made them feel something for Wilder, and maybe Molina, which would’ve possibly resonated past this one promotion and beyond to further fights to come.
It is a huge loss for Wilder, especially if the rumors are true about him headlining a PBConNBC card in September, more so if it’s against his mandatory Alexander Povetkin. Now, Wilder’s biggest exposure will come without the “I’ve seen him before” factor.
In fact, it’s rumored he won’t even fight Povetkin. Chris Arreola and Tony Thompson are rumored to be in the running.
Arreola was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko’s older brother Vitali — now retired — in 2009, including a sixth-round stoppage defeat to Bermane Stiverne for the WBC title a year ago that Wilder now possesses.
Tony Thompson, on the other hand, has been knocked out twice by Wladimir.
This was a huge disservice to the Bomb Squad brand, but it could easily be rectified.
All Wilder has to do to make up for the lack of viewership from this non-NBC bout is KO Povetkin in his next outing during prime time network television. Easy, right?