By Sam Geraci at ringside
In the main event of ESPN 2 FNF in Chicago, IL, Carlos “King” Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs) established himself as the mandatory challenger to the winner of the 154lb IBF title fight between Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs) and Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (24-5, 11 KOs) on February 23rd by scoring an impressive one-sided decision over Cory “The Next Generation” Spinks (39-8, 11 KOs) with two scores of 119-106 and one score of 120-105 in front of his hometown crowd of more than 5,200 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. Molina dominated nearly every second with his pressure, lead right hands, and left hooks to the body and head. Molina was credited with knockdowns in rounds ten and twelve that were more a result of an accumulation of shots than a single blow. Although Molina did not score the knockout that he was looking for, it was clear tonight that Molina made an effort to sit down on his shots and as a result caused damage.
Spinks no longer resembles the fighter who outboxed and outsmarted larger and faster fighters throughout the early part of the decade and might have had his relevance in major fights reduced to that of a gatekeeper or “name on a resume.” Spinks was deducted one point for excessive holding in round nine.
Although most would disagree with junior middleweight Antwone “The Truth” Smith’s (23-4-1, 12 KOs) pre-fight assertion that Mexican legend Jose Luis “El Temible” Castillo (64-12-1, 55 KOs) was never more than “just a typical Mexican fighter,” on tonight’s ESPN 2 FNF in Chicago, IL, Smith made Castillo look very ordinary in outboxing him over ten rounds en route to a unanimous decision with scores of 100-90, 98-92, and 99-91. While Castillo attempted to pressure Smith throughout the bout to land his signature left hooks to the body and head, Smith effectively and wisely stepped back to create space in order to score consistently with uppercuts. In round four, which appeared to be the only round that one could score for Castillo, Castillo was penalized for a low blow. From the end of round five on, Smith controlled the action with his work rate, defense, uppercuts, and jabs to the head and body.
In an all-out brawl between two hard-hitting heavyweights that kept the crowd on their feet chanting, undefeated Artur “The Pin” Szpilka (13-0, 10 KOs) of Warsaw, Poland, survived a brutal onslaught from Chicago fan-favorite Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KOs) of Chicago, IL, to score a knockout in round six after landing a dynamic left cross. Referee Celestino Ruiz called a halt to the bout at 2:45. This was an incredibly bloody bout in which both fighters were severely hurt. Mollo scored knockdowns in rounds one and four and suffered deep cuts above both eyes before the end of the second round.
Super middleweight Donovan “Da Bomb” George (24-3-1, 20 KOs) of Chicago, IL, rebounded from his loss against top contender Adonis Stevenson (19-1, 16 KOs) by stopping an overmatched and outclassed James Cook (11-5-1, 8 KOs) of Springfield, MO, by first round stoppage. After the fight, George expressed that he wished he would have been tested more and that he looks forward to putting on a more entertaining fight next time out. To entertain the fans, however, George did complete a backflip.