SANTA FE – The climb from boxing up-and-comer to world-class fighter can be long and arduous.
The trip from world-class fighter to has-been can be cruelly short and shockingly swift.
John Molina vs. Dannie Williams, seven other fights, 6 p.m., SFIS’ Pueblo Pavilion. Tickets: $25-$35, holdmyticket.com
John Molina and Dannie Williams, the combatants in tonight’s main event at the Santa Fe Indian School’s Pueblo Pavilion, have a combined record of 46 wins and only four losses. Yet, says Jack Loew, Williams’ trainer: “It’s a crossroads fight for each kid.
“I think the loser of this fight is in deep (trouble),” Loew said. “And the winner goes on to bigger and better things.”
The Williams-Molina fight, scheduled for 12 rounds with the North American Boxing Organization lightweight (135-pound) title at stake, is part of an ESPN2 national telecast and headlines an eight-bout card.
The semi-main event is an eight-round middleweight bout matching Brandon Gonzales (16-0, 10 knockouts) of Sacramento, Calif., against Don Mouton (12-4, 10 KOs) of Houston.
Albuquerque lightweight Archie Ray Marquez (14-2, 9 KOs) will fight a six-round bout against Rynell Griffin (6-11-2) of New Orleans.
Marquez’s bout will not make the ESPN2 telecast unless there’s an early stoppage in the main event, the co-main or both.
Molina (24-2, 19 KOs), of Covina, Calif., had hoped to punch his world-class ticket in September, when he faced Antonio DeMarco in Oakland, Calif., for the WBC lightweight title. Instead, he got punched – knocked out in the first round.
Loew said he and his fighter are aware that Molina’s promotional firm, Goossen-Tutor Promotions, is hoping to use Williams (22-2, 19 KOs) as a launchpad toward another world title shot.
Williams, Loew said, is equally intent on the reverse.
“I think it’s a great fight for Dannie,” Loew said. “Molina stands right in front of you, and Dannie’s a big puncher.”
Molina’s loss to DeMarco, Loew said, was a nonfactor in Williams’ preparation for tonight’s fight.
“He got caught cold in the first round; we’re not going by that,” Loew said. “He’s strong, he’s big, but he gets hit a lot. And I don’t think they should have picked a puncher like Dannie.”
Goossen-Tutor and ESPN2 certainly have done Molina no favors in matching him with Williams, who is from St. Louis but trains with Loew in Youngstown, Ohio.
Molina has no complaints.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Molina said. “(Williams) is a world-class fighter, as I am. We’re taking him very serious, and I’m just grateful that he and his trainer took the challenge, and we’re gonna put on a great show for everyone here in Santa Fe.
“… I’ve got a lot to prove, and so does Dannie.”
Loew did not disagree.
“You only get so many opportunities at this level to get to that next level,” he said. “Once you get to that next level, they give you a few byes here and there, but on the way up the losers always take a couple of steps backward.
“(Williams) can’t afford that. He has to win this fight.”
NOTES: World champion Austin Trout of Las Cruces attended Thursday’s weigh-in. Light heavyweight Siju Shabazz, Trout’s friend and training partner, is scheduled to fight tonight – provided an opponent can be found. Two prospective opponents have fallen out.
… Williams initially weighed in a half-pound over the 135-pound limit, but returned to the scale some 20 minutes later and hit 135.
— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal