By John J. Raspanti
Three months ago in Legionowo, Poland, heavyweight Mike Mollo knocked out favored Karzysztof Zimnoch in barely two minutes.
The Polish faithful were stunned. They expected to see, Zimnoch, who entered the bout undefeated, to defeat the American.
Instead, Chicago-native Mollo (21-5, 13 KOs) hurt Zimnoch with a chilling inside hook. The punch left the Polish prospect rubbery-legged and languishing on the ropes--like a man in quicksand.
Mollo took advantage. He jumped inside and let his hands go. Within seconds, after Zimnoch tried to escape, a big right handed flush.
Zimnoch teetered before going down hard. He struggled to get up, but couldn’t beat the fatal 10 count. Mollo let out a victory yell.
Traveling to another country to win a fight seems risky, at best. Everything favors the hometown boxer. But Mollo, who’s been fighting professionally for 16 years, knows the pitfalls. He’s taken on all comers despite encountering multiple injuries, biased judges, and an unhinged referee over the course of his career.
For him, trekking halfway across the world to fight is no big deal.
“Winning on the road is not easy, but it’s possible,” Mollo told this writer via email a few days ago. “I feel that God is opening doors for me. Then so be it.”
When Mollo knocked out Kevin McBride 10 years ago, a world title shot seemed inevitable. But a couple of bitter loses and various managerial issues sidelined him for months. When he returned to the ring in 2013, the rust was evident, but he still managed to floor Artur Spzilka twice before running out of gas and being stopped. Mollo lost a rematch to Szpilka in another give-and-take war six months later.
Mollo, 36, considered retirement, but his fighter’s heart wouldn’t let him quit. He wanted another shot.
The chance came in Poland last February.
“This was an opportunity for me to change my career,” said Mollo.
Change it he did.
Now he’s back on the road, but this time it’s to the Ukraine to face Andriy Rudenko, who sports a record of 27 wins and only two losses.
Mollo spent some time a few weeks ago studying videos of Rudenko on YouTube.
“I watched some clips of him," Mollo said."I feel that he doesn’t have enough to keep me off of him. I don’t think he has enough ability to beat me.”
Mollo is all about guts and power. He believes he has the strategic moves to defeat Rudenko.
“My plans are simple,” said Mollo. “I’ll need to apply pressure on May 6, keep my hands moving, and fight smart. I stick to that and he’ll fold.”
If he beats Rudenko, Mollo will bring home another championship strap--and some good old-fashioned American pride.