- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Junior middleweight titlist Carlos Molina is out of jail and in his native Mexico training while his team -- which now includes adviser Al Haymon, with whom he recently signed -- tries to sort out his immigration issues.
Molina was due to defend his 154-pound belt for the first time against Jermall Charlo on March 8 in Las Vegas on the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo Showtime PPV card. However, a few days before the fight, Molina was arrested in Las Vegas on an outstanding warrant in Wisconsin for failing to register as a sex offender, and the fight was canceled. While in custody, immigration officials discovered that Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) was in the United States illegally because he had previously had his permanent residency revoked in 2005.
Molina, a permanent resident at the time, had gone to Mexico to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and when he returned, immigration officials picked him up as deportable because of the felony conviction from years earlier. Rather than fight deportation, Molina agreed to be deported but later snuck back into the U.S. illegally, which was discovered during the time he was being held in Las Vegas in March.
Molina, 30, who is from Mexico but has lived for many years in Chicago, hopes signing with Haymon, the most powerful adviser in boxing, will open doors for him and help him get his situation straightened out.
"I'm really excited and looking forward to fighting the best out there," he said. "Al Haymon has a history of getting the big fights for guys and that's what I wanted. He will make a great addition to my team, which already includes Warriors Boxing and Leon [Margules] and Luis [De Cubas Sr.], who have always done right by me in my career."
Margules, who heads Warriors Boxing and is also an attorney, is working on Molina’s immigration issues.
“We’re optimistic [about having his permanent residency re-established], but we don’t know,” Margules said. “Carlos is excited to work with Al, who is going to help us get him the important fights he's always wanted.”
DeCubas has been with Molina in Mexico and has been impressed with his conditioning, despite the time he spent in jail in Las Vegas followed by time in immigration custody before being deported to Mexico about two weeks ago.
"I spent time with Carlos in Mexico, and he's in surprisingly great shape,” DeCubas said. “He did 20 rounds his first day back and ran for an hour. I was very excited to see that. In that altitude, that's amazing."
Molina said he expects to be ready to fight in June or July. He has a mandatory defense due against former titleholder Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (33-5, 19 KOs), who outpointed Joey Hernandez on Jan. 24 in an eliminator to become the mandatory challenger.
However, Molina on Wednesday requested an exception from the IBF in order to reschedule the optional defense against Charlo (18-0, 14 KOs), also a Haymon fighter, before fighting the mandatory.
It’s possible Molina’s next fight could take place in Mexico if he has not resolved the immigration issues or, if he does, he could be back fighting in the U.S.