SANTA FE — Dannie Williams was doing just fine.
Then, in an instant, he wasn’t. No, not at all.
John Molina, seeking to re-establish himself as a major player in boxing’s 135-pound division, knocked out Williams with a thunderous right hand to the head in the fourth round Friday night at the Santa Fe Indian School’s Pueblo Pavilion.
Molina, from Covina, Calif., improved his record to 25-2 with 20 knockouts. He had lost his most recent bout by first-round knockout.
Williams, a St. Louis native who lives and trains in Youngstown, Ohio, is 22-3 with 18 KOs.
The scheduled 12-round bout, televised nationally on ESPN2, was for the vacant NABO lightweight title.
While by no means dominant, Williams appeared to give better than he got through the first three rounds. But, afterward, Molina said he felt things were going according to his plan.
“We were feeling out a few things, and we were happy with the way things were going,” he said. “With a puncher like Dannie, you can’t go in there and expect him not to come after you. It would have been stupid of me to do that, and at this level you don’t want do that.
“So we had to go in there and touch him a little bit, see what we was all about.”
Molina touched Williams a lot with the decisive right hand. Williams got to his feet late in the count, but found himself on the wrong side of the ropes as referee Rocky Burke signaled the end of the fight.
Molina, 30, said Friday’s victory, and the way it was accomplished — with a national TV audience looking on — was precisely the tonic his career needed.
“Now,” he said, “it’s on to bigger and better things.”
In the semi-main event, middleweight Brandon Gonzales remained unbeaten (17-0, 10 KOs) with a unanimous, eight-round decision over Houston’s Don Mouton.
The official scores were 78-75, 77-75 and 77-75.
Gonzales, of Sacramento, Calif., seemed in near complete control when he worked off the jab. Mouton fared better when Gonzales chose to fight inside.
The ESPN2 telecast was led off by Santa Fe junior welterweight Brandon Holmes, who scored a fourth-round TKO over Mexico’s Verardo Javier Esparza. It was the pro debut for Holmes, the son of co-promoter Pat Holmes. No record was listed for Esparza.
Holmes controlled the action from the outset against Esparza, who swung wildly when he punched at all. In the fourth, Holmes dropped Esparza with a right hand at the end of a combination. Esparza did not attempt to get off the canvas.
In a featured six-rounder, Albuquerque lightweight Archie Ray Marquez pounded out a victory by unanimous six-round decision over Rynell Griffin of New Orleans. The official scores were 58-57, 58-56 and 59-55.
Marquez (15-2, nine KOs) has won three straight after consecutive losses that threatened to derail his career. Griffin is 6-12-2 with two KOs.
In undercard bouts:
♦ Michael Coca Gallegos captured his elusive first professional victory with a first-round TKO of fellow Albuquerquean Alejandro Hernandez. Gallegos is 1-10-1. Hernandez made his pro debut.
♦ Flyweight Cecilia Renova, from Albuquerque’s Warriors Boxing Club, won by unanimous four-round decision against Española’s Amberly Trujillo. It was the pro debut for both fighters. All three judges scored the fight 40-36.
♦ In an entertaining, four-round junior welterweight bout, Los Lunas’s Eduardo Dominguez made a successful pro debut with a victory by unanimous decision (40-36, 39-37 twice) over Albuquerque’s Joshua Montoya (0-2).
A crowed estimated at 1,000 attended the card.