Thursday, June 6, 2013
Molina continues comeback against Klimov
By Bernardo Pilatti
Perennial lightweight contender John Molina Jr. returns to the main event of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" against Russia's Andrey Klimov at the Little Creek Casino Resort, in Shelton, Wash. (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET).
Molina (25-2, 20 KOs) is continuing his comeback trail after a first-round knockout loss to then-lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco last September. The native of Covina, Calif., bounced back nicely in January with a fourth-round stoppage of Dannie Williams.
Klimov (15-0, 8 KOs) is undefeated, but he's not proven in top-level fights.
The bout could be the ticket to a title shot for both fighters, who reached this stage of their careers on different paths.
The powerful Molina, 30, who surely will look to assert himself in hopes of an early knockout, says he is ready to win by any means necessary.
"I know I have to pay my dues and get back," Molina said. "Klimov, I've done my studying of him. He's a tough cat, undefeated. He's coming to win -- he's obviously not coming to lose. We're going to have to take it from him, and we're training for such.
"I'm very, very impressed that he took the fight with me, to be honest with you. Either they're in the position that they have to take any opportunity given to them, or they're very confident that the kid can beat me."
Molina, who will have trainer Robert Garcia in his corner for the second time, has been preparing for Klimov, also 30, with pretty good sparring partners in Oxnard, Calif.
"In the gym, we've got everyone from Marcos Maidana to Brandon Rios to the up-and-comers," Molina said. "We've got world-class sparring -- I believe light years ahead of Klimov. Of course, a fight is a fight and sparring is sparring, but I feel like the preparation has gone very well. I'm No. 3 in the world in the lightweight division and I'm bringing up the rear."
Klimov, the underdog, sees this battle as the opportunity of a lifetime.
"I'm a technical boxer," Klimov said through an interpreter. "John Molina is a fighter with a lot of professional experience, with very hard punching power, but I'm probably the best guy he's ever fought."
The fight also promises a confrontation of styles. Molina will be aggressive from the very beginning and will seek to connect with multiple combinations. His goal is clear: to score a KO.
"Klimov has a very European style, herky-jerky," Molina said. "But I've watched him on several occasions and the one punch he throws very well -- he sneaks that right uppercut underneath you where you don't see it. I've got to watch that, because I've been caught by that punch before. But now that I've got it in my head that he'll be throwing that punch, I'll be watching out for it."
In the co-main event, Philadelphia's Farrah Ennis (20-1, 12 KOs) and North Carolina's Anthony Hanshaw (23-2-2, 14 KOs) will meet in a 10-round super middleweight bout. Ennis is a former sparring partner for titlists Sakio Bika and Gennady Golovkin, and he enters with a three-fight winning streak.
Hanshaw was a standout amateur and was considered a promising prospect until he lost his undefeated status to Roy Jones Jr. in 2007. In his next fight, in 2008, Hanshaw was knocked out by Andre Dirrell. Personal problems and injuries sidetracked Hanshaw's career for four years until his return in October 2012, and he enters having won three straight.