SAN DIEGO, December 10, 2016 – Terence “Bud” Crawford planned on entertaining his hometown Omaha fans once more time before the end of 2016, courtesy a bout with veteran opponent John Molina Jr. of California on Saturday.
But the fight found itself on shaky ground Friday after Molina failed to make weight. It wasn’t even close. Molina hit the scale at 144 pounds, four pounds over the limit. This might as well be 20 pounds in boxing. Molina had two hours to try and make the limit, but everyone knew it wasn’t happening. His second weigh-in was 143.4 pounds.
So what’s the story? Molina claimed he trained in exactly the same manner as he did for his upset win in June against Ruslan Provodnikov. “I’m 33 years old, and I can’t make the weight limit anymore.” It was this fight that gave him the chance to fight against Crawford, among the top pound for pound fighters in the world today.
Crawford, the 2014 Fighter of the Year making a good case for himself again in 2016, and lineal, unified WBO and WBC 140-pound champion, doesn’t have much to fear from Molina. It was up to his team to decide whether the fight should go forward. His titles won’t be on the line even if Molina wins, and Molina must give up a portion of his purse as a penalty.
When a boxer comes in so heavy for his division, it’s often on purpose. Molina may have decided he’d have a better chance of winning at a higher weight, belts be damned. It worked for Orlando Salido when he handed Vasyl Lomachenko his only loss. But it doesn’t mean fans have to like it.
Crawford has dominated his opponents including his most recent bout with Ukrainian Viktor Postol. This fight is a victory lap and a gift to the loyal fan base in the Midwest. No one expected Molina to seriously challenge Crawford when Postol, Lundy, Dierry Jean, Dulorme, Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Ricky Burns couldn’t do it.
But fans should expect Molina to come to the bout prepared and in shape. It’s part of their job to make weight, and it’s also a safety issue when there is such a disparity in size between boxers. With someone as skilled as Crawford, who is truth isn’t all that far away from moving up to 147 pounds himself, it’s not the case.
Molina Jr. is a classic brawler who relies more on blunt force than finesse. He challenged for a world title in 2012, and returns to the ring after a career high point in June, his upset of heavily favored former junior welterweight champ Ruslan Provodnikov. It greatly improved Molina’s rankings and put him in position for Saturday’s bout.
Nevertheless, even if you believe any man has a puncher’s chance of winning, Crawford is not only skilled, he is versatile in his ability to switch from orthodox to southpaw, and to box as well as bang. He is one of the rare fighters who can think through problems in the ring and solve them in real time, adjusting with ease. This is one of the rarest talents in boxing.
Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN there was no warning Molina might not make weight, and they are relieved they reached agreement on a side deal to let the bout continue.
For his trouble, Crawford will not lose his belts in the unlikely situation he loses to Molina. Molina will give up some of his $400,000 purse to Crawford. Crawford is being paid $1.5 million for this hometown showcase bout, meant to please his hometown fan base and keep him uppermost in mind among fans who will look forward to seeing him against more meaningful opposition in 2017.
In the HBO co-main event, veterans Raymundo Beltran (31-7-1, 19 KOs) of Mexico and now fighting out of Phoenix faces Mason Menard (32-1, 24 KOs) of Louisiana in one of those career preserving fights for both veterans. Since he lost to Crawford in 2014, Beltran, 35, has two impressive knockout win. Menard, 28, has also defeated his last three opponents via knockout.
Opening the HBO broadcast is a replay of Saturday’s world heavyweight title bout held earlier in the day in Auckland, New Zealand between rising Kiwi star Joseph Parker (21-0, 18 KOs), 24, and Andy Ruiz (29-0, 19 KOs), 27, of Mexico. This is the first world title fight for two undefeated competitors, both of whom hope to become the first world heavyweight titleholder from their native countries.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA, is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. She is owner of the Falcon Valley Group based in San Diego, California. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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