By Jake Donovan
Deontay Wilder’s first defense of his heavyweight belt is all but guaranteed to take place June 13 in Birmingham, Alabama. An opponent has yet to be named for his homecoming appearance, with the fight taking place barely an hour from his Tuscaloosa hometown.
The most oft-mentioned name to land the assignment – which will air on Showtime, live from the 8,500-seat Bartow Arena on the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) - has been Eric Molina, though Wilder’s team insist a decision hasn’t yet been made.
“There are three or four candidates for the fight,” noted Jay Deas, who has managed and helped train Wilder since he first laced up gloves at age 19. “We have an idea of who we’d like to face, but there is nothing yet concrete for the final challenger.”
Wilder (33-0, 32KOs) claimed his portion of the heavyweight prize with a 12-round decision over Bermane Stiverne this past January in what is easily his best career win to date. With the title-lifting effort, he became the first American heavyweight to own an alphabet title since 2007, and is also the last American boxer to win an Olympic medal, claiming the bronze in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Now injury free and with a major belt in tow, Wilder hopes to become the first heavyweight in nearly 30 years to have four title fights in a calendar year. The feat hasn’t been accomplished since 1987, when Mike Tyson ruled the heavyweight roost with an iron fist.
“Of course, we still need to get through June first,” Deas notes. “Provided we win in June and come out untouched, we hope to fight again September and December.
“A fight with (lineal heavyweight champion Wladimir) Klitschko would obviously change that, but otherwise we want to keep busy this year now that he's back to being healty. Can you imagine that, the heavyweight champion of the world fighting four times in a year!”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox