By John J. Raspanti
Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?
Slugger John Molina Jr. (29-6, 23 KOs) boxed and punched his way to a hard-fought 12 round unanimous decision over former WBO junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov (25-5, 18 KOs) Saturday night at the Turning Point Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Molina Jr. had mentioned boxing more in the weeks leading up to the bout. Not many experts believed him. He entered the fight a substantial underdog.
In round one, Molina Jr. fired his jab--while Provodnikov stalked. Both men exchanged hard blows to the head. Provodnikov connected with a wicked shot to the ribs. Molina Jr., using the ring, drilled Provodnikov with a clubbing right to the chin at the bell.
Molina Jr. ripped right hands to the head in round two. Provodnikov bobbed and weaved and worked his way inside. He connected with an overhand right to the chin.
In round three, Molina Jr. opened the stanza fast. He connected with a number of sweeping punches to the chin. Provodnikov landed a blistering left hook to jaw. He backed Molina Jr. into the ropes and worked over the Covina, CA. native. Molina Jr. went back to utilizing his jab in round four. Provodnikov looked surprised.
Molina Jr. connected with an uppercut, but also ate a left hook. Provodnikov sustained a cut over his left eye from an accidental head butt. Molina Jr. continued to be more active in round five. Provodnikov battled back with shots, but Molina Jr. won with the round with activity.
Provodnikov was told in his corner before round six commenced to punch more. He tried, but Molina Jr. was still getting off first. He connected with numerous lefts and rights to the chin. Provodnikov walked thru the shots, and stunned Molina Jr. with a wicked combination.
In round seven, Molina Jr. went right back to work. His pace was impressive. Would he run out of the gas? Provodnikov landed two powerful right hands to the chin. Molina Jr. fought back. Provodnikov knocked Molina Jr. back a step with a left to the head. Both fighters closed out the round connecting with hard blows.
Provodnikov rallied a bit in rounds nine and ten. He forced the action and uncorked left hooks. Molina Jr. landed a combination. Provodnikov connected with an overhand right to the ear. Molina Jr. worked well on the inside, but Provodnikov tattooed him with shots.
With two rounds to go, the fight was close. Molina Jr. went right back to boxing in round 11. He was determined to stick to his game plan by boxing more. Provodnikov dug a left hook to the belly.
Molina Jr. motioned to Provodnikov before the last round began to meet him in the center of ring. Both men let their hands go. Molina Jr. attacked with combinations. He stopped Provodnikov in his tracks with a hard left. Provodnikov punched back, but Molina Jr. appeared to have won the round.
All three judges had Molina winning the match by scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 115-113.
Maxboxing had Molina Jr. the winner by a 115-113 margin.
“It was a fight that we needed,” said Molina Jr. in the ring. “I felt his punching power in there. We had to out work Ruslan Provodnikov.”
“Molina won the fight.” said a disappointed Provodnikov. “No excuses.”