by David P. Greisman
John Molina’s win over Ruslan Provodnikov this past June vaulted him back into contention not long after suffering three straight defeats. The WBA ranks him No. 2. The WBC and WBO have him at No. 3. The IBF has him at No. 12.
“I think I have unfinished business. I definitely want that title,” Molina told BoxingScene.com. “We definitely know there’s one kingpin at 140 right now.”
That kingpin, as he put it, is Terence Crawford, who had the WBO belt and then added the WBC with an easy decision over Viktor Postol earlier this year. The other two titleholders are Ricky Burns (WBA) and Eduard Troyanovsky (IBF).
“With all due respect to them, I don’t believe Ricky Burns has fought at that elite level lately. I don’t believe he’s fought opposition that is up to the bar for world championship status,” Molina said, before adding that he doesn’t know much about Troyanovsky.
His preference is Crawford.
“There’s only one kingpin in my mind that I can do a one-stop shop with, be a unified champion with the WBO, WBC and Ring Magazine [titles],” Molina said. “For whatever reason, I really think the Ring Magazine is a prestigious belt. I’d really enjoy that belt. That’s definitely one I want.
“I think Terence Crawford is a very talented fighter,” he said. “He’s done everything he was supposed to do. He’s beaten the guys that he was supposed to.”
Molina recalled when Crawford first burst onto the scene, stepping in as a late replacement opponent after Khabib Allakhverdiev got injured, taking on Breidis Prescott and winning a fight televised on HBO.
“At that point, Prescott is a very limited fighter, as people would say about myself, but a big puncher nonetheless and definitely a risky fight. I think it was a calculated move, going up to get his name known,” Molina said. “Really, Prescott’s big claim to fame was when he upset Amir Khan at 135. If you go to the books, if you will, after he fought Crawford, Prescott has been 3-3 with very limited opposition. It was the right time. I guess all the ducks were in order for Crawford.
“Every fight that Crawford has fought since that fight and he’s been known, I don’t believe anyone ever gave him some real resistance, and the only guy that gave him a little bit of resistance was about three weight divisions out of his weight class [Yuriorkis Gamboa]. It turned out to be a great fight and Terence Crawford got the job done. Gamboa gave him a couple of hiccups, if you will,” Molina said.
Molina wants to make it clear that he’s not taking anything away from Crawford.
“He was fighter of the year for a good reason. He’s a world champion,” Molina said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Viktor Postol, but I think [Crawford] beat a limited Postol. I wasn’t too high up on Postol. I think the stage was set and the stars were aligned for [Postol] to beat [Lucas] Matthysse that night [in 2015, when Matthysse stayed on his knee after being dropped and hurt by Postol]. He was a great fighter and a great technician and was a great champion, but I personally believe Matthysse had more [reason] to stop fighting in my fight than he did with Postol.”
Molina thinks he could beat Crawford, even while acknowledging Crawford’s attributes.
“He’s a great fighter. He’s very talented. He knows how to adjust. As you can see, it always seems like he starts off slow, and that’s because he’s a very smart fighter. He reads the guys and tries to get the rhythm, if you will, and takes over from there,” Molina said. “I don’t want to reveal my cards too much. I want to keep them close to my chest. With that being said, I believe a fight between myself and Crawford would be one that the fans are definitely going to enjoy, an intriguing match and one that I definitely can be victorious in.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]