Deontay Wilder is the New King of Alabama

Last night was a big risk; an actual title fight in the state of Alabama. Who would have ever thought? A state consumed over one sport was seemingly, all of a sudden, hosting a heavyweight title fight. Well, it didn’t disappoint. A little over 9,000 fans packed Bartow Arena in Birmingham to see Deontay Wilder defend his WBC belt against Eric Molina.

Jun 13, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; Deontay Wilder reacts after knocking Eric Molina to the ground during the WBC Championship fight at Bartow Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Even though it’s not quite the capacity compared to a football game in Bryant-Denny Stadium, there was an electric feel throughout the arena. From the deafening cheers when Wilder was announced to the “Roll Tide Roll” chants during Sweet Home Alabama, it was clear Birmingham provided enough of a hometown feel. What also became clear tonight, the state has truly embraced Deontay Wilder.

Living in Alabama, fans who have kept up with his career have kind of lived in a little bubble. While it’s fun to talk about having a big time boxing champion from Tuscaloosa, in a broader scope, Wilder isn’t just representing his hometown folk, but the entire country.

When Wilder defeated Bermane Stiverne back in January, that victory was the first time an American held the belt in nearly a decade. For the first time in years, the United States finally had someone to support. Sure, there have been plenty of boxers over the years to cheer for but Wilder is a totally different animal. Crazy body size, exciting style of boxing, big personality, a heart-warming story, and has already represented his country on the biggest stage. It’s hard to draw it up any better.

Jun 13, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; Deontay Wilder hits Eric Molina during the WBC Championship at Bartow Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting at 34-0, with 33 knockouts, the path for Wilder gets a bit more interesting. While his next fight, apparently in September, could either be a nice match-up or another Molina type, more and more fans keeps looking down the road to Wladimir Klitschko. Why not? The big Russian owns every belt that Wilder doesn’t hold and Wilder is looking to be the next big thing in the sport dying for someone to save it.

Regardless of the questions pertaining to the future, fans did learn a lot tonight. The state of Alabama is a very real part of the boxing world and boxing’s new face may just be this Tuscaloosa local. It’s no secret Alabama is all about their sports, mainly in the college rankings. However, with a pro athlete like Wilder, and what everyone likes, a winner, look for the homefield advantage to grow even more for the hometown champion. The term “Title Town” can no longer just be used for football when you have a world heavyweight champion in your midst – embrace the change. Embrace this new kind of excitement. Embrace the Bronze Bomber because he’s here to stay.