By Keith Idec
Conventional wisdom would indicate that John Molina Jr.’s best chance – his only chance, really – to upset Terence Crawford would be to bait Crawford into a brawl Saturday night.
That type of fight could favor Molina, whose renowned power is perhaps his only advantage over the reigning WBC/WBO super lightweight champion. Crawford probably is too smart to be lured into such a slugfest, but the undefeated favorite has shown in many of his fights that he isn’t reluctant to trade punches.
Maybe that’s why Sam Watson – a confidante of Molina’s adviser, Al Haymon – and Molina’s trainer, Shadeed Suluki, predicted Thursday during a press conference that Crawford-Molina will “be a war.” Or maybe it was wishful thinking.
“It’s gonna be a good fight,” Suluki said. “We’re ready. We’re prepared, had a very good camp. It’s gonna be a different John Molina come Saturday night. It’s gonna be a good one. It’s gonna be a war, and that’s what everybody wanna see. It’s gonna be a boxer, then you got a warrior. And we’re gonna see who’s gonna be able to impose their will. That’s who’s gonna win that night.”
The 33-year-old Molina (29-6, 23 KOs), a 14-1 underdog according to most sports books, was very respectful of Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) in advance of their HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event at CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford’s hometown.
“He’s done well for the city [of Omaha],” Molina said. “He’s an honorable champion, a great champion, and highly touted for good reason. Our job is to go and disrupt that on December 10th, Saturday. We trained well, and if we didn’t, I wouldn’t tell you. … We prepared well. Terence is a unique champion. I don’t like to compare him to anybody because he’s very special in that way. But with that being said, we are prepared for the best version of Terence Crawford. And a fight is what everyone’s gonna get. And I believe the Omaha fans are gonna be very thankful for that night – for the fight and the action they’re gonna get December 10th.”
Crawford-Molina will headline HBO’s tripleheader, set to begin at 9:35 p.m. ET/PT.
The telecast will start with a recorded fight that concluded earlier today, with New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (21-0, 18 KOs) versus American Andy Ruiz (29-0, 19 KOs) for the vacant WBO world heavyweight title. After Parker-Ruiz, which will contested in Auckland, New Zealand, HBO’s live action will shift to Omaha for a 10-round lightweight encounter – Phoenix’s Ray Beltran (31-7-1, 19 KOs, 1 NC) against Mason Menard (32-1, 24 KOs), of Rayne, Louisiana.
Menard was a late replacement for former lightweight champion Juan Diaz (42-4, 21 KOs), who battled neck and back injuries during training camp. Menard officially replaced Diaz less than three weeks before this fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.