OK sports fans be prepared to switch channels in tandem tomorrow night in pursuit of witnessing two “Molina’s” challenge for titles in their respective divisions. Both HBO and Showtime will be wagging war of their own for viewership and control of year end boxing ratings. Hopefully the 65 minute time differential will allow fans easy access to both bouts.
Let’s tackle the big men first. Showtime will be televising the IBF Heavyweight title clash on December 10 at 5:30 PM EST. The disparity in abilities makes this more a clash of styles and physiques more than a clash of titans. Anthony Joshua of Britain will be making the second defense of his title. How we arrived here is a sorted chain of karma events that unfolded rapidly this fall. Tyson Fury pulled out of scheduled rematch of former champ Wlad Klitschko with a reported injury for a second time. It was later revealed the giant was suffering from depression, not training and failed two drug tests.
He would have been stripped of his belts but elected to vacate in hopes of preserving a future for his pathetic career. Wlad in turn held the promotion hostage before signing to fight Joshua on same date. The ex-champion was looking for WBA title to be thrown into the pot as well. Klitschko was hoping to regain all belts lost to Fury in what was saddest fight of last year where Fury literally mugged the long reigning champion with a toy pistol and bad manners. Stop laughing, I am not exaggerating. It gets funnier as Wlad once again injured his 40 year old calf muscle and had to withdraw also. On limited time frame to sign an opponent and promote it American Eric Molina stepped into the challenger shoes predicated on a good win over highly respected Tomasz Adamek in his last bout stopping him in 10.
The blown up cruiserweight looks unsightly once north of the 190 pound border especially in contrast to the Michelangelo inspired torso of the champion. His entire body looks to be chiseled in granite.
The particulars. Molina stands 6’4” with a non- threatening reach of 79 inches. His record stands at 25-3, 19 KO’s. While it is no sin to lose in your pro debut, (usually bad case of nerves or no management) he was taken out in one round back in 2012 by Chris Arreola. In June of last year he was stopped by Deontay Wilder in nine entertaining rounds of action. Built like a modern version of eighties partial belt holder John Ruiz, Molina who fights in same fashion exposed Wilders porous defense. Third round he staggered the champion with a left hook as Deontay holds his guard around his waist and leads with his chin. The champion flailed about like a fresh caught tuna on fishing boat. He survived but any novice who reviews the fight will see he has no boxing ability at all beyond God-given gifts of height, reach and power. If Molina was title worthy the belt would have changed hands that night but he was unable to capitalize.
Joshua boasts a perfect 17-0, 17 KO’s. Standing 6’6” the perfectly balanced boxer with an 82” reach will inch forward behind a jab that will predicate exactly how long this fight lasts. While his massive shoulder is ample defense for left side of chin when he throws jab it can also leave him open to right hand counters if he only paws with it allowing it to drop to chest level. In his first defense of title Anthony started out very cautious and the pawing jab used as a range finder could have been countered by a better challenger. If Molina has any chance at all he needs to get inside the pocket early and expose that flaw. If you see Joshua snapping a Liston-like heavy Jab that he is capable of at first bell is an excellent indicator that he means business and isn’t looking to get rounds in, only the victory. His first title defense went 7 rounds before finishing off Dominic Breazeale last June. His slow methodical style that night kept him safe from counters as he established the pace he wanted and never veered from it or took unnecessary chances. Some were disappointed in seven rounds but I believe the fans are expecting too much, too early from this talented champion.
Prediction: The champion will look to establish range first, then the jab. If at any time he senses he has staggered Eric he will move in to hurt him. This is one contender where he will not feel the need to walk his man down and simply picks his shots and moments. The champion will make his power felt early and begin hurting his man as early as the second round. It will quickly look like the challenger entered the wrong bar and someone signed him up for a “he-man” contest. Third round Molina number one gets stopped or fails to answer bell for round four. Hopefully the promoter will have Wlad primed, and signed for March in a more compelling bout.
Onward to Molina number two and the safer bet where the more entertaining fight will unfold. HBO will televise Pound for pound candidate Terence Crawford’s defense against worthy challenger John Molina for Crawford’s WBC and WBO Jr. Welterweight titles at 9:35 p.m.
Terence known as “Bud” to family and friends hails from Omaha Nebraska and will be enjoying home town advantage but that will not play out into the mechanics of fight nor the scoring. His opponent John “the Gladiator” Molina Jr. (got to love that nickname) is a worthy challenger who will be a 5 to 1 underdog.
The champion who is coming off a title unification bout where he lifted the WBC hardware from Viktor Postol in a twelve round decision this past July. Crawford and aiming for a go at Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title this spring and is considered by boxing writers to be in the top five of the mythical pound for pound best of today’s champions.
The particulars. Crawford stands 5’8” and sports a perfect record of 29-0, 20 KO’s. His 29 year old frame comfortably holds a middleweights body and must get down to 140 pounds at weigh in for every defense. He has established himself as a master boxer who creates angles and beats his foes with timing and distance. He has perfect ring acumen and knows when to excel power in a fight enabling it to transcend the next level. His challenger was recently rumored to have secured a Welterweight shot at WBC champion Danny Garcia. Before bout was signed the internet was amok with disappointed fans and writers expressing a severe mismatch. Yours truly believes that John actually could hold the extra seven pounds better than Danny and was looking forward to seeing Garcia tested by a taller foe with longer reach and sturdy chin. As luck would have it, Both Bob Arum and HBO needed to fill a dance card on the date that WBA interim middleweight Daniel Jacobs’s refused mandated orders to fight real champion Gennady Golovkin. The opening presented an opportunity for Crawford to make third televised defense this year as well as keeping Molina in the loop for a high profile fight. Molina stands 5”10 and a half inches and owns a one inch reach advantage at 71 inches. At 33 and coming off an impressive win over former champ Ruslan Prodvodnikov he is as close to peak as he’ll ever be. His record of 29-6, 23 KO’s has been a testament to the type of fighter he is. He beats most until the opposition rises to the higher echelon and then fails to ascend with his competition.
What to look for: The challenger holds an advantage of height and reach but that simply won’t be enough to cross the finish line in the same vain it has kept Deontay Wilder undefeated. He must try to land his power shots from outside and keep the champion at furthest inch of pocket. All main event fighters tomorrow will fight from Orthodox stance so Crawford won’t need rounds to figure him out. Terence is a master of changing directions of a combination in mid-flurry as an opponent attempts to exit pocket on either side of gate. Its tell-tale moments like that which usually turn the fight completely in his favor. I can honestly say they are evenly matched for power but Crawford’s accuracy breaks the standoff.
While the heavyweight bout’s odds are off the boards this looks to be a good scarp. This scribe is predicting a Crawford win by stoppage in 9 or 10 rounds. Should the challenger hear the score cards read it will have more to do with Crawford allowing the championships rounds to play out rather than Molina earning it. That is too say in winning his title unification match this summer, Crawford uncharacteristically didn’t go in for the proverbial kill as he had built his reputation and resume on but elected to coast when it was painfully obvious a stoppage was just one furious flurry away. There was no reported injury post-fight like a fractured hand to indicate why Crawford let Postol off the hook.
Coming off the stench of horrible decision last month in light heavyweight clash of greats this Saturday provides fans with almost guaranteed stoppages relieving judges of reveling their paper work. Internet rumors have been swirling around for weeks that early judge picks for Andre Ward / Sergey Kovalev rematch have Andre Bocceli, Jose’ Feliciano and Stevie Wonder as shoe-ins. Stop laughing, I’m not even at club yet and still drinking coffee.
Next week brings a close to boxing year as well as future hall of famer Bernard Hopkins storied career as he takes on the power punching threat of Joe Smith, JR. Bhop who is close to blowing out 52 candles has decided to beguile us one last time before hanging up the leather for good. Thank God he is a promotional partner at Golden Boy Productions and a voice on Jim Lampley’s “The Fight Game.” He just has too much to offer the game to simply be a spectator. Keep an eye out this week for my in-depth coverage of fight.
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