(Amir Khan gives Carlos Molina an uppercut; photo: Tom Casino, Showtime)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Saturday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Showtime Championship Boxing, Carlos Molina fought like a guy in search of that Cinderella moment, similar to the one Josesito Lopez found in his shock victory against Victor Ortiz in June.
Alas, the glass slipper didn't quite fit Molina. With blood seeping into his eye from almost the opening bell, Molina acquitted himself well en route to a 10th round stoppage loss against a comebacking Amir Khan in front of 6,109 fans. With the win, Khan put a stop to his two bout losing streak in his first fight under the guidance of renowned trainer Virgil Hunter.
In the opening round, Khan showed more control than in previous bouts, as he pushed Molina back with combinations but didn't allow himself to be lured into a firefight the way the Khan of old often did. Molina was cut over his left eye in the opening minute of the fight.
In the 2nd, Khan landed a blistering 1-2 that Molina absorbed very well for a guy moving up in weight and opposition. Khan landed a quality three-punch combination that saw Molina surprisingly come back and land a number of power shots of his own, which seemed to cause Khan to pause for a moment. Molina showed in those opening few rounds that he came to win and not to lie down.
Molina, who had never previously fought a top 25 fighter in his weight class, stepped up to the plate and fought surprisingly well against a legitimate top 10 junior welterweight, despite campaigning at lightweight in previous bouts.
In the 4th, Khan more or less bludgeoned Molina, unleashing a seven or eight punch combination at lightning speed as he had him against the ropes. An uppercut on the inside had Molina in retreat for a bit, and Khan exploded on the attack. Molina took the assault surprisingly well, and later was able to rally a bit and land some of his own on the inside. The fight resembled the early goings of Ortiz's bout with Lopez. Like Ortiz, Molina was able to land a big shot here and there.
Though Molina had no trouble tagging Khan with his Sunday best here and there, there wasn't a sense of danger the way there was when Khan fought the likes of Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson and Marcos Maidana.
After the bout got to the halfway mark, Khan fought in a way that showed he was content to go the distance and win a shutout. While that is probably exactly what his trainer Virgil Hunter wanted to see, fans that were counting on a knockout left disappointed.
After the 9th round, referee Jack Reiss went to the corner of Molina and had a long conversation and the message looked like “One more round.” Though Molina went out and fought valiantly in the 10th, landing a number of quality shots to the body, he was still outclassed. At the conclusion of the round, Reiss walked to the corner and after a very brief interaction, called the fight over.
Amir Khan earned a stoppage victory, but what will happen when he faces another venerable puncher? He showed he can still be tagged ever so cleanly on the chin, so what happens when he fights a guy in his own weight division?
We will have to wait until 2013 to find out the answers to those questions, but Khan ended a bad 2012 in the win column, which was really all he and his team were after.
On the undercard, olympic heavyweight bronze medalist Deontay Wilder faced his biggest perceived test, going against unbeaten Kelvin Price in the scheduled ten-round co-feature.
Price fought defensively early on, using his legs and head movement to setup counters, which came few and far between as Wilder pressed the fight and landed at a more regular clip.
The end came in the 3rd, as Wilder landed a right hand behind a jab, sending Price down in a heap. Price tried his best to sturdy himself to his feet, but was unable to, prompting referee Ray Corona to stop the fight at 51 seconds of the round.
Talking with TQBR following the win, Wilder believes 2013 will be his year.
“Deontay Wilder in 2013, it has all been confirmed, it has all been signed, sealed, delivered, this one was just a stepping stone for me here until 2013,” said Wilder following the win.
Earlier this year, Main Events, the promotional company behind Bryant Jennings, the other unbeaten young promising American heavyweight, issued a challenge for Wilder to fight their guy on an NBC Sports broadcast, though the purse left something to be desired.
“I want that fight, the fans want that fight, and I think Bryant wants it,” said Wilder when asked if it is something that could happen next year. “They knew I had this fight coming up and I think it was just a publicity stunt on their part to call me out.”
When asked if he saw Jennings' fight last weekend, in which he climbed off the canvas to stop Bowie Tupou with a single uppercut, Wilder didn't seem very impressed.
“I feel the same way that Tupou said. Tupou said there wasn't something that special about him, I would have beaten both of them on the same night.”
“We all feel it is time, I'm the last hope and I'm the main focus. It is my time,” said Wilder in regards to being the American hope. “We want a big network and the money to be worth it, but then we will get it on. We are doing the right thing by building it the way we are building it. My grandma would fight if the money were right. I WANT Jennings, the fans want Jennings. I want him.”
Alfredo Angulo had no problem dispatching his first opponent following a long layoff due to internment at an immigration detention center. Tonight, his second assignment, Jorge Silva, proved to be much more formidable, hurting Angulo several times the ten round course of their junior middleweight bout.
It was Silva who had more snap on his punches throughout, not Angulo. Angulo may have been landing at a more accurate clip, but it was actually the unheralded and unknown Silva who was moving his opponent backwards, and more often than Angulo's team would have liked.
There were many exciting exchanges, but in the 10th and final round both guys went for it, with Angulo pressing Silva against the ropes and trading bombs for nearly the entire duration of the round. Silva did pretty well countering off the ropes with hard shots, but Angulo didn't let his determination wane, as he let off a crazy number of shots to the head and body that had Silva in trouble for the first time in the bout.
Angulo earned the nod on all three scorecards 97-93, though the ferocity of the bout suggested that he isn't ready for a step up quite as soon as Golden Boy Promotions probably hoped. He should probably stick to gatekeeper level fighters for at least a few more fights so that whatever recently acquired trainer Hunter has taught him will have more time to stick. He still got hit a ton for a guy who is working with a defensive wizard of a trainer.
On the Showtime Extreme portion of the marathon night of boxin, unbeaten welterweight Shawn Porter of Cleveland, Ohio faced a much tougher challenge than he probably anticipated as he scraped by Coachella, Calif. former lightweight beltholder Julio Diaz by the skin of his teeth with a split-decision draw.
In the opening few rounds, Porter seemed hesitant to exchange and with a slowed pace, Diaz's veteran tactics proved problematic. The first round was tight but Diaz clearly won the 2nd, countering effectively against the anxious Porter. Porter opened up a tad more in the 3rd, ultimately popping Diaz with a hard shot right before the bell, grabbing the veteran's attention.
Diaz countered brilliantly in the 4th, and seemingly buckled Porter with a hard right hand midway through. Diaz later got into an exchange with Porter and managed to land the much better shot, which was a surprise to many who felt Diaz was a shot fighter after Kendall Holt vanquished him last year on an ESPN2 card.
In the 5th, Porter tried using his superior athleticism to his advantage, as his fast footwork and handspeed gave Diaz a difficult time trying to find him. Porter didn't have a very high punch output, however, giving Diaz an opportunity to make an impression with his aggression. Round 5 was fought on pretty much even terms; Diaz countered well but Porter stepped up his volume, landing some solid combinations. Diaz's commitment to the body helped keep him in the fight, as he slowed his much younger opponent down. Despite this being two divisions higher than his best weight, Diaz had no qualms in trading power shot for power shot with his more natural 147 pound opponent, and that fearlessness aided him.
The elder statesmen Diaz (who is only 32 but is finishing his 13th year as a professional) managed to look the fresher fighter in the 7th and 8th, which is probably due to the investment he made in body punching early in the fight. Porter fought with no sense of urgency, likely knowing that the closeness of the fight was going to favor him on the scorecards. Diaz was the aggressor throughout though, and that didn't stop in the final salvo. Things really heated up in the final 20 seconds with both guys opening up with no pretense of defense. Diaz, for what it is worth, looked the better at the end.
The judges scores were 96-94 each way with a 95-95 score confirming it a draw.
“He is a young, fresh, fast fighter with good reflexes, and I was supposed to be the old, slow fighter who can't keep up with him,” said Diaz to TQBR after the fight. “But you saw, I landed at the same rate or even more. He was slapping a lot, but I'm a veteran fighter and I want my punches to count.”
Diaz, who has previously been stopped five times and written off a few times, was fighting for his career.
“I was trying to demoralize him. When he would catch me, I would take a step forward. I started cracking him to the body and he started panicking, so that's why I went to his head a lot. I feel like a young 32. I had a great career, but I had some downfalls when I was at the peak of my career. I'm healthy, I've got no injuries in my life, and there's nothing that will prohibit me from getting another world title.”
“For me, a fight like this was to prove that I ain't an old man. What better than a young prospect, up and coming, undefeated young fresh fighter? He's supposed to make me look like an old man and that is the reason I took a fight like this. I don't want to be fighting tune up fights, I'm not at that age no more. Look at my record, I want a fight with the big fighters. If I've still got it, I've got it, if not then I don't.”
When asked if Diaz would be interested in taking on a comebacking Victor Ortiz, who defeated Julio's brother Antonio Diaz a few years ago, he seemed open to the possibility.
“There are many fighters on the comeback trail. If Amir Khan wins, hopefully that's a possibility, same with Paulie Malignaggi. There are guys that are looking for a tune up kind of fight, I welcome the opportunity to be that tune up fight where today I was supposed to be a stepping stone. I know how this works.”