LAS VEGAS – A 20-year-old junior welterweight prospect promoted by Canelo Alvarez nearly knocked off another undefeated fighter on the Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin undercard Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
Fernando Molina dropped Aaron Aponte late in the fifth round and came on strong throughout the second half of their eight-round, 140-pound bout. Guadalajara’s Molina settled for a split draw, though, as only one of the judges scored their back-and-forth fight for him.
Judge Ricardo Ocasio scored Molina a 76-74 winner, but judge Chris Migliore scored the action 76-74 for Aponte. Judge Don Trella scored their competitive clash a draw, 75-75.
The 21-year-old Aponte (6-0-1, 2 KOs), of Hialeah, Florida, also sent Molina (8-0-1, 3 KOs) to the canvas late in the second round.
Aponte appeared tired in the later rounds, but Molina couldn’t capitalize on the knockdown he produced late in the fifth round. Molina looked for the knockout in the final round, when Aponte mostly boxed off his back foot.
Molina landed a right hand in exchange 40 seconds into the eighth round and smiled at Aponte. A hard right hand to the side of Aponte’s head rocked him at the midway mark of the final round.
They then traded flush punches in multiple exchanges over the final 30 seconds of their fight.
An issue with Molina’s left glove caused a break in the action 1:15 into the seventh round. Once his trainer placed tape on part of Molina’s glove, he resumed landing the harder, cleaner punches on Aponte.
An aggressive Molina nailed Aponte with a straight right hand barely 1:20 into the sixth round.
Molina’s vicious right uppercut and then a right to the side of Aponte’s head sent him to the canvas awkwardly with 22 seconds on the clock in the fifth round. Aponte got to his feet, though, and made it to the bell to end the fifth round.
Molina made Aponte move away from him a minute into the fifth round after Molina landed several punches on the inside.
An accidental clash of heads made Hoyle call for a brief break in the action a minute into the fourth round. Aponte drilled Molina with a right hand about 1:15 into the fourth round, but that shot only made Molina fight harder.
After suffering a knockdown late in the second round, Molina came out aggressive to start the third round. He paid at times for that aggression, as Aponte landed several flush right hands and left hooks in that round.
Aponte caught Molina with an overhand right about 55 seconds into the second round. An overhand right by Molina landed in an exchange with just under 1:15 to go in the second round.
Less than 30 seconds late, Molina landed a left hook as Aponte pressed forward.
Molina went down with 25 seconds remaining in the second round. Hoyle counted it as a knockdown, but Molina argue it was the consequence of their legs getting tangled.
Aponte caught Molina with a left hook on the inside nearly 1:20 into the opening round. A counter left hook by Aponte landed with just over 20 seconds on the clock in the first round as well.
In the first fight on the undercard Saturday, Anthony Herrera defeated Devin McKinley by technical decision.
McKinley couldn’t continue after an accidental clash of heads caused him to take a knee early in the sixth round. Referee Celestino Ruiz halted the action 19 seconds into the final round of their six-round super flyweight fight.
Los Angeles’ Herrera (3-0-1, 2 KOs) was ahead by the same score, 50-45, on all three scorecards through five rounds. New Orleans’ McKinley slipped to 4-4-1 (4 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.