GUTSY Mexican/American Eric Molina was expected by most to have next to no chance against unbeaten WBC heavyweight king Deontay Wilder. Yet when the 33-year-old challenged Wilder this past Saturday, he put on a valiant effort in making it to the ninth-round.

Molina fell to 23-3(17) in losing in what was Wilder’s maiden title defence, yet he is sure he will come back and engage in further big fights. Molina is also understandably proud of the fine effort he gave in Birmingham, Alabama against the now 34-0 (33) Wilder.

Here he speaks exclusively with Boxing News:  

Q: Congratulations on a gutsy fight and a worthy challenge of Wilder. Obviously you wanted to win, but do you get some satisfaction from the respect you have gained for your great effort?

Eric Molina: “Definitely. Everything I read as I came in [to the fight] it was all focusing on the [Chris] Arreola fight, and that’s not me anymore. It took me 25 fights to get my confidence and I hope people don’t take anything away from Wilder. He had, and the media had, no idea where I had had to come from, what my mindset was coming into this fight. I knew I’d put it all on the line and leave it all in the ring. But Wilder, he was very tough.”

Q: You showed real heart in getting up from knockdowns in the fourth and fifth-rounds. Did you feel Wilder was tiring at all as the fight unexpectedly went into the later rounds?

E.M: “I felt I was wearing him down, but at the same time, I was wearing down too. I don’t want to make any excuses, but with one of the earlier knockdowns [I suffered] I sprained my ankle real bad. I had real success when I was pressing him, but with the ankle, I wasn’t able to press him as effectively. But I told everyone I would come to fight and I came to fight. I really wanted to show the world that. I said that the experts don’t know me and what I’ve had to go through. But that’s okay, I don’t expect them to know. I was [something like] a 50-1 underdog, not expected to make it out of the first-round. They [the media] just don’t know me. I’m proud of my effort. I came to win, not to just put on a show.”

Q: It’s obviously very early, but have you any idea what you would like to do next? You have proven you are a genuine top-ten contender.

E.M: “Just rest. I’m not one for calling out names, but I always want to fight the best. I’ll go anywhere to fight the best. Again, no excuses, but I would have liked a bit more time to get ready for this fight; to adjust to fighting a taller guy. I had four weeks of sparring and it was tough – I got some class tall guys in to work with. Any time you are used to being the taller guy in a fight and then you have to face a guy taller than you, it really changes everything. I wish Wilder all the best, but he may have trouble making that adjustment himself when he faces Klitschko, who is as tall as he is, or [Tyson] Fury and [Anthony] Joshua, who are even taller than he is. It could be tough for him. This was my first time against a taller guy and it really makes a huge difference.”

Q: Talking about Wilder against Wladimir Klitschko, how much of a chance do you give Wilder?

E.M: “He’s got a great chance. He can punch. Whenever you can punch like he can, he’s got a great chance. The main thing is how he will adjust to facing a guy as tall, or taller, than he is. Those fights, they will tell us if Wilder can be a great champion or just a good champion.”

Q: Would you be interested in fighting Anthony Joshua?

E.M: “It would be a real honour to fight over there [in the UK] one day, and I thank  you guys for the interviews. I look forward to being involved in more exciting, big fights.”