Chicago-based heavyweight Mike Mollo (21-5-1) is in Odessa, Ukraine for a Friday, May 6th fight against Andriy Rudenko (27-2). For Mollo, now 36 years old, this is his second fight of 2016 after a layoff of more than two and a half years.
The weigh-ins went down Wednesday afternoon. Mollo tipped the scales at 247 lbs, while his opponent Rudenko came in at a trim 231.7.
Mollo has been through a lot in the fight game. Discouraged by poor management that resulted in bad contracts and periods of inactivity, he left the game in 2013 after losing a pair of hard fought matches to Poland’s Artur Szpilka in Chicago and got a job working on water tower maintenance.
Szpilka went on to challenge Deontay Wilder for his WBC World belt. They met this past January, about the time that Mollo received a call from Polish promoters offering him a fight in Poland against returning prospect Krzystof Zimnoch (18-0-1). Mollo never strayed far from the gym and the idea of competing again got his competitve juices flowing. Mollo is from Chicago where there is a vast Polish population and he had competed against Polish fighters prior to Szpilka. In January of 2008 Mollo went the distance in a loss to Andrew Golota.
In an interview prior to his February fight, Mollo stated “he isn’t going to be able to keep me off of him.” Mollo made the prediction a reality as he steamrolled Zimnoch, knocking him out in the first round. Not long after, promoters from the Ukraine called with the offer to fight Rudenko.
For Mollo, the match presents an interesting opportunity. Keeping things in perspective, the American is a +400 underdog to Rudenko who is -550 at the sport books. Mollo, who stands 6’2″, is used to being the shorter man in the ring, but this time the stocky American will have an inch and a half advantage in height to go with over fifteen pounds in additional mass.
Rudenko has a 26-0 record in fights that take place in the Ukraine. His two losses were to Lucas Browne and Hughie Fury. Since those back-to-back setbacks, he has won three in a row against lesser competition. Rudenko’s official weight of 231.7 lbs is the lightest he has been for a fight since 2009.
The Rudenko versus Mollo fight is for the WBC’s vacant International Silver title. The fight takes place at Odessa’s 4 star Ministerium Hotel on Friday night and is the main event of promoter Viktoria Olshana’s five-fight card.