by Cliff Rold
Jr. Middleweight contender Carlos Molina has four losses. Featured on the undercard this of Erik Morales-Danny Garcia this weekend, he’ll be seen by most as the underdog against all-action banger James Kirkland (30-1, 27 KO).
But that underdog status is live. His four losses are there but what matters, what makes him live, are the ten wins against a single draw in his last eleven starts.
Sure, Molina lost some fights. Then he got better. This weekend, he has a chance to show how much better.
The 28-year old Molina (19-4-1, 6 KO) is boxing’s latest example of a fighter who, without early promotional and managerial protection, without a deep reservoir of amateur accomplishment, has become a professional fighter the old fashioned way. He’s a model for the value of hard work, adjustment, and improvement through experience.
He’s a model for losing as a good thing.
It’s not the case for every fighter. Some are good enough from the gate to go years without tasting defeat. Most are not. In boxing’s seventeen weight classes, there are a number of people who reign as outright or simply belted champions without defeat. Those without a “0” beside their name outnumber them.
Some of those men lost after they’d won titles. Others took a loss or four along the way. Molina has yet to reach the status of a major title. A win over Kirkland would have him well positioned to get a shot. That’s a far cry from where he was in February 2007.
Suffering a close eight round points defeat to currently still undefeated Jr. Welterweight contender Mike Alvarado, Molina notched the fourth “L” of his paid tenure and third points loss in a row. All of those defeats came to men who were undefeated at the time. Two, Alvarado and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., still are. The Chavez loss came after a narrow draw in a first fight; the second was close as well. His only other defeat was a split nod in his third pro fight.
Molina wasn’t fortunate on the cards. He didn’t give up and is the better for it. In his last eleven fights, he earned a draw with former Cuban Olympian Erislandy Lara that many thought he could have won. In his last contest, he walked over former Welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron. Whether he wins or loses this weekend, his growth is commendable.
Some might look at it as old-fashioned. To be sure, young fighters losing on the way up was more the norm in another time. Most of the black-and-white greats history honors took their lumps back in the day. Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, and Henry Armstrong are all easy examples.
It doesn’t mean it’s still not a vital part of the game. Look just across the ring from Molina this weekend. Kirkland got back much of the buzz he had before a prison stint in a war with Alfredo Angulo last year. What made it all the more dramatic was Kirkland being stopped earlier in 2011, in one right, by Nobuhiro Ishida. Kirkland, like Molina, has yet to reach the promised land of a title shot.
They both have contemporary role models to look to for inspiration. The history books need not have their dust blown asunder.
Manny Pacquiao and Rafael Marquez both suffered knockout losses early in their careers. Both are headed to the Hall of Fame with plenty of belts in the trophy case. Featherweight Orlando Salido reigns today as a WBO titlist; it’s his second major title and, but for a pop for performance enhancing drugs, he could claim three.
Salido has eleven defeats.
Wladimir Klitschko suffered a stoppage defeat before winning his first Heavyweight belt. David Haye was knocked out on the way up and went on to win titles at Cruiser and Heavyweight. Amir Khan rose from a first round shelling to unify a pair of belts at Jr. Welterweight. Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka had to fall short in four shots at Veraphol Sahaprom’s Bantamweight title before emerging as today’s best Jr. Featherweight.
There are others. The point is fairly made. While there might be an obsession in some corners with undefeated marks, being undefeated is not the only path to opportunity. Molina, and Kirkland, are where they are because, despite defeat, they have taken advantage of the chances that came afterwards and excelled.
Maybe one, or both, will one day experience the accolades of their peers. Maybe not. That their fate lies in their fists is all they can ask.
Boxing is a tough business. Somebody has to lose, but defeat is no death sentence. Sometimes it’s just a starting place. Learning from defeat, and continuing swing, is where many of the best fistic memories are born.
The Weekly Ledger
But wait, there’s more…
Holt Cracks Coleman: http://www.boxingscene.com/kendall-holt-demolishes-coleman-praises-roy-jones-jr--50700
Martinez Reigns On: http://www.boxingscene.com/martinez-remains-waits-review-ratings-update--50784
Updated Division Ratings: http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/view.php?pg=boxing-ratings
Picks of the Week: http://www.boxingscene.com/boxingscenecoms-television-picks-week--50863
Cliff’s Notes… Mikkel Kessler might fight for a WBC Silver title? In a division he hasn’t been competing in? Against Allan Green? It’s all punch line, all the time, with ol’ Sillyman…The New York press must be breaking out the Jergens in anticipation of Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow…Toshiaki Nishioka may only want Nonito Donaire, but Top Rank doesn’t appear in a hurry to make the fight. Shocking…Juan Manuel Lopez is taking way too much grief for something he said just minutes after a brutal knockout loss. Judges and referees can hype piles of manure on the sport repeatedly (think about what’s occurred just this year) but it’s a fighter, who gave all he had, who gets a bunch of grief. He said he was sorry when he collected his thoughts after the loss to Orlando Salido. If the referee he besmirched has beef, let him work it out how he sees fit. For the rest of boxing’s loose governance to get involved is absurd.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]