Retro throwback: Omar Figueroa and John Molina throw hands

Omar Figueroa Jr. vs. John Molina Jr. Feb.16

Fasten your seatbels, it’s going to be a bumpy night

By John J. Raspanti

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DwftDHoUUAAcrSw (1) F vs. M 1200 v 800.jpg
DwftDHoUUAAcrSw (1) F vs. M 1200 v 800.jpg

Over sixty years ago, most fans watched boxing on their black and white television. On September 23, 1952, the Gillette Safety Razor Company presented the Rocky Marciano vs. Jersey Joe Walcott on NBC.

 

CBS had the Wednesday Night Fights--while ABC joined the fray with their own series a few years later on Sunday nights.

 

When viewing these bouts today, one thing comes to mind. The grainy imagery of the broadcasts showcases the grit, heart, and blood of many of the fights.

 

In other words, they were real.

 

On Feb.16, undefeated slugger Omar Figueroa faces heavy-handed warrior John Molina at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, CA. One can easily imagine the brawling 50’s, fighters eating three punches to land one.

 

The ultra-aggressive Figueroa is undefeated in 27 fights, scoring 19 knockouts. His career began 11 years ago, with a knockout in the first round. In his 15th professional fight, he faced favored Michael Perez in Indio, CA. Figueroa dominated and stopped Perez in round six, announcing himself as a rising prospect. In 2013, a victory over Abner Cotto propelled Figueroa from prospect to contender.

 

Three months later, he went to war with Nihito Arakawa, trading punches for 12 thrilling rounds. Figueroa landed over half of his power shots, likely wondering to himself what was keeping Arakawa up. Figueroa earned the victory, and something called the interim WBC lightweight title.

 

He edged Jerry Belmontes in his next fight, and then came back from the brink of defeat to stop Daniel Estrada. A bad cut forced Figueroa to the sidelines for nine months. He came back in 2015 to notch victories over former world champions Ricky Burns, and Molina conqueror, Antonio DeMarco.

 

Figueroa was out of the ring for 19 months—due to chronic hand injuries. The absence caused him to gain weight. When he signed to fight former two-division champion Robert Guerrero, many wondered if he had lost his edge. After being out-boxed by Guerrero in the opening round, Figueroa floored his opponent three times in round two, winning the fight by stoppage soon after.

 

A year ago, Figueroa was scheduled to face Adrien Broner until he was arrested for driving under the influence in Southern California.

 

"I shouldn’t have been behind the wheel. I own up to my mistake,” said Figueroa, in an article written by Lem Satterfield ofwww.boxingscene.com.

 

“The DUI was not the reason I pulled out. It was because of a tear in my right shoulder. You live and you learn. The time away from the ring’s helped me to achieve focus on mind and body.”

Figueroa has moved on and said he is ready to face Molina.

 

“Molina won’t make it to the halfway point for sure, so I don’t even think it will go past four,” said Figueroa. “Obviously, as the saying goes, we don’t get paid for overtime, so the sooner I can get out of there the better.”

 

Molina, who first talked of fighting Figueroa in 2013, was amused by Figueroa’s confidence.

 

“When I first read Omar’s comments, I laughed a little bit,” Molina said. “I like how he’s trying to ruffle my feathers, and it did light a fire in me. Either he’s trying to gain a mental advantage or he’s as naïve as he looks.”

 

Molina, 36, has won 30 of 37 fights, with 24 knockouts. He was last seen in the ring over a year ago, rising from a knockdown to stop Ivan Redkach. Molina, has reached as high as number two in junior welterweight rankings. He’s never met a fight he didn’t like.

 

A few years ago, he delighted boxing fans with come-from-behind, knock-out victories over highly-ranked boxers Hank Lundy, and Mickey Bey. Molina has also captured two lineal titles during his 12-year professional career.

 

The Covina, CA, resident cemented his standing as a “Rocky Balboa” tough guy five years ago when he faced former junior welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse. Molina and Matthysse went toe-to-toe, engaging in a knock-down, drag-out brawl that had boxing fans yelling themselves horse. Underdog Molina won the first round, and knocked down Matthysse in the second.

 

Matthysse battled back, but in round five, Molina floored him again. Matthysse was rocked a few minutes later, but scored a knock-down of his own in round seven. The war waged on. Molina was battling, but the hard-hitting Matthysse was getting the better of his opponent. Finally, in round 10, a combination of blows put Molina down. Somehow he pulled himself up at seven. A round later, the bout was over, with Matthysse declared the winner.

 

In 2016, Molina, who was advised by some to retire after the loss to Matthysse, boxed his way to a 12-round decision over Ruslan Provodnikov. The win earned him a shot at junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who stopped him in eight rounds.

 

His fight 14 months ago against Redkach was considered a do-or-die affair. He had to win—which he did emphatically.

 

Molina can’t wait to get in the ring with Figueroa.

 

"I think Omar has a perfect style to accommodate me to put on a spectacular fight," Molina said."I will just say I’ve never been more excited about a fight than this fight.”

 

Figueroa will try and control Molina.

 

“I know Molina likes to trade, so I don’t think it’s going to be hard to get him to slug it out whenever I want to," said Figueroa."But I’m going to enforce my style of fighting on him, and I know it’s not going to be hard to get him to fall into my trap.”

 

Molina, the taller fighter by three inches, figures his size will give him an advantage. Of course,

 

Figueroa doesn’t agree.

 

The two will settled their differences in a few days. The fight will likely be explosive and exciting.

 

The ghosts of the 1950’s will be smiling.

 

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