MONTEBELLO, CALIF-Southern California’s John Molina doesn’t need to prove his power any longer; he has enough to light up Hollywood Boulevard or Whittier Boulevard for that matter.
Instead, the next generation Diego Corrales is learning to box.
In front of a few hundred people short of a sell out - due to the Lakers-Spurs game a few miles away and the Dodgers-Cardinals game two miles north of that - Molina showed the crowd at the Quiet Cannon that despite facing Mexico’s iron chinned Jose Alfredo Lugo (9-2), he can still learn on the job.
Then grab a knockout when it’s convenient.
Molina (12-0, 9 KOs) played with Lugo for three rounds, accepting exchanges on the ropes, slipping to the side when Lugo missed and fighting inside toe-to-toe and shoulder-to-shoulder. It’s all part of his trainers Ben Lira’s mad master plan.
Lira wants his pupil to learn that power is a great asset for any boxer, but power alone can’t win every fight.
“He’s going to come up against a guy someday that can take his shot, then what’s he going to do?” Lira said while training Molina for this fight. “He’s got to learn the little things.”
In the first round Molina wobbled Lugo with a right hand in the middle of the round. The old Molina would have pounced on him like an alley cat spotting an unobservant mouse. But he backed off and worked on his jab and defensive leg movement. In the last 30 seconds of the round Molina fired a five-punch combination that rocketed concussive blows in blinding speed.
When both fighters returned to their corner, Lugo’s people were telling him, “He doesn’t want it, go after him.” Lugo looked up at his corner in semi-shock. The Los Mochis, Mexican fighter had just tasted Molina’s power and it didn’t match the description his corner was telling him.
The second round saw Lugo dive into exchange with Molina, a tall lightweight who fights out of the small suburban town of Covina. That’s home to plenty of Major League baseball players but boxers, no. Lugo buried his head into Molina’s chest who kept his arms tucked in tight and eyes glued to his opponent.
Molina entered the third round more intent to use his jab and counters. Lugo moved him to the ropes again where he took more punishment as Molina used the ropes to move back and counter. A few right uppercuts snapped Lugo’s head back, but nothing severe.
In the fourth round, Molina’s trainer may have decided that his pupil had enough lessons for the day because the lanky bomber stopped backing into the ropes and fired a double right hand that shook Lugo. The Mexican fighter tried to fight off the attack but got his head snapped back hard by a vicious right hand counter. A right hand followed by a left hook had Lugo careening from one corner to the other. Then Molina opened up with a crisp three-punch combination that sunk Lugo like he was the Titanic.
Fight over, said referee David Mendoza at 2:15 of the fourth round.
Except for one fight, five others ended in knockout fashion at the Quiet Cannon, which is located in a golf course about one mile east of East L.A.’s border.
Freddie Roach brought talented Irish welterweight fighter Dean Byrne (7-0), who battered Michelangelo Lynks (6-7-2), forcing referee Mendoza to stop the fight after the first knockdown
Russian welterweight import Max Skayzer (2-0) blitzed Stockton’s John Dunham (0-1-1) with a left hook that dropped him in the first round. He used his legs to avoid more contact. But another blistering attack in the beginning of the second round forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to halt the fight at 42 seconds into the second round. The Russian fighter scored his second knockout in two fights.
Riverside’s Hector Serrano (7-0, 3 KOs) scored a technical knockout over Las Vegas fighter Terrence Jett (3-10-2) at the end of the third round. Serrano was returning to battle after engaging in one of the most brutal lightweight contests last year I’ve ever seen. This time it was Jett’s cut right eye that forced a stoppage.
Las Vegas middleweight southpaw Tom Rittengaugh (3-2-2) dropped Burbank’s debuting Ian Muleon (0-1) in the first round, then cruised to victory by decision 40-35 twice and 39-36.
The most impressive fighter was Moreno Valley’s Artemio Reyes (1-0), who in his pro debut walked in at 144 pounds against Oxnard’s Raymundo Inda (0-2-1) at 148. The weight differential didn’t matter. Reyes' crisp jabs and combinations found their mark. A razor sharp one-two dropped Inda, who wasn’t a bad fighter. It’s just that Reyes looks to be one of those fighters with all of the tools, kind of like John Molina. Referee Mendoza wisely stopped the fight at 1:09 of the first round for a technical knockout win for Reyes.