By Francisco Salazar
When John Molina made his professional debut inside a crowded basketball gymnasium over three and a half years ago, fight fans paid little attention to the hard-hitting fighter from Covina, CA. Sure he can hit hard, but can he box? If he gets knocked down, will he get back up? Will he be able to make adjustments when facing fighters of higher caliber? So far, the answers are a resounding yes. The unbeaten Molina knows that he has a long way to go to become a world champion. However, he is willing to step up in class and achieve his short and long term goals. He will aim high as he squares off against his most challenging fighter to date, hard-hitting Martin Honorio in a 10 round Lightweight bout tomorrow night at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, CA.
The bout will headline a special edition of “ShoBox: the New Generation” card, presented by Goossen Tutor Promotions.
Molina has come a long way as a fighter since his professional debut, when he knocked out Lester Balmores in the second round in Maywood, CA. Molina has wowed fight fans with his explosive power and his improving ring abilities to box.
He will sure to have his hands full when he faces the experienced veteran in Honorio, who is riding a two-fight winning streak and has won seven of his last eight bouts.
Honorio (26-4-1, 14 KO’s) is no slouch in that he has decision victories over current world champion Steven Luevano and contender Rogers Mtagwa. He also has a knockout victory over world Cristobal Cruz.
Molina (18-0, 14 KO’s) knows what he is getting himself into and is not overlooking Honorio when bigger paydays could be on the horizon.
“I know that he is an experienced fighter and he has been in there with some good fighters,” said Molina, who turns 27 next month. “He is a crafty veteran and I can’t slouch in the ring against a fighter like Honorio. I respect the guy, but he is standing in the way of my goal of fighting for a world title.”
Molina has had solid trainers in his corner since his professional career. Molina was under the guidance of Ben Lira, a well-known trainer in Southern California for many years.
However, in the last couple of fights, he has added Joe Goossen to his corner. Goossen has trained numerous world champions, including Rafael and Gabriel Ruelas.
Having Goossen in his corner has given Molina an added dimension in his last couple of fights. It has show as he has stopped his last five opponents in a row.
His most recent stoppage was a 34 second annihilation of durable fringe contender Efren Hinojosa two months ago at STAPLES Center on the undercard of Vitaly Klitschko versus Chris Arreola.
“Having Joe in my corner has given me more confidence. I’ve improved my body work as was evident in the Hinojosa fight. Before Joe, I was like a Ferrari that didn’t know how to get out of first gear. Now, I know how to get out of first, second gear and move on in a fight.”
Although Molina has spent most of his career fighting between 130 to 135 pounds, he has realized that fighting at the Lightweight limit best fits him well.
Molina is not only strong, but is tall at five feet, 10 inches. He feels that he is strongest at 135 pounds.
“I feel that at this weight I have the power and I feel stronger. I know I could be a dominant force at this weight and you will see that on November 28th.”
Molina has a growing cult following of fight fans from Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley. His exposure has increased since signing on with Goossen Tutor Promotions, having fought on television in his last few fights.
Most young fighters and athletes for that matter have a difficult time adjusting to new found fame. Molina does not let it affect him. Instead, he takes a humble approach, feeding off of people who may not give him credit for what he has accomplished and what he hopes to do.
“I do admit I enjoy being recognized for the sacrifices I have made in the ring. I know that the success I have had brings along more exposure. Still, I know that I have a lot to offer. I know that the sky is the limit for me and I have motivation from naysayers who feel that I don’t belong.”
Molina also lives by the adage of “if it is not broke, don’t fix it.” He has had his father in his corner literally or as his manager in dealing with upcoming fights.
He has heard it all regarding father-son relationships that do not work in boxing. However, he is quick to point out that his relationship with his father is stronger than ever because of a no-nonsense relationship that they both share.
“To be honest, I’ve heard from people that mixing your father in the sport is bad. My relationship with my Dad is nothing but good. We are in this business together and he looks out for my well-being. When we deal with Dan Goossen, my Dad looks out for me. Father-son relationships do work and we are living proof of that.”
The Lightweight division has numerous top champions and contenders that Molina could see himself fighting down the road.
He knows that his number one priority on November 28th is Martin Honorio. As a Lightweight, he feels that his style matches up well with Honorio or anybody in the division.
Exciting fights, of which he predicts will be the case against Honorio, is what Molina is looking forward to. Explosive fights are something he knows will give fight fans their money’s worth in person or on television.
“There are so many great fighters at 135 pounds. I want to let everyone know that I’ve arrived at this weight, especially after the Honorio fight. I’m a slick fighter with Middleweight power who wants to compete in entertaining and explosive bouts.”
Molina has come along way since that Balmores fight. He has added an assortment of boxing skills that he hopes keeps getting better with each fight.
His hunger is evident with each fight and he hopes to one day land that coveted title fight. He knows that Honorio will be a tall order to climb, but he accepts that challenge and hopes to come out victorious.
“I know that Honorio is coming with his best to this fight. I respect him as a fighter, but he needs to respect that I’m younger and hungrier. Whatever game plan he is bringing, we can and will adapt to it.“
“I’m guaranteeing that this will be an explosive fight. You will see fireworks for this fight.”