CARSON - Junior welterweight contender Javier Molina is not known for knockout power, but he made a statement to the rest of the division Saturday night.
Molina dropped Hiroki Okada twice in the opening round to win by knockout before a stunned and partisan crowd at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly known as the StubHub Center).
With the victory, Molina improves to 21-2, 9 knockouts.
Molina, who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk, entered the Okada fight having won his previous three fights since a decision loss to Jamal James in January of 2016. Okada had not fought since losing by knockout to Ray Beltran on Feb. 10.
Molina began trading with Okada from the opening bell. A right hand to the head dropped Okada to the canvas and after getting up from the knockdown, Molina went in for the kill. Molina pinned the Japanese fighter in a corner, where he unleashed a right cross that dropped him to the canvas a second time.
Referee Raul Caiz, Sr. immediately stopped the bout at 1:05.
Molina has breathed new life into his career, especially in his last three bouts, which have been fought on Top Rank cards. He hopes to face any of the top fighters at 140 pounds.
"This is just the beginning for us," said Molina, who is the twin brother of Oscar Molina and the younger brother of Carlos Molina. "He's been in tough fights. He was knocked out by Ray Beltran in nine rounds. We did it in the opening round. I want whoever is next. We want to fight for a world title."
Okada drops to 19-2, 13 KOs.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing