In Southern California the two fighters whose names keep popping up when you talk about knockout power are John Molina and Michael Franco.
Molina is a high-powered lightweight from Covina and Franco is a sleep-inducing bantamweight from Riverside.
Between them they have 33 pro fights with 24 ending in quick violence.
Franco and Molina won’t be fighting each other in the ring but are lobbying for fans in the Inland area to attend their fights on Saturday Nov. 28. Franco headlines the Spotlight 29 Casino card while Molina showcases his skills at Pechanga Resort and Casino.
Molina (18-0, 14 KOs) has faced the stiffer competition to this point and just might receive his toughest fight to date when he slugs it out with Mexico’s Martin Honorio (26-4-1, 14 KOs) in a lightweight contest.
Honorio, a rugged and sometimes bend-the-rules kind of fighter, has battled with several world champions including current IBF junior lightweight titleholder Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. He also has the only win against current WBO featherweight titleholder Steve Luevano. He’s not an easy guy to fight.
Molina is a former high school wrestler and relatively a newcomer to boxing whose speed and power have enabled him to overcome shortcomings in his defense and experience. With his ability to attack quickly he forces the opposition to worry about defense.
Now 26, Molina had a brief sojourn as an amateur boxer before jumping into the professional ranks where his style of aggressive stalking is more suited and appreciated. So far 18 opponents have discovered that his lack of boxing experience can’t offset his firepower. Honorio will provide a stern test.
“He has a ton of experience, has been in there with the best and has beaten some of the guys I consider to be the best counter-punchers in the game,” stated Molina, who is ranked among the top 30 lightweights in the world. “I expect an explosive fight and to come out victorious.”
Wins over Efren Hinojosa, Frankie Archuleta and Carlos Vinan are OK, but beating someone like Honorio will turn heads. Most of Molina’s fights to date have had regional impact, but a win over a tough Mexican like Honorio will have international repercussions.
For most of the beginning of his boxing career he was taught the fundamentals by South El Monte’s Ben Lira who professes a more conservative defensive boxing approach. For the last year he’s changed camps and now is trained by the more offensive-minded Joe Goossen the younger brother of promoter Dan Goossen.
It’s a big change.
Four consecutive knockout wins have been the result under the Goossen style that also saw the Van Nuys based trainer guide the late Diego “Chico” Corrales, Joel Casamayor and brothers Gabe and Rafael Ruelas.
A win by Molina has a sudden impact on the lightweight division where many see him battling Robert Guerrero or Mexico’s new star Juan Carlos Salgado in the near future. For tickets call (888) 732-4264.
In Coachella, about 70 miles east of Temecula, it’s Riverside’s bantamweight slugger Franco who faces his biggest test against Colombia’s Kermin Guardia a former world champion in the strawweight division who replaces Nicky Bentz.
Franco (15-0, 10 KOs) is tall for the 118-pound bantamweight division and packs a lot of power in both fists. Though not particularly fast, he’s extremely strong with long arms and knows how to use them. He’s also very disciplined and ready to fight at a moment’s notice. He’s ready for Guardia.
“I see no threat that he brings beside his experience,” says Franco who recently signed a promotional contract with Don Chargin Promotions. “It feels great to have a promoter behind me. Now I can just focus on my training.”
Franco has passed some relatively difficult tests but few promoters were willing to sponsor the Mohawk wearing fighter with shocking power and a solid chin. Franco doesn’t have the amateur background nor the impressive speed, but he does have a strong following whether he fights in Las Vegas or Coachella. His fans do follow.
Steve Quinonez, a former lightweight contender, is staging his first fight card under Champion Promotions that also includes mixed martial arts and wanted Franco as the main event. He lives in Palm Springs and fought as recently as March 2009. He’s retired now and wants to keep his foot in the world of boxing.
“This is the next best thing to boxing,” said Quinonez, who is also a contractor. “I don’t get hit working as a promoter.”
For tickets (800) 585-3737.
Fights on television
Sat. HBO, 10 p.m., Librado Andrade (28-2) vs. Lucien Bute (24-0)
Sat. Showtime, 11 p.m., John Molina (18-0) vs. Martin Honorio (26-4-1).
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?