By Michael Norby: In a NABO junior middleweight title upset, late substitute Carlos Molina fought his way to a well earned and clear victory on Friday night by out-hustling former 147lb world title challenger Danny Perez through 12 rounds at The Mahi Shrine Temple in Miami, Florida, USA.
Perez 34-5 (17) had been expecting to face former world champion Carlos Quintana until the slick lefty pulled out through illness. A marked underdog in that contest, Perez suddenly found himself facing a gritty but definitely beatable opponent in the form of Molina 17-4-1 (5). Through twelve rounds, however, Perez was soundly beaten by an aggressive young foe who thoroughly out-worked the former contender from the second round forward.
Both guys came out energetically and willing to fight from the opening bell and each man scored regularly with brisk combination punching from the inside. Molina’s soft body told the story of the six days notice that he had before entering the ring but he fought well throughout a close and busy three minutes that failed to produce a clear frontrunner.
Perez tried to force some separation with his jab to begin the second and he was successful early – driving right hands upstairs in the opening seconds from range. It wasn’t long, however, before Molina bullied his way inside and raked the Californian with short punches upstairs. The 26-year-old forced Perez to dig a fox-hole and fight inside for a majority of the frame and he scored beautifully with hooks to the head and body in the closing minute.
Molina opened the third with a terrific counter left hook as Perez threw out a casual right hand and the Mexican, buoyed by that success, stepped on the gas and forced his opponent backwards with a sustained onslaught of punches – reducing Perez to single punch connects, thrown from the back foot, for much of the round.
This was good stuff by Molina and he continued to pour it on in the fourth and fifth rounds as Perez began to look decidedly puzzled with little answer to his opponent’s tenacity. Molina touched his opponent upstairs and down with three and four punch combinations and ducked under much of what was thrown at him as the fight entered the middle rounds.
Perhaps Molina’s lack of preparation was the reason for the clear slowing of his punch output in the sixth round. The smaller man had lost some of his energy in this frame but, what he lacked in offense now, he made up for with fine defensive work. Perez attacked more effectively behind his jab but, when he tried to put meat on the bones of his more frequent attacking, he was smothered by Molina and constantly ate short bursts of punches before separation was re-established.
Molina was landing the cleaner and more telling punches in the fight thus far. He continued to do so in the seventh as he snapped his opponent’s head back with a beautiful uppercut midway through the round and followed that with a stinging straight right hand thirty seconds later. Perez huffed and puffed forward but he was largely ineffective and, as the fight crossed into the late stages, Molina had pocketed a vast majority of frames.
There was little urgency from Perez, though, and he found himself absorbing more combinations in the eighth round as the gnat-like Molina tore into him consistently with both hands. The young Mexican had not hurt Perez up until this point, but he didn’t have to, and his relentless pursuit of the veteran had surely by now sent Perez into the knockout required stage.
Perez managed to enjoy sporadic success in the ninth and tenth rounds as Molina’s output again began to deteriorate. The 32-year-old took advantage of a suddenly messier version of the opponent that had caused him fits until this point. The American landed a scattering of tasty right hands as Molina charged inside and seemed to have grasped the momentum with Molina’s engine now running on fumes.
Molina proved his grit, however, and he did what he needed to do in the championship rounds to frustrate Perez. He doggedly fought his way to the inside – eating and offering punches in the process – and managed to smother Perez in close before unleashing those three and four punch combinations that had been so prominent in his success all night long.
Scores: 118-110; 119-109; 119-109
Young lightweight prospect Ira Terry eked out a majority decision victory over light punching southpaw Leon Bobo in an uninspiring eight rounder.
The opening portion of the fight was fought at a measured pace with Terry 22-2 (12) sporadically coming forward against his taller but relatively timid opponent. With only two knockouts in 21 fights, Bobo 18-3-1 (2) hardly presented a power hazard for the stronger, shorter Terry but, for the first two rounds, he was allowed to pick his spots at distance and held his own throughout those frames.
Terry bounded forward in the third, however, and scored regularly to the head and body at close quarters. He continued to outwork his opponent in the fourth – mostly trumping Bobo’s modest output of accurate right jab/left hand sequences with greater volume and aggression.
Bobo enjoyed his best moments of the contest in the fifth and sixth rounds when Terry stared at the tall southpaw – electing to roll his shoulders instead of letting his hands go. This allowed the 30-year-old to focus and he connected with numerous long straight left hands that sent Terry into retreat and tightened the contest as the fight entered the final rounds.
Early in the seventh a clash of heads affected the left eye of Bobo and forced him on the defensive for a majority of the round. Clearly bothered by the incident, he covered up against the ropes and absorbed a slew of steady punches from the fists of Terry. The momentum that he had built up over the previous two rounds evaporated and, after a messy eighth and final frame, a pair of judges decided that Terry had done just enough to pick up his 22nd professional victory.
Scores: 76-76; 77-75; 77-75