BOXING

Crawford, Charlo and Mares Victorious in Title Fights

Terence Crawford Dominates John Molina for TKO Win

There were those who believed John Molina had a puncher’s chance against Terence Crawford. That was understandable but charitable. Crawford, the best 140-pound fighter around and one of the best boxers in the world, made it look as if Molina never had a chance at all.

Crawford cruised against Molina, winning every moment of every round en route to a technical knockout.

Crawford had eight rounds of target practice. Molina was readily available to be hit. And he was easily avoidable. Crawford had undone Viktor Postol, a far more talented foe than Molina, back in July. Molina would keep on trying until he couldn’t try anymore, although trying wasn’t going to do a darn thing for him.

Crawford normally starts slow, analyzing his opponent and then taking over. He didn’t need to this time. He landed early and often while dodging what Molina threw, moving around the ring smoothly and making Molina follow him. Molina increased his pressure in the second round. That didn’t help either. He remained an easy target with too little head movement. Crawford continued to strafe him with shots.

Through two, Crawford had landed 39 of 99, while Molina was just 6 of 45, according to CompuBox. It didn’t get much better for Molina. He’d come from behind to stop Hank Lundy in 2010 and Mickey Bey in 2013. None of the rare right hands he landed on Crawford made a dent or a difference. Molina’s corner told him to let his hands go and not to look for just one shot. It wasn’t that easy. Crawford, meanwhile, picked his spots and picked Molina apart. It was that easy.

A left hand from Crawford hurt Molina early in the sixth. Molina continued to essentially walk into the punishment. Crawford would land one, or many, and then move, and then start again. By the end of the seventh, a ringside physician checked in on Molina. Molina responded by coming out in the eighth and trying to turn the action in his favor. He couldn’t. Crawford had him hurt again toward the end of the round, forcing him into a corner and pounding away until the referee jumped in.

Crawford improved to 30-0 with 21 KOs, making his fourth successful defense as a 140-pound titleholder. He’s hoping for a big fight with Manny Pacquiao in 2017. In lieu of that, Crawford is hoping to add the remaining two world titles to the two he already has. That would mean fights with Julius Indongo, who just knocked out Eduard Troyanovsky in 40 seconds earlier this month, or with Ricky Burns, whom Crawford dethroned at lightweight back in early 2014.

Molina fell to 29-7 with 23 KOs. He’d lost three in a row in an 11-month period between 2014 and 2015, getting broken down in a competitive fight with Lucas Matthysse and then putting forth dismal efforts against Humberto Soto and Adrien Broner. But he’d bounced back with two straight wins, including a surprising decision victory over Ruslan Provodnikov this past June.

He failed to make weight for the Crawford fight, though, coming in more than three pounds over. Now he’ll likely head up to the 147-pound division, starting anew and, if he’s wise, against a level of opposition that he can actually compete with.

 

Jermall Charlo Thrills By Dropping, Stopping Julian Williams

Jermall Charlo was insulted that people considered his bout with 154-pound contender Julian Williams to be a 50-50 fight. He felt he was much better than Williams, and then he set about proving that in the clearest way possible, defending his title and dropping jaws in the process with a beautiful fifth-round technical knockout.

The end came after a highlight-reel counter. Williams had thrown a one-two combination. Charlo leaned away from the right hand, used his right glove to catch the shot and then turned back with a right uppercut. Williams collapsed forward in a heap, stumbled as he tried to get up, but was able to rise after the count of eight. He remained unsteady, didn’t try to hold, and didn’t remain upright for much longer. Charlo’s finishing barrage put Williams down once again. The referee wisely called things off.

It was a thrilling and decisive end. The bout had begun more evenly with a tactical first round in which each man tried to jab and counter the other. The first of three knockdowns on the evening came in the second round, when Charlo caught an approaching Williams with a stiff jab. Williams steadied himself and fired back.
Williams looked competitive and seemed to belong in there with Charlo. And then Charlo changed that with one punch.

Charlo is now 25-0 with 19 KOs. This was the third defense of a world title he won 15 months ago. It was his best defense, and also likely his last one, as he has been planning to move from the junior middleweight division up to middleweight.

Williams suffered his first pro defeat and is now 22-1-1 with 14 KOs.

 

Abner Mares Bounces Back, Wins Belt With Split Nod Over Cuellar

It had been quite some time since Abner Mares last held a world title.

His previous reign — the third in an undefeated streak that saw him win belts at 118, 122 and 126 — came to a sudden halt in August 2013, when Jhonny Gonzalez bounced him off the canvas and stopped him in the first round.

Mares tried again last year, losing a majority decision to Leo Santa Cruz. The defeat made it seem as if his best days were beyond him and that the cream of the featherweight division had surpassed him.

He still hasn’t proven himself against the top fighters of today at 126, but he did at least insert himself back into the conversation, winning a world title this past Saturday with a split decision over Jesus Cuellar.

Two judges had it for Mares, one seeing it 117-110 — nine rounds to three, with an additional point deducted from Cuellar for the knockdown he suffered in Round 11 — and the other seeing it 116-111, or eight rounds to four. The lone dissenting voice had it 115-112 for Cuellar, giving him eight rounds and crediting Mares with a mere four.

Cuellar came out aggressively, befitting his reputation. Mares had his moments as well in the opening rounds. But then Mares began to control the distance, taking slight steps back to avoid punches and counter, landing leads and building a lead on the scorecards. Cuellar battled back. He couldn’t take over, however. Mares dropped Cuellar with a right hand in the 11th, and unleashed a flurry with Cuellar on the ropes later in the round.

Mares spent parts of the 12th with a glove raised in the air, certain he’d done enough to win, not at all aware that one judge felt otherwise. Fortunately for Mares, only one of the three judges felt that way.

Mares is now 30-2-1 with 15 KOs. He wants the winner of the upcoming rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz. There are other 126-pounders he could seek out, including titleholders Gary Russell Jr., Lee Selby and Oscar Valdez.

Cuellar is now 28-2 with 21 KOs. This defeat ended an 11-fight winning streak that followed his lone previous loss, a seventh-round technical knockout at the hands of Oscar Escandon back in 2011. He wants a rematch with Mares.

“I gave him the opportunity,” Cuellar said through a translator afterward. “Now it’s fair that he give it back to me.”

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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