by Francisco Salazar
It is easy to kick a fighter while he is down and out.
The knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez last month demonstrated that as fight fans were quick to photo shop Pacquiao on the canvas with a lame catchphrase.
Lightweight John Molina was not brutally knocked out by Antonio DeMarco on September 8th at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. In fact, Molina was not even knocked off his feet.
Still, Molina was considered by some experts as a fighter with power in his hands, but limited boxing ability. Some even questioned whether he had done enough to even earn a world title opportunity against DeMarco.
While Molina disagreed with the stoppage, he has decided to move on, aiming toward another opportunity to return to that upper echelon level and fulfill that goal which every fighter dreams of; winning championship gold.
Molina will attempt to get back to the level, but Dannie Williams stands in his way. Both will square off in a scheduled 10 round lightweight bout at the Indian School in Santa Fe, NM. The bout will headline an ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” card, presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions, in association with DiBella Entertainment and Rumble Time Promotions.
Over a month after the loss to DeMarco, Molina announced that he acquired the services of famed trainer Robert Garcia. Molina made the trip up the 101 Freeway from his home in Covina to Oxnard, where Garcia’s gym is located.
With so many fighters that are eager to be trained by the former IBF junior lightweight champion, Garcia has had to limit who he works with.
Garcia had no problems working with Molina, even though he trains unbeaten Brandon Rios. Molina and Rios were mentioned as possibly fighting one another last year, but the fight never materialized.
“At first I was a little apprehensive, but business is business,” said Molina, who is promoted by Goossen Tutor. “However, everyone in Oxnard has been super nice to me and accepted me with open arms. It’s a great atmosphere in Robert’s gym and I’ve had a great experience there and have had great sparring.”
Although Molina (24-2, 19 KOs) has utilized a few trainers throughout his career, including Ben Lira and Joe Goossen, he believes the choice he made with Garcia is the wise thus far.
“Robert has a good hold of my style that will make me a much better fighter,” the 30 year old boxer told Boxingscene.com earlier this week by phone.
“John has tremendous power and it’s a perfect style to work with,” said Garcia, who was recently named 2012 Trainer of the Year by numerous media outlets. “We have had to work on shortening up his punches because he used to be very wide with them. I want him to use his jab more and to throw more right hands down the middle. It’s taking a little longer than I anticipated, but I’m patient and he’s patient. It will work out.”
The Molina-Williams match up figures to be an action bout between the two hard-hitting lightweights. One has to wonder which of the two fighters has the better chin.
While he respects the punching power of Williams, Molina believes that he will come out victorious tonight.
“I know that he (Williams) is going to be a tough nut to crack. However, I feel that I have the experience, the talent, and the strength to beat him. He has a lot of knockouts, but against sub par opposition. The fact that I have Robert in my corner is a big plus for me as well.”
Molina has primarily fought as a lightweight throughout his entire career that has spanned almost seven years. While he is angling toward a world title opportunity against Miguel Vazquez or Ricky Burns should he defeat Williams, he is hoping it happens sooner than later in 2013.
At almost 5’11”, Molina has admitted in previous fights that it is a struggle to make 135 pounds. That is why he is also seriously contemplating moving up and campaigning in the deep 140-pound division.
“Bigger and better awaits me after this fight. If I can’t land a world title bout, I could move up and fight at 140 pounds, where I think I possess more power. A lot of 140 pound fighters fight on these major networks and there are a lot of lucrative bouts that can be made.”
“First things first, I have to handle business on Friday night. We’ll look to push for a world title bout at 135 pounds, but I have the option of 140 pounds later this year.”
While fighters make sacrifices in the name of success, Molina has had to make just a little bit more than others would have to. He has been away from his newborn daughter who was born on November 15th. His 30th birthday was two weeks ago, where one would imagine there was little to celebrate in anticipation of a big fight.
As experts and fans are quick to dismiss fighters after a difficult defeat like the one suffered by Molina, fighters could gain a great deal of experience to bounce back. Molina may have suffered a bump or scrape while he was down, but it would all be worth it once he straps championship gold around his waist.
Whether at 135 or 140 pounds, Molina figures to make noise, even with Garcia in his corner. He can not wait for 2013 to be good to him after a rough ending to 2012.