Unbeaten Heavyweight World Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, confident heavyweight contender Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina and unbeaten junior lightweight Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza participated in Media Day Workouts last Thursday for their fights Saturday, June 13, on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala.
The power-punching, popular hometown favorite Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Ala., will make the first defense of his title when he meets Molina (23-2, 17 KOs), of Raymondville, Texas, in the main event on June 13. Pedraza (19-0, 12 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, will meet Andrey Klimov (19-1, 9 KOs), of Klimovski, Russia, in a 12-rounder for the vacant IBF Junior Lightweight World Championship in the co-feature.
Below is what Wilder, Molina and Pedraza said during their separate Media Days in Northport, Ala., Weslaco, Texas and Cidra, Puerto Rico, respectively:
DEONTAY WILDER, Heavyweight World Champion
“It’s definitely a blessing to be able to fight in my state. When we set the goal to be heavyweight champion of the world that was one of the goals we set, to bring it to Alabama. Just to change it up and give Alabama some spice besides football, and to finally get the opportunity to have a major fight in the state of Alabama. This is what we were looking for when we worked to bring the commission here, and we were successful and got it done. This is what we were looking for.
“I want Alabama to be my home territory. It’s why I stay here. Some people still try to throw me out but my heart is here and I’ve got bigger and better plans. This is just the beginning.
“My team handles all the distractions (from fighting at home). I’ve got a wonderful team. I’m just ready to go. I’m ready to get this party started and welcome Molina to Alabama.
“My hand is fine. We tested it yesterday for 10-ounce gloves because that’s the competition weight. We put it on and I felt great. It gave me even more confidence. I’m ready to get in the ring and do what I have to do and perform for my people.”
(on being world champion)
“We knew we would be doing a lot of traveling after getting the belt but we didn’t know the capacity of how much. It’s been a journey for me.
“I think I bring a different flavor to the sport of boxing, and I want to bring even more to the world.”
“Every title defense is proving something. I’m the world’s most wanted, and everyone wants it. I’ve got the WBC crown. It’s the most well-known, famous belt in boxing. Everyone wants their name on this belt, and I have it. Every fight is a dangerous fight when I’m putting the belt on the line, and I train as if everyone is a world champion.”
“My last fight I proved to everyone what I was capable of. I can go 12 rounds and take a punch. I can be just as fresh in the 12th round as the 1st.
“The sky’s the limit in what we’re trying to do. I represent the state. Even though I’m from Tuscaloosa, it’s not just where my gym is in Northport or Coffeeville. I represent the state of Alabama. I need a home territory and a home state not only where we can bring in local people, bring in the nation, but also bring in the whole world.”
ERIC MOLINA, Heavyweight Contender
“This is the fight that we dream about when we first lace on the gloves and I am extremely excited about the opportunity to fight for the biggest prize in sports, the WBC heavyweight title. I’ve been preparing and training very hard, and I’m almost at the point where we’re ready to go.
“We’ve studied a lot of Wilder, and expect a very physical fight. I think a lot of people are underestimating my strength and power. They know Wilder can punch but they are underestimating the power that I possess.
“We know it’s going be a hostile environment, fighting in basically his backyard, but he’s now the champion and with that he gets an opportunity in his optional title defense (to fight who he wants, where he wants). He gets to enjoy those opportunities, but that’s where I come in.
“I’ve been boxing for nine years. I have a BS and Master’s Degree and I’m in my fourth year teaching kids with disabilities. Along with boxing, this is what I do. This is who I am, and I am not ashamed of who I am either. I’m proud. If they want to consider me an underdog, fine. But I’m also the guy who got knocked out in his first pro fight and battled back to where I am now and I’m fighting for the championship.
“What people don’t know about me is that my career has been all about determination, strength and struggles. Other boxers, including Bernard Hopkins, lost their first fights and went on to win a world title. I’ve learned a lot from my two losses and now I have the confidence to accomplish anything.
“Bottom line is I am not trying to convince anybody who I am, I just want people to see who the real Eric Molina is — that I am more than what my record on paper indicates. I was NABF champion for a while but could never get a fight so I was dropped from the rankings. It was like I had to start over again. But I stuck to it, and with everything else I had going on outside the ring, things I had to put aside for this fight, still managed to get into the position I’m in now.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a heavyweight contender like me. Where I train, there are no other real heavyweights except for one or two. I have to fly guys in to help me work with the guys already here. I’ve been in camps with Bermane Stiverne; I often had to go to where the sparring was just to get the work.
“I’ve never been in a spot where things have been easy for me in boxing. I never had the odds on my side, the tools, the resources. But I still made it this far and want to go farther.
JOSE PEDRAZA, Unbeaten Junior Lightweight Contender
“As a Puerto Rican, every time I fight, I fight for the honor of my people. So, on June 13, I won’t only be fighting to win a world title, I’ll be fighting for Cidra, Puerto Rico and for all the Puerto Ricans out there watching me. Puerto Rico needs another champion and I’m here to deliver and make my people proud. I cannot afford to let them down. I won’t let Puerto Rico down. I’ll come back a champion.
“This is a great opportunity fighting on a big show on SHOWTIME. It has taken hard work, dedication and long gym work to obtain this big exposure on SHOWTIME.
“My last fight against Michael Farenas was very important to me because that fight was a title eliminator and, by winning, it opened the door to this fight and finally my dream of becoming world champion is close to arriving.
“It has been a long and hard training camp — intensive. We opened camp in Las Vegas in December. This camp has been special because it is for the world championship.
“Andrey Klimov is a strong boxer, always going forward, the jab and straight right are his best shots. The only thing I see is he is strong and has good fitness. From his last fight against Terrence Crawford I could see that he has problems when he fights a left-handed boxer with good movement. I will be working in side steps and with speed.
“I hope that he comes well prepared for me. We must do our best to give the fans a good show. On June 13, I will be a new champ and after that I want to make two defenses and move to 135.”
ALL ACCESS: Deontay Wilder, which chronicle’s the champion’s January fight against Bermane Stiverne and sets the stage as he prepares for his upcoming title defense, premieres on Wednesday, June 3 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
“WILDER vs. MOLINA,” a 12-Round fight for Wilder’s WBC Heavyweight Championship, takes place Saturday, June 13, at The Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala. DiBella Entertainment and Bruno Event Team have joined forces to bring this event to Alabama. In the co-main event co-romoted by DiBella in association with Universal Promotions, Jose Pedraza will face Andrey Klimov in a 12-Round bout for the IBF Jr. Lightweight World Title. It will air live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT). The telecast will also be available in Spanish via secondary audio programming (SAP). Preliminary bouts will be televised live on SHOWTIME EXTREME (7 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).