By Keith Idec
The prevailing feeling is that if John Molina Jr. is to pull off an upset Saturday night, the hard-punching contender must catch Terence Crawford with a clean shot and knock him out.
The undefeated Crawford’s diverse skill set has made him a heavy favorite in their 12-round fight for Crawford’s WBC and WBO super lightweight titles at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Nevertheless, Molina is confident he can win a decision in Crawford’s hometown.
When asked by BoxingScene.com if he feels he has to win by knockout, Molina replied, “No, not at all. I believe in the judges here. I think everything’s gonna be an even playing field, and we’re gonna get the job done. Even if it’s in his hometown or his backyard or wherever, it don’t matter where the fight’s at. At the end of the day, it’s gonna be me and him in the ring.”
Chicago’s Robert Hecko, Levi Martinez, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and David Sutherland, of Skiatook, Oklahoma, are the three judges who’ve been assigned to work the Crawford-Molina match. Mark Nelson, of Maplewood, Minnesota, will be the referee.
None of Crawford’s first three HBO bouts in Omaha have ended amid any controversy. Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) stopped Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa in the ninth round of their June 2014 fight, soundly defeated Phoenix’s Ray Beltran by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder two years ago and stopped Montreal’s Dierry Jean in the 10th round 13 months ago.
Molina (29-6, 23 KOs), of Covina, California, feels he has entered a situation somewhat similar to that of his last bout. He was an underdog entering his June 11 fight against Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov (25-5, 18 KOs) as well, but beat the “house fighter” by unanimous decision in their 12-round, 140-pound fight at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Molina admits Crawford – a versatile boxer-puncher with a high ring IQ – is a much different fighter from the rugged, powerful Provodnikov. He still expects to leave CenturyLink Center victorious.
“It’s not my first rodeo,” said Molina, who has won one 12-round decision in his 10-year pro career (against Provodnikov). “My last fight with Provodnikov, which I’m sure [people] bet against me, I went into the lion’s den, in Artie Pelullo’s backyard – his promotional company, his Showtime debut – and took care of business. I did it on numerous occasions and I plan on doing it again.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.