Molina dominates Spinks
By Sam Geraci at ringside
Photos by Joey Hill at RoyalDivide.com
Chicago's Carlos "King" Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs) dominated former jr middleweight champion and former undisputed welterweight champion Cory "The Next Generation" Spinks (39-8, 11 KOs) of St. Louis, MO to capture a unanimous decision with the scores of 119-106 twice and 120-105 in front of his hometown crowd of 5,300-plus at the UIC Pavilion.
Molina controlled nearly every second of the bout with his pressure, lead right hands and left hooks to the body and head With the victory, Molina solidified his place among the top 154lb fighters and earned a shot at the winner of the February 23rd jr middleweight IBF title clash between champion Cornelius "K9" Bundrage and contender Ishe "Sugar Shay" Smith.
Although Spinks no longer resembles the slick, crafty boxer who outsmarted and outboxed larger and perhaps more skilled fighters throughout the early part of the 2000's, he still did enough to test the limits of the title-hungry Molina. Molina showcased his superior upper-body movement as well as his ability and willingness to sit-down on his shots, which many doubted he possessed.
"I am still working on my power, but I feel I am getting there," said Molina. "If you look at this fight and my last fifteen fights, I have proven that I am one of the elites at 154. I'm ready to become the IBF champion and take on all of the top fighters!"
In the first thirty seconds of the bout, it became apparent that Spinks wanted to use his hand speed and footwork to fight from a distance behind his jab and counter right hook from his southpaw stance while Molina intended to work his way in behind his terrific upper-body movement in order to land thudding hooks to the body and head.
While the first two minutes of the round were competitive, it appeared as though Molina could have been credited with a knockdown after landing a series of left hooks to the head and body that, coupled with a slip, led to the gloves of Spinks touching the mat. For the last minute of the round, in particular the last twenty seconds, Molina pressured Spinks into the ropes and let loose an all-out attack of left hooks to the body and head. Molina flurried and caused significant damage in the last twenty seconds of each round.
By the end of the first, it became clear that Molina's youth, pressure, and perhaps his dedication to sitting-down on his shots were going to be the difference in the bout. Molina also appeared to be imposing his size on Spinks. For the first time in his career, Molina looks as though he has finally grown into a true 154lb fighter instead of a blown-up 147lb fighter.
For the first half of the second round, Molina continued to pressure Spinks and began to diversify his attack by implementing lead rights to the body. For the first two minutes of the round, Spinks held his own by landing quick combinations to head whenever Molina charged forward without a jab or upper-body movement.
Despite his success, his lack of power was unsuccessful in staving off Molina's attack, especially in the final thirty seconds of the round when Molina was successful in backing Spinks into the ropes to land with thudding left and right hooks.
This was probably the best round for Spinks, but his efforts still might not have been enough to sway the judges. Spinks was warned for excessive holding towards the middle of the round, a tactic that would ultimately cost him a point in round nine.
In round three, Spinks was successful in creating the distance and countering when Molina lunged forward without working his way in. However, there wasn't enough "pop" in the punches of Spinks to thwart Molina's attack. Molina pressured Spinks throughout the round and landed several left hooks to the body and head as well as several lead rights to the body and head that should have been enough to carry the round. If there was any doubt, however, Molina again closed the round strongly by landing two straight rights upstairs that sent Spinks in the ropes followed by a thudding combination before the bell sounded.
To start the fourth, Molina altered his attack and came out jabbing and circling to his left in order to avoid the straight left counters of Spinks. Although Molina's circling was successful in avoiding the counters of Spinks, he did not cause significant damage in the round. In fact, it appeared from ringside that Molina's change in tactics allowed Spinks to recover from the damage caused at the end of round three. Towards the close of the round, Spinks landed a terrific body shot but Molina responded with a two-punch combination that sent Spinks reeling.
For the first half of the fifth, Molina continued to outbox Spinks. Towards the end of the round, Molina cornered Spinks and unleashed several thudding left and right hooks that caused serious damage. In his corner, Spinks appeared fatigued.
Throughout the sixth and seventh, Spinks successfully used footwork and ring generalship to avoid Molina but he was unsuccessful in mounting any type of offensive. Molina's pressure and ability to force his opponent to the ropes and land thudding shots were the difference.
Almost like clockwork, Molina backed Spinks to the ropes to score big at the close of the sixth and seventh.
In the eighth, Spinks continued to show the effects of Molina's attack, as he was forced to back-peddle throughout the round and reduced to holding to avoid Molina's shots. In addition to a complete absence of an offensive attack, Spinks started to make a dangerous mistake throughout the round with moving straight back with his head high in an attempt to avoid Molina's punches. As a result, Molina found a home for his right hand upstairs by shifting his lead rights up and down.
To start the ninth, Spinks came out on his toes circling Molina and landed a terrific right hook. Aside from the opening seconds and a few counter right hooks, however, Spinks was ineffective. Molina continued to bully Spinks to the ropes and into the corners with lead rights in order to land powerful hooks to the body and head that eliminated any power and speed that Spinks possessed. Despite showing the grit and courage that made him one of the sport's underappreciated champions, Spinks was forced to hold in order to slow Molina's attack. Spinks was penalized for holding towards the end of the round. If Molina had a little more power or another thirty seconds, he might have been able to close the show in the ninth.
In round ten, Molina continued to pressure Spinks to the ropes and into the corners to land damaging shots. Molina scored a knockdown with a looping right hand while both were crouched towards each other. Although Spinks was floored, the punch seemed to be more of a result of the accumulation of shots and constant pressure than from the blow. Throughout the tenth, Spinks appeared spent and was caught off-balance on several occasions, especially when trying to move to his right to counter with the hook.
In rounds eleven and twelve, Molina was simply too much for Spinks, and Spinks was reduced to holding and flailing about in order to survive. Molina was credited with another knockdown in the twelfth.
Several times during the twelfth round it appeared as though Spinks would collapse but to his credit, he showed the heart of a champion and continued bravely to the final bell.
The effort of Spinks reminded fans of what once made him a two-time champion and the undisputed linear welterweight champion of the world, which was that he could box, he was smart, he was tough and brave.
Smith Dominates Castillo!
Before the clash between junior middleweight Antwone "The Truth" Smith (22-4-1, 12 KOs) and Mexican-legend Jose Luis "El Terrible" Castillo (64-12-1, 55 KOs), who established his greatness at junior welterweight nearly ten years ago, boxing experts and enthusiasts questioned whether Smith was simply an overhyped prospect who never worked to reach his potential and whether Castillo had anything left to contribute in the ring at 39 years old.
Unfortunately, despite a wide unanimous decision of 100-90, 98-92, and 99-91 for Smith, some doubts reside after their showdown.
While Castillo attempted to pressure Smith throughout the bout in order to land his signature left hooks, Smith effectively and wisely stepped back to create space in order to score consistently with uppercuts and quick combinations.
Even when Castillo landed, whether it was because of his age, Smith's size, or Smith's ability to absorb a punch, Castillo's shots had little to no effect. As a result, perhaps because Smith was unable to score the knockout or seriously hurt Castillo, some at ringside still questioned whether Smith could compete with top-twenty fighters at jr middleweight and whether Castillo could still serve as some type of test for up-and-coming fighters.
The first four rounds of the contest were somewhat competitive. Castillo attempted to close the distance in order to land his left hooks to the body and head while Smith appeared to be working off a little ring rust as well as trying to showcase his punching power and his attempts at a Mayweather-like shoulder roll. After four rounds, however, it became clear that despite landing several solid shots, Castillo's punches had no effect on Smith besides causing a little bleeding from his mouth. Castillo might have won the fourth but was penalized for a low blow.
Towards the end of round four and throughout the first half of the fifth, Smith's corner could be heard echoing the sentiments of most ringside observers, "He's old! His legs are gone! He was a great champion, but he ain't no more!"
For the remainder of the bout, with the exception of landing a few well-place left hooks and sneaky overhand rights, Castillo showed his age by plodding forward without using angles or a jab and by getting caught repeatedly with uppercuts every time he placed most of his weight on his front foot, which he did often.
Although Castillo is no longer the fighter that he once was and probably shouldn't be fighting at 154lb. On the other side of the ring, Smith should be given credit for sticking to his game plan and for controlling the action with his work rate, defense, uppercuts, and quick jabs to the head and body. Smith might have been able to score the knockout if he had taken more risks down the stretch but doing so would have been Castillo's only chance to steal some rounds.
It will be interesting to see how Smith performs when he is given an opportunity, which he deserves, to prove himself in a bout with a true 154lb fighter. The only question remaining for Castillo, which many fight fans might not want to see answered, is can the Mexican legend still perform against solid fighters at 147lb as he did when he dramatically stopped welterweight hopeful Ivan Popoca back in July.
Szpilka Comes from behind to KO Mollo!
In an all-out brawl between hard-hitting heavyweights that kept the crowd on their feet chanting, Artur Szpilka (13-0, 10 KOs) of Warsaw, Poland, survived a brutal onslaught from Chicago fan-favorite Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KOs) of Chicago, IL, to score a knockout in round six after landing a dynamic left cross. Referee Celestino Ruiz called a halt to the bout at 2:45.
This was an incredibly bloody bout in which both fighters were severely hurt on several occasions. Mollo scored knockdowns in rounds one and four and suffered deep cuts above both eyes before the end of the second round.
In round one, Mollo pressured Szpilka and landed the more damaging blows while Szpilka tried to maintain distance in order to land his right hook and straight left from his southpaw stance. Towards the end of the first, Mollo trapped Szpilka against the ropes and unleashed a body combination followed by several sweeping hooks upstairs that sent Szpilka crashing to the mat. Szpilka recovered from the knockdowns and went back to battle with Mollo. Somehow Mollo suffered a cut above his left eye that would affect his performance throughout the bout. At ringside, it was difficult to determine if the cut was the result of a punch or from the many clashes of heads and elbows.
In the second, in a theme that would continue throughout the bout, Mollo pursued Szpilka with bad intentions while Szpilka used his length and superior boxing abilities to create distance to land his right hook followed by his crisp left cross. Towards the middle of the round, Mollo was warned for throwing Szpilka to the mat. Although Mollo's aggression seemed to be working, he was cut badly above his right eye. The round closed with blood streaming from above both of Mollo's eyes.
In round three, Mollo continued to pressure Szpilka into the ropes in order to land the harder shots while Szpilka landed the cleaner shots, primarily the right hook followed by the left cross. Towards the middle of round three, Szpilka's clean shots had completely busted-up Mollo's eyes, and referee Celestino Ruiz asked the ringside physician to take a look. Mollo's cuts were gruesome. After being allowed to continue, Mollo continued to pursue Szpilka, but it was clear that his vision was affected. As a result, Szpilka started to land with greater frequency and power.
Towards the middle of the fourth, Referee Celestino Ruiz again asked the ringside physician to take a look at Mollo's eyes, which were among the bloodiest this reporter has ever seen ringside. Mollo again pleaded with the physician to let him continue. Seconds after retuning to the fight, with the urging of his trainer, Danell "Doc" Nicholson, a former IBO heavyweight champion, Mollo stormed Szpilka feverishly and scored a devastating knockdown with a sweeping left hook. While the referee gave Szpilka the mandatory eight count, the always-entertaining Mollo smiled at Szpilka and ringside reporters while making the throat-slash gesture. Somehow, Szpilka survived the round.
For the first minute of the fifth, Mollo overwhelmed Szpilka with body shots and wide left and right hooks along the ropes. For the first half of the round, Mollo appeared to have Szpilka in trouble before being deducted a point for pushing Szpilka to the mat. In another brutal round, Szpilka continued to score with terrific right hooks followed by left crosses and uppercuts while Mollo began continued to land the more devastating shots.
In between rounds five and six, the ringside physician took another close look at Mollo's eye.
For the first minute of round six, Szpilka was effective in outboxing Mollo with his jab, right hook, and left crosses that he occasionally began looping to avoid Mollo's defense. Despite outlanding Mollo and stunning him on several occasions, Mollo still caused significant damage whenever he was able to force Szpilka to the ropes. Towards the end of the round, just when Mollo appeared to be trying to come back, Szpilka fired a brilliant combination punctuated by a dynamic left cross that sent Mollo to the mat and abruptly ended the bout.
Referee Celestino Ruiz called a halt to the bout at 2:45.
"Da Bomb" Explodes on Cook!
Donovan "Da Bomb" George (24-3-1, 20 KOs) of Chicago, IL, rebounded from his loss against top contender Adonis Stevenson (October 2012) by stopping an overmatched and outclassed James Cook (11-5-1, 8 KOs) of Springfield, MO, at 1:15 in the first round with a thudding body combination. After the fight, George expressed that he wished he would have been tested more and that he looks forward to putting on a more entertaining fight next time out. To entertain the fans, however, George did complete a backflip.
Jimenez Demolishes Brown
Rising super middleweight Mike "Hollywood" Jimenez (9-0, 6 KOs) of Chicago, IL, stopped Jordan Brown (3-2, 1 KO) of Hannibal, MO, at 1:26 of the second round with a series of crisp right hands and quick uppercuts. Although Brown landed several solid left hooks in the first, Jimenez completely dominated and outclassed Brown, who had no defense for the speed and right hands of Jimenez.
While Jimenez has matured in each of his fights, Friday's performance against Brown, who is usually a game "tough guy," might have been the performance that propels him into taking a more meaningful and challenging bout. Chicago fight fans are excited about this young and charismatic fighter, and some at ringside were discussing the excitement of a showdown between Jimenez and Paul Littleton (6-0-1, 4 KOs), another respected 168lb Chicago fighter.
Murphy Forces Carson to Quit!
In his second consecutive odd TKO victory, welterweight Jimmy Murphy (2-0, 2 KOs) of Chicago, IL, was credited with a second round TKO at 1:36 after Aloric Carson (0-3) of Indianapolis, IN, retired in his corner during a short discussion. Carson was sent to his corner to put his mouthpiece in after Murphy knocked it out. Round one was competitive; Murphy controlled the second.
Herrera Overwhelms Smith
Welterweight Jaime Herrera (10-2, 5 KOs) of Chicago, IL, overwhelmed Marlon Smith (2-3, 2 KOs) of St. Louis, MO, in the first round en route to a first round TKO at 2:38. Smith was knocked down with a left hook in the first and was never able to recover. Referee Celestino Ruiz wisely stepped in to call a halt to the bout.
Wright Continues Knockout Streak
Cruiserweight Junior Wright (6-0, 6 KOs) of Evanston, IL, continued his streak of knockouts by stopping Tim Johnson (4-2, 1 KO) of Philadelphia, PA, in resounding fashion with a left hook in round two. In round one, Wright outworked Johnson with his jab and controlled the action with his movement. In round two, Johnson came out with urgency and attempted to land with power but was met with Wright's bad intentions and stopped at 56 seconds of the round.
Montes de Oca Scores Unpopular Second Round TKO
In the final bout of the evening 126lb Sergio Montes de Oca (7-1-1, 2 KOs) of Chicago, IL, scored what many in the crowd believed was an early stoppage of Antoine Knight (2-2, 1 KO) of Chicago, IL, in the second round.
Montes de Oca used his superior movement in round one in an attempt to avoid Knight's power. Although Montes de Oca scored more frequently in the first, especially when Knight lunged in without using head movement or a jab, Knight's superior punching power might have stolen the round. As the bell sounded, both fighters threw and missed wildly. It was a very competitive round.
In the second, Montes de Oca successfully negated Knight's power by using his movement to keep him off-balance and by shooting quick combinations whenever Knight attempted to apply pressure recklessly and without a jab. Towards the beginning of the round, Referee Celestino Ruiz warned Montes de Oca for holding while hitting. Shortly after the warning, Montes de Oca took control of the bout and backed Knight into the corner and landed several powerful shots. The referee suddenly halted the action when Knight did not respond although the fighter appeared to be ready to continue the clash. Knight and his corner protested the stoppage. Because of the bout's excitement and the crowd's reaction, a rematch might be warranted.
Molina vs. Spinks and Smith vs. Castillo were presented by Dominic Pesoli of 8 Count Productions, Frank Mugnolo of Round 3 Productions, Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing, and Blue Wave Boxing in association with Don King Productions.