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Deontay Wilder working with Eric Molina for Arreola fight

Chris Arreola Deontay Wilder

By Patrick McHugh: WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) is working out with #8 IBF, #12 WBC contender Eric Molina (25-3, 19 KOs) to get ready for his July 16 title defense against former two-time world title challenger Chris Arreola (36-4-1, 31 KOs) at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. Wilder stopped Molina in the 9th round last year in June 2015 in Wilder’s first title defense of his WBC belt in Birmingham, Alabama.

Molina, 34, has since turned his career around with two consecutive knockout victories over Rodricka Ray and Tomasz Adamek. Molina’s 10th round stoppage win over former two-division world champion Adamek last April has vaulted Molina into the top 10 in the IBF’s rankings.

The help that Wilder is getting from Molina could wind up being tougher than his actual fight against the 35-year-old Arreola. We’re going to have to see whether Arreola has anything left in the tank at this point in his career, because he’s not looked good in his last four fights against Travis Kauffman, Fred Kassi, Curtis Harper and Bermane Stiverne.

Arreola can’t blame all of those performances on him being heavy, because he appeared to be in good shape for the Kauffman, Stiverne and Kassi fights. Arreola had his weight down for all of those contests and he should have shined. Instead, Arreola struggled and lost to Stiverne, and had a controversial 12 round draw against Kassi and a controversial 12 round split decision win over Kauffman. The victory over Kauffman was later changed to a no-contest after Arreola tested positive for a banned substance.

Wilder is making his fourth defense of his title. It’s unfortunately also Wilder’s fourth voluntary defense in a row. Some boxing fans joke that Wilder is on a path to break the record for most consecutive voluntary defenses for a heavyweight champion. However, Wilder was supposed to defend his title against Alexander Povetkin on May 21 last month, but the Russian fighter tested positive for the banned drug Medonium. This led the World Boxing Council to make the move of postponing that fight until they had time to investigate the matter.

The WBC chose to give Wilder a voluntary defense while he waits for them to make their decision about Povetkin. It’s a good move by the WBC because Wilder spent a great deal of time and effort preparing for the Povetkin clash. At least now Wilder can get back into the ring quickly next month to defend his title against Arreola on July 16.

Arreola has a chance to make history in this fight if he can beat Wilder. Arreola would become the first Mexican American to capture the heavyweight title. That’s the goal that he has for this fight, and he likes his chances to accomplish it. Wilder prepared for Povetkin for weeks, and now he’s got a completely different fighter in Arreola that he’ll need to figure out.

Arreola has a style that is potentially more problematic for Wilder than Povetkin would have been due to the high pressure that Arreola puts on his opponents. Wilder doesn’t look good when he’s being backed up. He gives ground easy and he tends to back straight up to the ropes. Arreola could have the perfect for him to score a quick knockout if Wilder fights like he usually does.

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