On September 14th “King” Carlos Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs) defeated Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (26-6, 11 KOs) to capture the IBF jr middleweight championship and become Chicago’s first world champion since David Diaz defeated Erik Morales for the WBC lightweight championship on August 4, 2007. After Molina’s victory, one would have assumed that Molina would have been given the opportunity to unify the 154 pound division against Floyd “Money” Mayweather (45-0, 25 KOs), who won the WBA and WBC 154 pound championships that same night on the same card by defeating Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs).
It did not happen.
Instead, Molina returned to Chicago to continue preparations for his next big opportunity, which he hopes will be a bout with Alvarez on March 8th.
In the following interview, the fighter discusses what he would have said after his championship victory over Smith, potential opponents and much more.
After you won the title, you weren’t given time in the ring to talk to the fans. What would you have said?
I want to thank God for putting good people in front of me that helped me out with my career. I also want to thank all of the fans and family that have supported me throughout all of the struggles. It was all worth it.
What has changed for you since becoming champion?
Nothing really. I guess I get more recognition from the fans and media, but I try to keep everything the same. I just keep working hard in the gym waiting for that call for a big fight.
How does it feel to be the first champion from Chicago since David Diaz?
It feels good. It’s a major goal in any boxer’s career. You know, some guys never get an opportunity to fight for a title, so for me to get that opportunity and win it is something I am grateful for.
Why do think Chicago has been unable to produce champions in recent years?
I think a lot of champions are boxers that were built up by their promoters and pr people, so they get good fights and run up a record of 20-0 or 30-0 and end up getting a title shot. There’s some fighters in Chicago that end up fighting all of the tough fights and might not even end up getting a title shot. It takes a lot of maneuvering.
How were you able to “maneuver” a title?
You know, I guess Warriors Boxing helped me out a lot because they got me some good fights. Before that, I wasn’t getting those good opportunities or big fights, so we worked to start getting ranked
and taking that route with the IBF.
How important are the rankings of the sanctioning bodies?
The IBF is really good with the rankings; they stick to it. If you’re ranked number one, you’re gonna get you’re title shot within nine months. That feels good as a fighter because as long as you keep winning, it’s gonna happen, and it did for me.
When should you be back in the ring?
I’m not sure, but March 8th has been talked about.
Your next bout can be a voluntary defense and the following names have been tossed around: Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, who now looks to be fighting Sergio Martinez, a rematch with Erislandy Lara, who most fight fans think you beat, and Alfredo Angulo. Of those, whom do you want?
Cotto is the fight that everybody wants. Who doesn’t want to fight Cotto? If I was to pick any fight, that fight or Mayweather is the fight that I want. Since Cotto is going to be fighting Martinez next, it’s pretty much the same as it’s always been. I’ll just fight whoever they put in front of me; I don’t really have a choice. Conventional or southpaw I don’t really care.
I always want the biggest fights, and since the Mayweather fight isn’t gonna happen right now, you always go for the next biggest and that’s Canelo. Beating Canelo will get me Mayweather and more recognition. I want Canelo. Against Lara, you know, it was a draw, but everyone knows I beat Lara. The rematch should happen eventually, but that fight is always there. Angulo would be exciting especially for all of the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, but I want Canelo now. Once I beat Canelo, Mayweather has to fight me.
What would happen against Canelo?
I would make it my fight like I always do; Canelo is no different. I will win the fight.
What did you learn about Canelo or think of his performance against Mayweather?
Canelo was given the puncher’s chance, but he didn’t put too much pressure on Mayweather. He didn’t embarrass himself; he just got schooled and lost to a better boxer. He’s young and should learn from that.
What would happen in a fight between you and Mayweather? How would you make it your fight?
Mayweather likes to have that space and to be first. If you’re throwing punches, Mayweather is using his defense. He likes to weather the storm and then come back. Against someone like Mayweather, you have to use your feints, put steady pressure on him and you can’t relax. You have to make him think. Mayweather doesn’t wanna think; he wants to be relaxed in there. I’d make him think the whole fight.
Why hasn’t your name been mentioned against Mayweather?
It’s just the big name they’re looking for. Out of anybody right now, on paper, Mayweather should be fighting me to unify 154. He has the other two titles, and I have the IBF. Let’s unify. They’re all about the PPV numbers, so beating Canelo will get me Mayweather.
Even though you talk about Canelo and Mayweather, unlike a lot of fighters, I’ve never heard you talk about money. You always emphasize being a people’s champ and fighting to earn fans. Why is that important to you?
If you were to talk to my girl or anyone close to me, they would tell you that I never talk about money like that. I mean it is nice to support your family and everything, but it isn’t everything. Money isn’t gonna make you happy in life. More than anything, I’m so competitive that it’s not about money; I do it for the glory. I want to be the best. I wanna kick Mayweather’s ass, and it’s not about the payday. I wanna kick his ass because I wanna try my self against the best. It’s my prime, and I wanna be a legend. I wanna be remembered.
Is it that desire to be a legend that has made you the fighter you are?
You know, I’m always in the gym. I don’t wanna be caught off guard. The way I came up was just being in the gym waiting for an opportunity. A lot of times they did call me on just one week’s notice or even less. I stay ready all of the time even as a champion because boxing is a year-round sport.
How would you describe your style?
I’m old school. Ever since I started in the gym, I’ve been watching the old school tapes on fighters. It’s all in your head and how you see yourself. I only had seven amateur fights, so I learned in the pros against the best the hard way like the old school fighters did through losses, wins, robberies, draws and whatever. It all makes you mentally tough. Nobody is tougher than me mentally.
Anything else you want to add?
I just want a chance to prove I’m the best. I wanna fight the hardest fights against the best like the old days. I wanna fight like every other month if possible as long as I’m healthy with no cuts. You know, forget it. Even if I have a cut, I wanna fight. I just want to be the best.