Photo: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME
Power-punching lightweight John Molina (26-3, 21 KOs) knew his career was on the line when he stormed back from the brink of absolute defeat to dramatically stop previously unbeaten Mickey Bey (18-1-1, 9 KOs) in the 10th and final round of their fight Friday at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
“I knew I was fighting an uphill battle and that I was definitely behind on the scorecards, but I always felt I was in the fight,” he said. “This is how we do it. This is why we do boxing. I seized the moment and got the job done. When my back was up against the wall, I came back stronger. Bey was a strong-armed guy who was difficult to get inside against. But I knew I’d hurt him early with a body shot because he let out a moan. I wanted him to get a little confidence as the fight went on so he would stand more. I think he wanted to try and discourage me at times but it didn’t work. When I connected in the 10th, I saw his eyes roll back. The beauty of boxing is possessing knockout power in both hands.”
The event was presented by Mayweather Promotions (which promotes Bey) and Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr., who was seated at ringside, got into the ring and congratulated Molina afterward. “That meant a hell of a lot to me,” Molina said. “It says a lot about Floyd.”
Molina, who was back with trainer Joe Goossen for the third time for this fight, said he doesn’t know what’s next for him in boxing. His immediate plans were to “go home and see my eight-month old daughter. I kept thinking about her and my family in there. This win was for them.”
Bey praised Molina for his effort, but said he had major problems with referee Vic Drakulich.
“I don’t want to take any credit away from Molina but I felt I was fighting two or three people in there,” Bey said. “The ref was warning me for one thing or another the whole fight. He nit-picked me for everything, pretty much took 80 percent of my arsenal away. It became a distraction, and then it took me out of my game plan. He definitely affected my performance.
“This is a major disappointment. I felt I did what I had to do. I knew I was way ahead on points. I wasn’t trying to finish him in the last round, I was just fighting my fight. I landed a lot of hard shots, too. We’ll have to see where we go from here.”
The fight was televised on Showtime.