This Friday at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, IL, top-rated 154lb contender Carlos “King” Molina (20-5-2, 6 KOs) takes on former undisputed welterweight champion and former 154lb IBF champion Corey “The Next Generation” Spinks (39-7, 11 KOs) in an eliminator for the junior middleweight IBF title. The winner of Molina vs. Spinks will be in line to fight IBF champion Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs) who defends his title February 22nd against contender Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (24-5, 11 KOs).
After years of being matched as the “opponent” and enduring controversial losses and draws to some of the sport’s biggest names, including Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Mike Alvarado, Erislandy Lara, and James Kirkland, Molina appears poised to dominate in his first fight in front of his hometown fans since 2008.
In the following interview with FightNews, Molina shared his thoughts on his matchup with Spinks, his place among the jr middleweight division, his progression as a fighter over the past ten years, and his thoughts on steroids.
In the lead-up to this fight, you have said that you have been working to build your power in order to KO Spinks. What in particular are you doing to improve your power?
Just sitting down on my punches. I’ve been punching and moving at the same time and there are certain times when you have to sit down on your punches, especially when you have your opponent hurt or against the ropes. You can’t do it all of the time, but you have to know when and that is what we are working on. I want to jab and jab and confuse them until I have them trapped into a corner.
Is there anything unique that you’ve done in sparring to prepare for Spinks?
This is my third southpaw in a row, so we have used the same sparring that we have in those camps. We used Alex Martin and Kenny Simms, who are both top rated amateurs.
Are southpaws the only guys who will take fights with you?
I guess (laughs). Hey, it doesn’t bother me because we have some good left-handers in my weight class, and you can always get better.
Corey knows how to fight; he’s a veteran. I wouldn’t say there is a single shot that is going to get him, but I think the constant pressure will get to him. If it isn’t the first, or second, or third, or fourth, just keep on going.
In his last fight against Bundrage, Spinks was completely overpowered and stopped. Although your style is different from Bundrage, is that what you intend to do?
I think Bundrage set a good blueprint in that fight because if you give Corey space he’s gonna box the shit out of you (laughs).
Can Spinks outbox Carlos Molina with space?
I don’t think so, but why play to his strengths.
In most of your fights you have been the smaller guy and considered the underdog. In this fight, you are in your hometown, you are the favorite, and you are facing an opponent in Spinks who is the same size as you or smaller. How does it feel?
I don’t know if I am the larger fighter, and I don’t know if I should have always been considered the underdog (laughs). You know, Spinks has been at 154 for the last couple of years, and he usually goes up in weight the night of the fight. It really doesn’t matter what the weight is. As long as we both make weight, then it’s all good.
This is your first fight in Chicago since 2008 and the first time that you’ve headlined a card in your hometown. What does that feel like?
Man, I’m excited. I got a lot of people from Chicago and Wisconsin coming down to watch me. I use that as motivation to train even harder. I’ve had one of the best training camps. I know everyone says that all of the time, but I really did have a great camp. I feel the strongest that I’ve ever been. At 29, I’m ready to enter my prime. I want this to be the fight where everybody is like, “Damn, give this guy a title shot.”
Spinks has plenty of Chicago connections. Have you ever sparred with him?
No. I’ve never seen him or met him. The first time I will see him will be at the weigh-in. I was supposed to fight him before for the chance to become world champion but things feel apart.
Are you going for the knockout?
I think a boxer should always go out there for the knockout. Look for it, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. A win puts me in a title fight.
As someone who has been in the ring with guys who have challenged for titles and won titles, how does it feel to be one fight away from the opportunity to become champ?
This is actually the same spot that I was in when I fought Kirkland. To me, it’s just another fight. If I don’t win this, there is nothing else in front of me. I’m not happy until I get in the ring and actually win that belt.
What happened to a rematch with Kirkland? Were there serious talks of a rematch?
I haven’t heard anything from Kirkland or his camp. He hasn’t fought since we last fought. I’m down for the rematch; I’m down for any big fight that I can get. I’m not in a position to pick and choose.
Who can challenge you and give you the best fight right now?
At 154lb, I don’t know. There are a few guys. (Pause) I think Austin Trout or maybe Mayweather if he stays in our weight class or even Canelo because he’s dangerous and he’s young and strong but I think if you give him movement (pause) I guess I feel like I can beat all of these guys. Seriously, no disrespect, but I feel like if I get the opportunity I will beat all of these guys.
Considering that you didn’t start boxing until age 18, you only had a handful of amateur bouts, and you have been matched as the underdog in most of you bouts, how would you explain your rapid progression as a fighter and an elite technician?
That’s why I always feel that I can improve. I was taught defense first. With defense, you can last longer in this sport and if you have good defense and keep improving it while working on your offense you can keep developing into a better fighter. Honestly, I am getting better everyday.
How would classify your boxing style?
I like to get my opponents confused. I like to get them out of their groove; it’s my goal to make it my fight no matter what.
Although you’re still early in your career, how do you want to be remembered?
Oh, man. I’m the quiet guy. I don’t want to be famous, but I do want to be known as a good boxer who knew what he was doing. I guess the two go hand-in-hand, but I would like to be famous among the boxing fans. I want fans to look back on my career and say that I gave it all I had and that I was dedicated to my sport.
How do you think fans react when a Carlos Molina fight is announced?
I got a bad rep from that Kirkland fight. A lot of people think that I clinch and hold too much, but those are people who have not seen my other fights. It’s too bad. I’m just trying to erase all of that and continue improving. I hope fans will get excited for my fights.
Do you think you were holding and clinching too much in that fight?
After seeing the video, I guess there were times that if I wouldn’t have held I would have done even better, so I am mad at myself for that. What can you do? I just have to continue getting better and continue winning.
Carlos, most fighters say that boxing is their life, but with you, I believe it. What is it that you do outside of boxing?
A week after the fight is the best because you can take a break from the gym and you can eat a little pizza or something (laughs). No, for real, what I do is spend time with my family. I have a little eight-year-old and I like to spend time with him and my girlfriend. Whenever I’m not in the gym, though, I don’t feel like myself and I don’t even know what to do with myself. I love to be in the gym.
Anything else that you want add?
I want to thank all of my fans and supporters and ESPN. ESPN has really helped me out in my career. (Pause) Actually, I also want to talk about steroids.
Ok. What about steroids would you like to discuss?
I mean, this is a physical sport and you can get hurt and end up dead. The way it’s going, steroids aren’t going to start getting cracked-down on until somebody ends up dead. We as boxers need to step up and do something about it like Nonito Donaire who stepped up and took the random drug test and Mayweather who has pushed for it. I don’t know how to go about it, but I’ve put in eleven years of hard work and have never taken anything illegal. There are a lot of fighters like me.
How prevalent are steroids in boxing?
I don’t know, but people are getting caught up in it and it’s damaging the sport. I am a fan first, and I don’t want this to ruin the sport. The fighters are going to have to be the ones to step up and clean up the sport, so that this generation or at least the next generation of fighters is clean. This is a tough sport, and no one should have the upper hand.
What role would you be willing to take?
Whatever I can do, I will do. I want fighters to be treated better. If I’m ever in the position where I can do more, I will. You know, it’s tough for the regular fighters to make a stand because we can’t turn down the opportunities to fight, and testing can be seen as a roadblock. In order to demand it, you have to be like Mayweather or Canelo. Anyone who has a say in the sport has to get it going and then maybe the rest of us could join in.
Do you think most fighters would embrace steroid testing?
I think so. We are all in the same boat. We know how hard it is to come up, and we don’t want to get passed by someone who did it the wrong way.
Carlos, thank you for your time and for your courage to speak out on steroids in boxing. See you on Friday.
Molina vs. Spinks headlines this week’s ESPN2 Friday Night Fights and is presented by Dominic Pesoli of 8 Count Productions, Frank Mugnolo of Round 3 Productions, Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing, and Blue Wave Boxing in association with Don King Productions.
The following significant bouts are also featured on the card: The legendary two-time lightweight champion and veteran of 76-fights Jose Luis Castillo (64-11-1, 55 KOs) against Antoine Smith (22-4-1, 12 KOs) in a welterweight ten rounder; Polish heavyweight Artur Szpilka (12-0, 9 KOs) vs. Mike Mollo (20-3-1, 12 KOs) in an eight-round contest; and local fan favorite Donovan George (23-3-1, 20 KOs) vs. James Cook (11-4-1, 8 KOs) in a super middleweights eight rounder; plus several more bouts showcasing top local talent.
The UIC Pavilion is located at 525 S. Racine, Chicago, IL. Doors open at 7p and the first bell is at 8p. Tickets are available at the UIC Pavilion box office or at Ticketmaster.com (call 1-800-745- 3000 or visit online).