CRAWFORD vs MOLINA — In his last bout he literally took apart a giant for the weight and an undefeated fighter in Viktor Postol who entered the fight 28-0, highly touted, and in possession of the WBC and lineal junior welterweight titles. Prior to the bout there were many who openly stated that Postol had the size, punch, experience and mindset to derail the streaking to stardom Terence Crawford, but by the start of the sixth round, Postol had been down twice, and from the mid-point of the bout onward, it was no longer a question if Crawford was going to win; the only question was whether he would knock Postol out or win a lopsided decision. Crawford put on a boxing clinic the likes of Floyd Mayweather, displaying speed, masterful skill and more than adequate punching power. By the end of the fight, it looked as if Postol had virtually given up trying to win and just wanted to go the distance. At the conclusion of the 12th round the decision was a forgone conclusion.
Well, that was four months ago and this Saturday night Crawford 29-0 (20) will risk his WBO/WBA titles against John Molina Jr. 29-6 (23) at the CenturyLink Arena in Omaha, Nebraska. The fight will air on HBO Championship Boxing. Molina, in the eyes of some, is riding a high, based off of his unanimous decision win over the crude and brawling Ruslan Provodnikov this past June. However, Molina had lost three of his previous four going into the Provodnikov bout. He lost to Lucas Matthysse, Humberto Soto, and then in his last high profile fight before beating Provodnikov he was outclassed by the inconsistent Adrien Broner.
In Crawford vs. Molina, it’s another case of a limited and tough fighter, Molina, trying to navigate his way past a remarkably gifted and hungry-to-achieve-greatness fighter in Terence Crawford. What can Molina do or where can he take Crawford to give himself a chance to win? It almost doesn’t seem fair. Toughness and guts are a necessity in being a fighter, and they may take you the closest to the top, but they’re not enough — especially when the other guy is tough and also has the better tools. If you think about it, Crawford is the better and more accurate puncher, he’s faster and harder to hit…and he has the better offensive arsenal.
Some boxing observers talk about fighters as if they’re robots. Figuring if fighter A does this and doesn’t do that, he’ll prevent fighter B from getting the upper hand. What they wrongly forget is that Fighter B is also getting paid and what if he can prevent A from doing what he needs to do? Then what?
Back in May of 2015, Molina really couldn’t do a thing with Broner. And guess what, Crawford is Broner’s father. He does everything in the ring better than Broner, and what makes the task even more difficult for Molina is that Crawford is a much more serious guy than the off-and-on-again clown than Adrien is. Against Broner, Molina clammed up and didn’t do a thing for an overwhelming majority of the bout. If he does that against Crawford and fails to gain a modicum of respect from Terence, Crawford will torture him the way a house cat does a mouse…only it’ll be more painful.
Sure, Molina looked good against Provodnikov, but Ruslan was shopworn and stylistically, not only are he and Crawford on different levels, they’re completely different. A brawler like Provodnikov has a short shelf life. All the wars and punches he took during his career, especially against Matthysse, took mostly everything out of him. He was vulnerable to a fighter who had more energy and was fighting for his career, not to mention Molina had a little more left in the tank. But Crawford is the real deal and will have an answer for whatever plan of attack Molina tries to employ.
Crawford will be able to pick his spots and turn it on almost when he chooses because Molina will be right there and trying to figure out something that might work. There’s no sense getting into the hypothetical scenarios which suggest Molina should try to cut the ring off and rough Crawford up. He’s simply not good enough to push Crawford and make him work without getting dismantled in the process. Actually, the more he attempts to push the fight and makes Crawford work and fight, the worse it’ll be for him because he’ll be engaging with Terence. With Crawford getting there first with more, it’ll be a long night for Molina. Conversely, if he doesn’t carry the fight to Crawford, he’ll be in no man’s land and will be methodically dissected.
Like the other Molina fighting this weekend, Eric, John is running into the wrong fighter at the wrong time. Although I expect John Molina to put up a better fight than Eric will against Anthony Joshua, it is Eric, due to the fact he’s a heavyweight, that has a better chance to post the upset.
Crawford may not be as flashy as Vasyl Lomachenko or as dominant as Roman Gonzalez, but he is more complete and more fundamentally sound than both. He is on the verge of signing a potential blockbuster fight against Manny Pacquiao, and if he takes Manny apart, he’ll be recognized as the best pound-for-pound fighter in professional boxing. Crawford said he isn’t even thinking about Pacquiao; that his focus is on defeating Molina. If you’re John Molina Jr., that’s not a good sign.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com