HOUSTON -- Carlos Molina was cleaning James Kirkland's clock from start to bizarre finish in their junior middleweight fight on Saturday night at Reliant Arena, but it's always something in Texas.
Kirkland was awarded a 10th-round disqualification victory when Molina's corner entered the ring after the bell rang to end the round. However, Kirkland had dropped Molina just as the bell rang and officially the round was not over as referee Jon Schorle was giving Molina, who did not appear hurt, a count.
Molina beat the count, but after a few moments of confusion, Schorle waived his arms and disqualified Molina in a fight he was easily winning on the Erik Morales-Danny Garcia undercard.
"I've been refereeing for 29 years and that's the first time I ever had to do that," Schorle said.
Molina was ahead 88-83 on judge Dave Moretti's scorecard and 87-84 on David Sutherland's. Gale Van Hoy, who has authored some highly controversial scorecards, submitted another one as he had Kirkland shockingly ahead 86-85. ESPN.com had Molina ahead at the time of the disqualification, 89-82.
"I wanted to win fair and square," Kirkland said.
Molina (19-5-2, 6 KOs), 28, of Chicago, may have officially lost -- ending a 12-fight unbeaten streak in which he was 11-0-1, with the only blemish being a highly controversial draw with Erislandy Lara -- but the crowd was firmly on his side as he continued to show that he belongs among the top junior middleweights. Meanwhile, Kirkland (31-1, 27 KOs), 28, of Austin, Texas, looked as bad as he ever has.
Kirkland is known for his massive aggression, but the initial burst never came. And as rounds went by, he was unable to establish any offense. He looked slow and was unable to deal with Molina's movement. And then there were also the rights and lefts that Molina landed upside Kirkland's head.
"I take nothing away from Carlos Molina," Kirkland said. "He came to fight and he trained super-hard. As far as the stoppage, I'd prefer to keep going. I'd like to see what would've happened in the later rounds."
Round after round, Molina took it to Kirkland, who never could find any rhythm. Meanwhile, Molina landed rights and lefts, and although he was not hurting Kirkland, he was sure effective.
Even when Kirkland -- whose right eye and temple area were swelling -- dropped him at the end of the 10th round, Molina looked fine.
"I felt good. It was the end of the round and I got up right away," Molina said.
Anne Wolfe, Kirkland's trainer, wanted to see what Kirkland could have done in the final two rounds.
"I wanted see rounds 11 and 12," she said. "I would have rather seen it go 12 rounds. I feel like Carlos was holding a lot and he was up a little bit, but James dropped him and was coming on. What would've happened in 11 and 12? I would've liked to see."
Said Kirkland: "I just stuck to my game plan. He's awkward, crafty. I see why a lot of people have problems with him. I knew that he wanted to go 12 rounds. The game plan was to try to push him to the end. That's why I started out slow."
They were talking rematch after the fight.
"Yes, I would love to," Kirkland said of a possible sequel.
Said Molina: "We just counter, use defense, fight smart and win every round. Our goal was to win every single round, and I was winning every single round. I want a rematch as soon as possible."
Kirkland won his fourth fight in a row since being dropped three times in a shocking first-round knockout loss to unheralded Nobuhiro Ishida in April 2011 in the biggest upset of last year.
Molina has been something of a hard-luck fighter. He lost three decisions in a row spanning 2006 and 2007, including defeats to junior welterweight contender Mike Alvarado and future middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., whom he also drew with in a fight that most thought Molina won.
But after being idle from June 2009 until March 2011 while locked in a promotional battle with Don King, he came back and established himself as a top 154-pounder with wins against Kermit Cintron and Allen Conyers, plus the controversial draw with Lara.
"I don't know if it's my record or what it is, but it seems to happen to me all the time," Molina said of the latest controversial outcome.
• Houston junior middleweight Jermell Charlo (17-0, 8 KOs), the 21-year-old twin brother of Jermall Charlo (who also won on the undercard), scored a sensational one-punch knockout of Chicago's Chris Chatman (10-2-1, 5 KOs) in the third round. Chatman's only previous loss was a six-round decision to 2008 U.S. Olympian and blue-chip prospect Demetrius Andrade in 2009, but he was no match for Charlo, who controlled his awkward opponent for most of the fight. In the third round, he landed a flush straight right hand to Chatman's chin and knocked him out flat on his back at 1 minute, 22 seconds.
• Lightweight Jamie Kavanagh (9-0-1, 4 KOs), 21, who is from Ireland but lives and trains in Hollywood, Calif., suffered a cut over his right eye in the first round but stormed back to badly bust up the left eye of Cesar Cisneros (3-4-2, 1 KO) of Bradenton, Fla., en route to a fifth-round knockout. Kavanagh dropped Cisneros with a left hand in the first round after suffering the cut. By the third round, Cisneros' left eye was a bleeding, swollen wreck. Cisneros was taking punishment and the eye was getting worse when the referee called it off at 2 minutes, 28 seconds of the fifth round.
• Welterweight Lanard Lane (13-1, 8 KOs), who works for the Houston fire department, extinguished Milton Ramos (7-3-2, 0 KOs) of Waco, Texas, with a knockout in the eighth and final round. Lane dominated the fight to end Ramos' five-fight winning streak. Lane swelled Ramos' eyes and dropped him to his knees with a combination in the sixth round. Lane was dishing out punishment after the knockdown, but Ramos sopped it up until the eighth round when Lane was teeing off, forcing the referee to call off the fight at 1 minute, 34 seconds.
• Houston junior middleweight Jermall Charlo (9-0, 5 KOs) abused Shawn Wilson (5-9, 1 KO) of Omaha, Neb., en route to a fifth-round knockout. Charlo, a 21-year-old prospect, dominated from the outset against the smaller Wilson. Charlo bloodied his nose in the first round and had him in defensive mode immediately. Charlo dropped him with a pair of right hands in the third round, had him reeling badly late in the fourth round and then dropped him with a right to the body in the fifth round. Wilson made it to his feet but was in trouble immediately. Under Charlo's enormous pressure, Wilson went down again and the fight was called off at 2 minutes, 21 seconds.
• Junior middleweight Daquan Arnett (2-0, 1 KO), a 19-year-old from Orlando, Fla., needed a single well-placed right uppercut to knock out Fabian Cancino (0-4) of San Antonio at 1 minute, 51 seconds of the first round. Cancino dropped to his knees and failed to beat the count.
The welterweight undercard fight between former lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo and Jose Cotto, the older brother of junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto, was canceled on Friday when Castillo, for at least the fourth time in his career, failed to make weight.
For a fight contracted at 145 pounds, Cotto (32-3-1, 24 KOs) weighed 144½ pounds, but the long-faded Castillo (63-11-1, 54 KOs), added to the show by Golden Boy Promotions as a favor to Castillo's pal Morales, was 147¾ pounds.
Castillo made no effort to shed the extra weight, and Cotto, already coming up in weight from a smaller division, declined to allow Castillo the weight advantage, so the fight was canceled.
Castillo famously missed weight for high-profile televised lightweight championship fights against the late Diego Corrales, for their second and third fights. The third fight was canceled when Castillo didn't make the 135-pound limit and resulted in multiple lawsuits. Castillo also blew the 140-pound limit for a title eliminator against Timothy Bradley Jr., and that fight was also canceled.