March 27, 2014

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 14

Hands up at the IBHOF for Too Sharp
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett -- The most salient challenge when differentiating between boxing greats from past eras is the assessment of oppositional quality. Like we see today, there is often a lot of fluff amid the ledgers of past ring legends. Over the years, I have read critical perspectives of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam's resume. He fought often and between world title bouts he kept active against fighters with little to no recorded ring experience. Yet, Jimmy Wilde, whose resume is replete with insufficiently documented resumes, is often hailed as the greatest flyweight of all time. He's up there for sure; his numbers are great. However, is the meat between the bread as hearty as it's given credit for? The same could be said about Wonjongkam, who had he not been active would have surely made the top ten, possibly top five. Another issue is dominance over weak opposition.

I personally see few fighters on this list that I would say beat Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson hands down. Yet, they all have better resumes than him at 112 pounds. Johnson's talent got him in the conversation, but, in the end, he only just missed the cut. Perhaps a more unpopular opinion of mine is that although excellent fighters, Benny Lynch and Pascual Perez, both in the lower half of the top ten, benefitted greatly from weaker eras or not having a legitimate rival. Others who missed the cut held a significant win or two in the division, arguably better than others, but campaigned at flyweight for only a small portion of their careers. The greatest challenge with my compilation of the best flyweight boxers of all-time was the sheer volume of time and participants involved. The strawweight and light flyweight divisions lack the historical significance of the flyweight division, which is among the original eight weight classes in boxing.
The light flyweight class only dates back to 1975 and the strawweight division emerged in 1987.

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight and Below:

On Saturday, March 1, at Emperors Palace, Gauteng, South Africa, Hekkie Budler blitzed Karluis Diaz in one round of a WBA minimumweight title bout. The bout ended at the 2:59 mark. Budler raised his ledger to 25-1 (8) and notched the first defense of his title. Diaz fell to 21-4 (14). Budler remained my top-rated 105-pounder in the game.

On Saturday, March 8, at Coliseo Dibos Dammert, Lima, Peru, Alberto Rossel defeated Gabriel Mendoza by unanimous decision in a twelve round interim WBA light flyweight title bout. Rossel notched his fourth title defense in his homeland and raised his record to 32-8 (13). Mendoza dipped to 19-3-2 (16). Rossel maintained his number seven ranking among my top-rated 108-pounders.

Reveco drops Vides
On Friday, March 21, at Villa La Ñata Sporting Club, Benavídez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Juan Carlos Reveco stopped Manuel Vides in two rounds of a WBA flyweight title bout. Reveco defended his title for the sixth time in total between interim and full title bouts. He lifted his ledger to 33-1 (18). Vides crashed to 15-3 (9).Reveco jumped passed Luis Concepcion in my flyweight rankings to number nine. Concepcion dipped to tenth.

On Saturday, March 22, at Arena Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, Merlito Sabillo suffered an upset tenth round TKO against Francisco Rodriguez Jr in WBO minimumweight title bout. The bout was waved off at the 1:50 mark. Rodriguez captured his first world title and raised his record to 14-2 (10). Sabillo dipped to 23-1-1 (12). Rodriguez crashed my minimumweight rankings at number five. Sabillo fell from fifth to eighth. Ryugi Hara exited the top ten to make room.

At Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama, Anselmo Moreno outpointed Javier Nicholas Chacon in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout. Chacon was dropped twice in the second round, but hung on to hear the final bell. Moreno won by scores of 117-108, 117-109, and 118-108. Moreno defended his title for the thirteenth time and improved his dossier to 35-2-1 (12). Chacon dipped to 19-2 (4). Moreno remained my number two bantamweight in the world today. Also on the card, Leroy Estrada defeated Edwin Diaz in a ten round minimumweight bout. Estrada won by scores of 98-92, 96-95, and 96-93 in spite of hitting the canvas in the ninth round. Estrada upped his record to 12-1 (5). Diaz fell to 16-19 (5). Estrada claimed the tenth spot among my top-rated 105-pounders. Diaz, previously ranked tenth, exited.

On Wednesday, March 26, at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan, Denkaosan Kaovichit was stopped by Kohei Kono in eight rounds for the vacant WBA super flyweight title. The end came at the :50 mark. Kaovichit was dropped in the fourth and eighth rounds. Kono elevated his record to 30-8 (13) in reclaiming the title. Kaovichit fell to 62-4-1- (26). Kono affirmed his number three ranking among my top 115-pounders. Kaovichit fell from ninth out of the top ten. Felipe Orucuta advanced from tenth to ninth. Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. returned to the ten spot.

Bantamweight and Below Featured Rankings -
All-Time Best Retired Flyweights (112):

Canto is #1 All Time at Flyweight
1.) Miguel Canto (112) 61-9-4 (15) ~ Former WBC Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 112: W15 Shoji Oguma I, W15 Betulio Gonzalez II, W15 Martin Vargas I

2.) Betulio Gonzalez (112) 78-12-3 (52) ~ Former two-time WBC and WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 112: W15 Miguel Canto, W15 Guty Espadas, KO12 Shoji Oguma

3.) Jimmy Wilde (112*) 132-3-1 (99) ~ Former World Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 112: TKO 9 Sid Smith, W15 Joe Symonds, TKO11 Tancy Lee, W20 Memphis Pal Moore

4.) Frankie Genaro (112) 79-21-8 (19) ~ Former NBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 112: W12 Pancho Villa, W10 Pancho Villa, W15 Pancho Villa

5.) Pancho Villa (112) 78-4-4 (22) ~ Former World Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 112: KO7 Jimmy Wilde, W8 Kid Williams, W12 Bud Taylor

Pong Wonj gets the honorable mention
6.) Benny Lynch (112) 88-14-17 (34) ~ Former World Flyweight Champion ~  Best Wins at 112:
RTD2 Jackie Brown, W15 Small Montana, KO13 Peter Kane

7.) Pone Kingpetch (112) 28-7-0 (9) ~ Former World, two-time WBC, and two-time WBA Flyweight Champion ~ Best Wins at 112: W12 Pascual Perez,
TKO8 Pascual Perez, W15 Fighting Harada

8.) Yuri Arbachakov (112) 23-1-0 (16) ~ Former WBC Flyweight Champion ~
Best Wins at 112: KO8 Muangchai Kittikasem, TKO9 Muangchai Kittikasem, W12 Chatchai Sasakul

9.) Masao Ohba (112) 35-2-1 (16) ~ Former WBA Flyweight Champion ~ 
Best Wins at 112: W15 Betulio Gonzalez, KO 12 Chartchai Chionoi,
W10 Bernabe Villacampo

10.) Pascual Perez (112) 84-7-1 (57) ~ Former World Flyweight Champion ~ 
Best Wins at 112: KO 5 Yohsio Shirai III, W15 Yoshio Shirai II, W15 Leo Espinosa

* Wilde never actually scaled as high as 112 for a fight, but competed at flyweight.    
He typically fought in the high 90's up to what we could call strawweight today.

Honorable Mentions: Mark Johnson, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (still active), Midget Wolgast, and Fidel Labarba.

Bantamweight and Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!

Give Buitrago another shot at the WBO title
Nicaragua's Carlos Buitrago, 22, has not fought since his disputed draw against Merlito Sabillo back in November, but since then the WBO minimumweight title has changed hands. On that night, Buitrago settled for a draw in Sabillo's native Philippines by scores of 114-114, 115-113, and 113-115. Just this week, Mexico's Francisco Rodriguez Jr., 20, dethroned Sabillo by tenth round TKO. Rodriguez, 14-2 (10), was rebounding from a recent stoppage loss to Roman Gonzalez, Buitrago's countryman, last year in Nicaragua. Rodriguez was able to bring Sabillo to Mexico to meet him for their title bout. Buitrago, 27-0-1 (16), traveled to Mexico for a recent win in 2013, so he should be more than willing to do so again for a second opportunity at the WBO minimumweight title.

The Nicaraguan is still ranked number one and would provide a youthful dynamite match-up with Rodriguez.

Bantamweight and Below  — On the Horizon:

Clash in Newcastle
On Saturday, March 29, at Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom, Stuart Hall versus Martin Ward in a twelve round IBF bantamweight title bout. Two of the UK's top bantamweights clash in Newcastle while their British peers Lee Haskins and Jamie McDonnell await the winner.

On Saturday, March 29, at Texas Station Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Brian Viloria versus Juan Herrera in a ten round super flyweight bout. The former champion begins his hunt for his fifth belt in his third division in this tune-up bout. Viloria has not fought since being upset by Juan Francisco Estrada.

On Saturday, April 5, at Arena Tecate, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Giovani Segura versus Felipe Salguero in a ten round flyweight bout. The most feared puncher from Bantamweight and Below looks to keep his win-streak alive.

Big night for Naoya Inoue?
On Sunday, April 6, at Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan, Akira Yaegashi versus Odilon Zaleta in a twelve round WBC flyweight title bout; Adrian Hernandez versus Naoya Inoue in a twelve round WBC light flyweight title bout; Roman Gonzalez versus Juan Purisima in a ten round flyweight bout. This stacked card features three of today's top fighters from Bantamweight and Below. It is rumored that Gonzalez is next in line for Yaegashi should both men win.

Inoue is my pick to pull off the upset against Hernandez.

On Wednesday, April 23, at Castle Hall, Osaka, Osaka, Japan, Shinsuke Yamanaka versus Stephane Jamoye in a twelve round WBC bantamweight title bout. The world's best bantamweight looks to tame the seasoned Belgium challenger with pressure punching. 

On Friday, April 25, in Phitsanulok, Thailand, Oleydong Sithsamerchai versus Noli Morales in a twelve round super flyweight bout. The Thai fighter is long overdue a title fight amid his seventeen bout win-streak.

Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest

You can find more of Derek's writings & ratings at

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March 21, 2014

KO Digest Scoring and Analysis of Danny Garcia vs Mauricio Herrera

Was the fix in the Main or co-main?
By Jeffrey Freeman -- One fan's close fight is another fan's robbery.

Such is the way of the world in a sport as subjective as boxing. Barring a knockout or some other premature ending, all fights are decided by the opinions of fellow human beings seated ringside. We call them judges but it's not just these opinions that get voiced when fights are close and when passions run deep. Last weekend in Puerto Rico on Showtime, Philadelphia's Danny Garcia (28-0, 16 KO's) retained his World Junior Welterweight Championship with a highly disputed majority decision (116-112, 116-112, and 114-114) over Mauricio Herrera (20-3, 7 KO's) in which the controversial WBC policy of "open scoring" was in effect. What this meant was that the scores of the fight were revealed after the 4th and 8th rounds had been completed.

Nobody in attendance should have been terribly surprised to learn that Garcia was ahead on the cards, this being a "homecoming" title defense on the island of his parent's birth. For the record, KO Digest scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Garcia. Due to fan outrage and myriad cries of robbery, I have decided to have a second look, which I must say goes against my long-standing policy of scoring a fight once on its first live viewing and then sticking with that result. In any case, I have thrown out my original score pad from that night. Honestly, I do not remember which rounds I originally gave to who and I am ready to look at the fight again and re-score it. With that said, I now thrown caution (and bias) to the wind and whatever happens, happens. Every round will be looked at (again) very closely and very fairly and no effort will be made to "fix" the result or create one favorable to me or my original score.

Closely matched competitors
Round 1: Battle of the jabs early while Garcia looks for a home for the left which Herrera avoided more than a few times throughout the round. A pair of straight right hands from Garcia strafed Herrera on the ropes. Herrera found a home for his jab to the stomach of Garcia. Close opening round goes to Garcia 10-9

Round 2: Garcia continues his struggle to land the left hook while Herrera keeps up his jab attack to the midsection of Garcia. A sweeping right hand from Herrera lands to the face of Garcia at the mid way point in the round. Herrera is moving well and jabbing well and Garcia looks unable to set up his best punches. A left jab in close snaps back the head of Garcia. The challenger punctuates a good round by going to the body down the stretch while Garcia missed again and again with his left hook. Herrera wins the round 10-9. 

Round 3: Lead right hand to the head from Herrera to open the round. Herrera is beating Garcia to the punch and that includes a nice left hook to the chops as well as most of the jabs in this round. Herrera complains about an obvious low blow from Garcia and then goes right back to disrupting his offense by punching and moving out of range or clinching when he can't back up safely after punching. Herrera wins the round 10-9  

Round 4: Herrera is busy to start the round with jabs up and downstairs. Sloppy clinches muddle the fight's flow and make it difficult to interpret the action. What was clear to see was a ripping left to the body from Garcia followed by a straight right hand down the middle that lands flush on the chin of Herrera. The jabs of both fighters hit and miss with equal frequency in the second half of the round which Garcia wins on the strength of his power punching 10-9 

Garcia was puzzled by Herrera
Round 5: Herrera immediately beats Garcia to the jab to open the round and then lands a thudding right hand flush to take control of it. Garcia shows his frustration at the body attack of Herrera when in fact it's Garcia who has strayed most south in this fight so far. A sweeping left hook catches Garcia on the chin backing up. Easy round to score based on superior ring generalship illustrated in the fact that Herrera is fighting his fight, making Garcia miss with his money punch, and so Herrera wins the round 10-9  

Round 6: The official judges score totals after four rounds are read aloud in Spanish. No surprise, Garcia is leading 38-38, 40-36, 39-37. Herrera grabs the initiative in the round by landing a left hook. Garcia tries to attack but his punches are either too slow, or too inaccurate. Simply put, Garcia is having a very hard time landing anything solid but he does rip a nice left to the body while Herrera stood in front of him. Herrera closes the round with a flush lead left jab but it's not enough to steal a very close stanza. Garcia wins it 10-9

Round 7: Herrera lands a left hook to open the round and that just has to frustrate Garcia because he can't seem to get his on target at all. Garcia is backing up looking for counters and Herrera is pushing the fight while avoiding most of them them. Herrera's jab is also more accurate which sets him up nicely for the stuff he is outworking Garcia with on the inside, and in clinches. Garcia lands his best jab of the fight and it snaps Herrera's head back. In a close round, Garcia finally finds a spot for a few left hooks and this energizes the crowd and wins the round 10-9 for Swift.

Garcia bleeds while Herrera attacks
Round 8: Garcia looks to have made an adjustment for avoiding the left hook but not one for landing it. Herrera times a lead right hand and Garcia eats it with his face. Garcia is beginning to look a bit weary and a bit unsure of himself as the crowd begins to boo. As Herrera walks down Garcia and occasionally puts him in the corner, the champion lands his left hands to the only place he can put them, the body of Herrera. Garcia flashes a flurry to close the round but it's not enough to take it. Herrera round 10-9  

Round 9:  Herrera again lands a left hook to open the round, an exercise in irony for sure.  A booming overhand right from Herrera lands and sends Garcia slightly off balance in his own effort to counter. More jabs from Herrera set up another right hand and Herrera mixes in the right uppercut on the inside. Another big right hand from Herrera draws blood from the nose of Garcia and backs him into the ropes where Herrera roughs him up and does quality pro work with both hands up and down. Garcia tries to rally but it falls short.  
Herrera wins the round 10-9

Round 10: Open scoring after eight rounds announced as 78-74, 77-75 for Garcia and 77-75 for Herrera. Glove tap to open the round, a relief for Garcia who takes to backing up immediately while Herrera again continues to push the fight and pick his man apart. Lead right hand from Herrera is an eye catching punch and Garcia appears more than willing to clinch and maul in response. Quick exchange of punches by both is highlighted by another successful Herrera left hook. Little firefights are being won by Herrera and it is Garcia who initiates the clinches after being hit.  
Another round for Herrera 10-9   

Round 11: Garcia is again making wind with his left hook as it consistently sails over the head of Herrera or harmlessly in front of his face. Perhaps emboldened by this, Herrera stands still in front of Garcia with his back not too far off the ropes which allows Garcia to do some of his best work. Herrera moves to the middle of the ring for the last minute where he acts like a statue and gets hit for his troubles. Garcia wins the 11th round 10-9

Homecoming close call for Danny and Daddy
Round 12: Herrera is back in more of an attack mode to start the final round and he is keeping Garcia's back on the ropes. Garcia pushed off and landed a decent left hook but it wasn't enough to disrupt the offensive output of Herrera who lands a nice right hand over the top in an effort to close the show strong. Garcia landed a nice one-two combo but Herrera walked through it and Garcia's back was on the ropes again from the pressure of Herrera. Another clean left hook from Herrera lands while Garcia tries to blitz his way towards winning the last round. Two straight right hands and two left hooks from Herrera punctuate the round and he is on the attack with a flush jab to the face when the bell rings. Herrera wins the 12th round 10-9

Official Scores: 116-112, 116-112, and 114-114 in favor of Danny "Swift" Garcia to retain his world title.

KO Digest scores the fight 115-113 in favor of Mauricio Herrera

March 15, 2014

KO Digest Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers - Randy Caballero

El Matador
In the March edition of KO Digest's 'Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers' we zoom in on another rising star with a world championship belt firmly in his sights. Randy Caballero (20-0, 12 KO's) is now ranked number four by the IBF and - after former champion Jamie McDonnell was forced to withdraw from their proposed eliminator in the UK - Caballero will now travel to Japan in order to face number five ranked Kohei Oba (35-2-1, 14 KO's) in an eliminator for the IBF bantamweight title held by Stuart Hall.

"The whole team was looking forward to going out to England," said Caballero "We were excited for that fight. Then we got the call about whatever was happening with his management, and I'm not sure on the full story (McDonnell is in a legal battle with promoter Dennis Hobson as he looks to terminate his contract and sign with Eddie Hearn) but then they threw us Japan, and I'm excited again. Regardless of where I fight, I am going to have to put a 100% in, whether it is in England, Japan or anywhere else in the world, I gotta do what I gotta do once I get in that ring. It makes no difference to me."

Caballero, born September 27, 1990 in Coachella, CA., chalked up an exceptional record during his time as an amateur including a national championship in 2008. He compiled an impressive marker of roughly 167-10 as he looked to follow in the footsteps of those close to him. "My Dad was a boxer and when he came to the US he ended up getting with Lee Espinoza at the Coachella Valley Boxing Club, and he has been there ever since. My older brother was a boxer too, and I used to love watching him, he used to knock out people like crazy. Then I got involved with the sport. It's just a family thing man, my two younger brothers are now boxing too. It runs in the family."

Caballero is loyal to family
Caballero is trained by his father Marcos, at a gym close to his home, alongside his brothers. It is certainly a family thing. It will come as no surprise that the undefeated fighter, nicknamed 'El Matador', has no plans of changing camp anytime soon. "My Dad trains me, he has taught me everything I know and I'm not gonna go with anybody else. I came in to the sport with my Dad and I'm not leaving without him. We're going all the way to the top. He's worked with a lot of top names, he worked with Johnny Tapia before, but he focuses all his attention on us."

Like he said, "It's a family thing man."

Caballero can fight. He is a boxer-puncher who puts his punches together well and he possesses enough power in either hand to keep you honest. He is technically sound and certainly well schooled but not always conventional. His lead-right hand is effective, his jab is crisp and thrown often and his left hook often punctuates his combinations well. His defensive skills are largely underrated and as the quality of opponent improves, we should expect to see him make the necessary adjustments. "To be honest, I don't think the people have seen the boxing skills that I have. I have very fast footwork and I can out-box a fighter but for some reason that part of my game hasn't clicked in yet. I've just been knocking these guys out," said Caballero.

Caballero has stopped over half of his opponents, operating as more of a bull than a matador for the time being. His first knockout came in his professional debut against fellow debutant Gonzalo Nicolas at Commerce Casino in Commerce, CA., "It was a night I'll never forget, I was pumped up man. I know everybody gets nervous, and don't get me wrong, I was nervous too, but once I started walking out to the ring dude, and all of my fans where there, I was just pumped up and ready to go. As a matter of fact, we had a guy pull out and they found a guy on the day of weigh-ins. We ended up weighing in for that fight, two hours before we went in to the locker rooms."

Caballero and Oba will square off on April 4th at the Sambo Hall, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. The winner will likely travel to the UK to face IBF champion Stuart Hall. It is certainly not a formality for the young bantamweight but it is likely to offer the easiest route for Caballero who is also ranked number two by the WBO. Caballero has come a long way since that night in Commerce, CA., and he definitely has a long way to go, literally. The trip to Japan will take him and his team half way around the world in a quest for IBF supremacy. Despite being positioned higher than Oba in the official rankings, and still having to travel, Caballero refuses to let the logistics dampen his spirits.

"Sometimes I ask the same questions, like 'why can't they come to me?' But, you know, I just let Golden Boy find my fights and I will train 100% and get ready, and we are ready for this fight. It's a tough fight, we have seen the way he fights, going into his hometown is definitely going to be different, but like I said, we are ready."

Written by Terry Strawson ~ exclusively for KO Digest  
Photo Credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

March 1, 2014

KO Digest Interview: Carlos Molina - "I’m a boxing technician"

Carlos is finally King
Often times, the most ferocious fighters in boxing turn out to be gentle giants outside of the ring, away from their hyped personas and promotionally fabricated facades of grandeur. We’ve heard that story so many times that it’s almost become cliché. IBF junior middleweight titlist Carlos Molina is different—he behaves the way he fights. To many fans, a quick round of word association about Molina would lead to adjectives like “boring, dull, and unpolished.” But before you read into that comment any further, let’s dispel these all-too-common fallacies about the Mexican-American champion, who was born in Mexico but now resides in Chicago. For bloodthirsty fans that long for haymakers and who focus interest and attention on merely one facet of the sport, Molina’s KO percentage of 20.69% can be a turn off.

However, what Molina may lack in sheer in-your-face power, he makes up for with a calculated approach that flies under the radar both in and out of the ring. Molina is a family man, and he likes to lay low away from the spotlight, electing to stay out of trouble. While some cry “dirty,” he simply does what it takes to win, having been through far too many controversial decisions to leave anything on the table. And while a résumé featuring only seven amateur fights certainly gives the impression of being unpolished, Molina overcomes with will-power. When he sees something he wants, regardless of how far down the road it lies, he sets his sights on it and meticulously maps out the best avenue to get there. Ahead of his March 8 showdown with Jermall Charlo in Las Vegas, Molina admits he isn’t satisfied.

“A lot of people didn’t think I was ready to fight as a professional, but I did and I was winning. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to beat certain guys, but I did. A lot of people didn’t think I would be a world champion, but I am. A lot of people don’t think that I can defend this title, but I will.  I’m not satisfied just winning the championship. This is the beginning of a new chapter for me—I want it all,”  he said, lacking flamboyance but sounding firm and totally confident. Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KO's) might not be the flashiest fighter in the talented junior middleweight division, but setbacks be damned, he’s determined to get the job done, no matter how many years, fights, or rounds it takes.

Molina grew up around boxing
KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: You’re Mexican by birth but you reside in Illinois, and started your amateur career at the relatively advanced age 18. How do the cultures of Mexico and boxing tie into your family and your upbringing?

Carlos Molina: I was born in Mexico, but I lived most of my life here in the U.S. I started boxing here, so I think my Mexican heritage is still an important part of who I am. Growing up, I was into boxing because it was one of the biggest sports. Even though I wasn’t participating in boxing at the time, I was still around it and watching it. Every time there was a big fight, the family would get together and have a good time, so it directed me towards boxing.

KOD: Early on, there were tough fights against guys like Mike Alvarado and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.  Did fighting top notch talent from the get-go, even in defeat, help you to grow as a fighter as opposed to taking the slow and easy road to the top? Were you more prepared for guys like James Kirkland and Erislandy Lara when you did recently face them?

CM: Yes, I think so. Those kinds of dangerous fights can either ruin your career or help you out in your career. I always worked on my defense, and it ended up helping me. I was beat up and got hurt, I got damaged, and had fights I thought I won that were close. Learning from those fights and those mistakes mentally prepares you for any fight.

KOD: Should other fighters try to go the same route you did, scheduling more challenging fights early on?

CM: I don’t think so. I did it because I didn’t have a promoter or manager for most of my career, so I just had to. I didn’t have the luxury or the privilege of fighting in my own hometown or building up an undefeated record but it made me a better fighter and I wouldn’t change it in any way. Some of them fighters who have promoters are having easier fights and an easier route to get to the top, but some guys still come up the hard way because some people don’t see them or believe in them and what they’re capable of doing. This is all I have. This is the best thing I know how to do.

Molina thought he beat Chavez Jr
KOD: You fought Julio Cesar Chavez Jr twice; first was a draw in 2005, and the second bout you lost by majority decision in 2006. However, both of those fights were surrounded by controversy. How did you see the circumstances and results of those fights through your eyes?

CM: The first fight I won. I won the first fight, and the crowd also thought I won—they were chanting my name! The second fight was closer and could have been a draw, but it was still a close enough fight that it went his way and it happened to me again. But, you move on from that. I try not the think about it anymore. It’s in the past, and I want to keep moving forward.

KOD: Often times, a controversial decision leads to a rematch. About eight years have passed, and although you both are prominent fighters in your respective divisions, Chavez Jr. has bulked up and is a much larger fighter, meaning that another rematch would not be possible. Does it bother you that you’ll probably never get that chance again?

CM: I always thought that a rematch would be there for me down the line in a few years later and settle it with a third fight. But, like you said, he’s two weight classes away from me now. Anything is possible, and I might move up one weight class, but two? I’m not so sure about. I wish it would have happened, but it doesn’t bother me.

KOD: You were involved in another close decision against Mike Alvarado in 2007. 
Was there any controversy surrounding that 8-round majority decision loss?

CM: That was a close fight. Alvarado came and put pressure on me. I felt like the first four rounds were his, and maybe one of those was mine, but the last four I felt like I won. I was gaining momentum at the end of the fight, and I still feeling good. That was a fight that I wish was longer, like a 10 or 12 rounder. The distance really decided who won. Everything is stacked against you if you aren’t the favorite fighter. They’re the undefeated fighters. In all of these fights we’ve talked about, they have promoters, they’re the favorite, and all of that’s against you. Going in, you’re down two rounds already before the fight even starts. That’s just it.

Molina was handling Kirkland until the DQ
KOD: The James Kirland bout was another in the long line of controversies. You were disqualified by referee Jon Schorle after your corner entered the ring following a flash knock down in a fight you were winning. Take us through the night, the circumstances as you remember, and the aftermath.

CM: I thought I was winning the fight. Kirkland was still Kirkland. He was a dangerous fighter through the whole fight. When I lost my balances, he landed a punch at the same time in the tenth round, so it was officially a knockdown. As far as me being hurt and him winning the fight simply because of that? My corner man went in because he thought that the round was over. No, it wasn’t fair. I don’t think about it at all though. It happened already, I learn from every fight, and obviously it was a bad disqualification because the bell shouldn’t have rang. The referee wasn’t trying to help me out in any way, and it should have continued.

KOD: Who has been the toughest fighter you’ve faced?

CM: At the time, the toughest fight was Wayland Willingham, after the Chavez Jr. fight. He was a pretty tricky southpaw, the first time I ever fought a southpaw like that. It made for a hard fight, and in the third round, he dropped me with a right hook I didn’t see coming at all. That’s the one time in my career that I’ve been hurt, but I got up. In the final rounds, I almost got him out, but it was too late and I lost the fight by decision. It was one of my toughest fights, given the experience that I had.

The dream comes true for King Carlos
KOD: Last time out against Ishe Smith, picked up the IBF junior middleweight title, the first world title of your career. How emotional was that breakthrough for you?

CM: It was satisfying. Everything that I’ve been working for, everything that we’ve been through, I just kept saying “move on, move on” after controversial fights, but finally my time came after putting in the work. It felt great.

KOD: The next target is Jermall Charlo on March 8th. What are some of your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, and how do those tie into your game plan?

CM: I think his weakness is that he’s inexperienced as a professional, and his strengths are his height and reach. I’m usually the shorter guy, so my game plan will be pretty much the same: get on the inside and work him on the inside. Our plan is to always be in top shape, the best physical shape possible and go in there with a plan after all the hard work.

KOD: I want to read a quote to you that Charlo said the other day. "This is like a regular fight to me, like any other fight I've ever had. Molina is just the stepping stone. Once my team gets past this, I feel like we'll be at the top forever. I'm 17-0 right now. I haven't even clinched twenty fights and I'm fighting for a world title. I feel like an elite fighter." Having heard that, do you think he might be looking over you and that maybe he is overconfident about this fight, not anticipating you to be as big a challenge as you really are?

Molina prefers to do his talking in the ring
CM: Definitely. I feel like he’s making the same mistake as a lot of fighters have made in the past. They think it’s easy to go against what I do in a fight, but once they step in there, it’s different. There are things I do to adjust that he doesn’t see. For him, it’s just another regular fight, as compared to the opponents he fought in the past—not to talk bad about them, but he hasn’t fought top ten guys. It’s going to be different when we go into the ring.

KOD: There is a pair of criticisms about you that I’d like to give you the opportunity to respond to. The first comes from another quote by Charlo on the KO Digest Facebook page. He said “Molina will have to find ways to use his dirty tactics without getting hit with KO punches.” What do you have to say about that?

CM: Dirty fighter? (laughing) Is that like a compliment? I don’t know. They’ve been saying that for the last two or three fights. I don’t know where that comes from. Maybe everybody is judging me from the fight against Kirkland, where I clinched him, but they say I use my head and I don’t. I’ve never head-butted anybody. I just keep my head down so I don’t get head-butted. I’ve been cut many times before, and I just learned to keep my head down.

KOD: The other knock on you is more common among fans, who say that you’re a “boring fighter.” Now, they say that about a lot of guys, including Floyd Mayweather, who is the greatest fighter in the sport. How do you respond to that?

CM: Every fight that I’m in, I’m always throwing punches, I’m always the aggressor, I’m always bringing the fight, but they want to see the knockout. They don’t appreciate my boxing in there. I’m a boxing technician. That's the way I learned how to fight. I throw a lot of punches, but all I can do is perform at my best.

Mayweather is the goal for Molina
KOD: Certainly, you don’t want to overlook your opponent, but in the event that you win and defend your title for the first time, what would be the ideal next step? What are some of your goals in the sport that you’ve yet to achieve?

CM: We’re not looking past him, we’re taking it fight by fight. Before, the goal was to win the world title, but now that I’ve won the title, my goal is to keep it. In order for me to keep the world title, I need to focus on the fight ahead of me. I’m happy winning my fight right now—I’m not even thinking other fights. I couldn’t get Canelo and obviously everyone wants to fight Mayweather. That’s my main goal before he retires. All I can do is control what I’m doing. If I win my next few fights in a row, then I’m right there for a Mayweather fight.

KOD: What’s your prediction for the Charlo fight next weekend?

CM: I’m going to take any opportunity I can to take him out. In the later rounds, I’ll push for the stoppage. I need the stoppage because I can’t afford another controversial decision. I feel I can get Charlo frustrated and work him real good.

KO UPDATE (3/7/14 - 4PM EST): Carlos Molina was arrested in Las Vegas on Tuesday March 4th, just five days before his scheduled bout with Jermall Charlo on the Canelo-Angulo "Toe To Toe" undercard. Molina was jailed for failing to register as a sex offender in Wisconsin, this having to do with a sexual relationship he allegedly engaged in with a 14 year old girl when he was himself just 18. Molina is now 30 years of age. There were also immigration issues complicating matters and efforts to free him in time to weigh in today at 3PM PT for the fight were unsuccessful. As of this writing, Molina is still behind bars and his title fight with Charlo has been scrapped. Molina's current status as IBF junior middleweight champion is now in question but it seems doubtful that he'll be allowed to keep his title.   

Molina was finally released from jail in mid-April and returned to Mexico City.
The IBF junior middleweight champion has since signed with boxing powerbroker Al Haymon.

The Future of Boxing
KO Digest Interview conducted by Joel "The Future" Sebastianelli
Joel joined KO Digest in January 2013 and has been a fixture on press row in the New England area for three years. In 2012, he served as the host of “The Boxing Fix” on Leave it in the Ring Radio. Sebastianelli is the future of boxing journalism and broadcasting. 

Joel can be found Tweeting on Twitter @JJSebastianelli