The CBZ Newswire

Molina Dominates Spinks at UIC Pavilion

by on Feb.02, 2013, under Boxing News, Guest Columnists

Castillo Can’t Keep Up with Smith, Heavyweights Bring the Fire

By Kerstin Broockmann

Photos by Scott Dray

CHICAGO, IL, February 2, 2013–On ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, presented by 8 Count, Warriors, and Round 3 Promotions, last night at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion, Carlos Molina demonstrated again why he should be in contention for a title, showing great poise and effective offensive and defensive skills in dismantling former title-holder Cory Spinks. Antwone Smith stymied a game but faded Jose Luis Castillo. Local heavyweight Mike Mollo, returning to ring for the first time since 2010, showed lots of heart and decent power against Polish upstart Artur Szpilka, who bloodied and ultimately knocked him out after an entertaining brawl.

Carlos Molina (L) defends against Cory Spinks

Carlos Molina (L) defends against Cory Spinks

The Main Event featured Carlos Molina (21 [16 KOs]-5-2, 153.5 lbs.), who had put one fight between himself and his latest loss, a controversial disqualification against James Kirkland in a fight he was winning, against another southpaw, former title-holder Cory Spinks (39 [11 KOs]-8, 153.25 lbs.) in an IBF Light Middleweight eliminator bout. Spinks holds victories against some respectable opponents, including Ricardo Mayorga and Zab Judah, but has struggled lately, and last night’s bout proved to be no exception. Though the bout began quickly, with both fighters looking to make their mark, Molina found his rhythm in the first round, while Spinks could not get close to Molina. When he tried, charging in with his head low, Molina pushed him down and countered with a flurry of hooks. By round’s end, Spinks was being driven back into the ropes and trying to stop Molina’s onslaught by grabbing Molina arond the waist. Spinks came out behind his jab in the second, a good strategy that initially kept Molina from finding a home for the left hook that proved his best weapon in this fight. By the end of the round, Spinks was again clinching, and sometimes grappling, to avoid punishment from Molina, who was effectively outboxing and outhustling him. The third round was the most competetive of the fight. After a slow start, both boxers engaged and landed some solid blows. Molina started effectively going to the body and continued to counter Spinks with his left hook.

In round four, Spinks began a pattern of clinching and moving to minimize Molina’s ability to land clean punches. However, he struggled to launch an offense from this mobile defense and found himself against the ropes on several occasions throughout the rest of the rounds. Molina had some difficulty adjusting in the fourth, but still outpunched and outlanded Spinks by a wide margin. In Round 5, Molina’s body attack, jabbing and again the left hook enabled him to keep Spinks on defense almost exclusively. Molina again dominated the sixth, though he was not able to do as much damage to the clinching Spinks until two devastating left hooks at the bell. Throughout the next three rounds, Spinks assumed a purely defensive posture, clinching and grabbing frequently, though Molina did a good job of extricating himself and continued to methodically walk down Spinks and find openings when they presented themselves. Finally, in the ninth, Referee Celestino Ruiz deducted a point from Spinks for the holding.

In the final rounds, Spinks seemed to try to box his way out a little more, but simply did not have enough stamina to deal with the pressure that Molina continued to put on. Molina looked like he might finally be able to knock out Spinks in the tenth, adding an effective uppercut to his arsenal, often in tandem with the hook that he had been using throughout, but Spinks had enough tenacity and skill to survive the round. Spinks finally went down in the eleventh round, from a left hook, but was up again before the count ended, eating a volley of punches from  Molina including a powerful right, none of which managed to end the fight. Spinks survived to the end of the 12-round battle, despite taking another count when only the ropes held him up in the twelfth round. It was arguably a brave showing by Spinks, but he had no answer for Molina, who showed the skill-set of a complete fighter. Aggressive but not reckless, Molina smartly dissected and decimated Spinks’ defense and completely nullified the little offense he offered. Final scores of 119-106 twice and 120-105 once confirmed Molina’s dominance and set him up for a future fight against Cornelius Bundrage (who holds two KO victories against Spinks) or Ishe Smith.

Jose Luis Castillo (L) tries to find an opening against Antwone Smith

Jose Luis Castillo (L) tries to find an opening against Antwone Smith

Jose Luis Castillo (64 [55 KOs]-12 -1, 151.8 lbs.] began his career as a featherweight and has campaigned in recent years at welterweight. He faced Antwone Smith (23 [12 KOs]-4-1, 155.6 lbs.) as a Light Middleweight in the Co-Main Event. Several years ago, the outcome may have been different, but the years and the battles have taken their toll on the 39-year-old Castillo, who has faced his share of champions in his prime (Mayweather twice, Corrales, Hatton, Casamayor), and holds victories against several of them. Last night, though setting the pace, he could not find  his way past Smith’s tight guard, and did not have the speed to take the openings that Smith presented when he countered Castillo’s attacks. Even when Castillo landed some solid punches in the the early rounds, Smith looked unfazed, retreated into his shell and kept up his methodical dismantling of the former champion. Castillo may have taken the first round, showing good movement to avoid Smith’s straight punches, while coming inside to land some good straight punches and hooks to the body and head (as well as a few accidental low blows) in addition to peppering Smith with speedy jabs and crosses, but Smith’s speed and strength posed difficulties from the start. The third round may have been the best round of the fight. Smith began to sit on his punches and stop Castillo’s forward momentum with powerful overhands and right hooks, as well as landing some devastating body shots at close quarters, while Castillo kept pressuring him with a varied attack. Though close, Smith had the edge in this round. The fourth round started slower, but then Castillo went on the attack–until he had a point taken for low blows. He came back tentatively before resurging and focusing on the head to drive Smith to the ropes near the end of the round.  After the fourth, Smith tightened his guard, working from behind his left shoulder and keeping his body protected behind his left forearm. Castillo struggled to find his rhythm again, and Smith took full control of the fight from this point, managing to almost completely shut out Castillo. Every time Castillo attacked, Smith would launch counter-jabs to keep him at bay. Though Castillo continued to press the action, Smith simply was too fast with his counters and too strong. Despite a close eighth round, Castillo was never really able to launch a consistent and effective attack, while Smith continued to counter and create and find openings to exploit. Antwone Smith fought a smart fight, not engaging in an offensive duel that might have allowed Castillo to get into his comfort zone. Smith found his strategy and stuck with it, not allowing Castillo to get back into the fight after the opening stanza, despite his game attempts to do so. Final scores read 100-90, 98-92, and 99-91 for Smith.

Artur Szpilka (L) keeps Mike Mollo at the end of his reach.

Artur Szpilka (L) keeps Mike Mollo at the end of his reach.

The most entertaining bout of the evening was a heavyweight bout scheduled for six rounds between Chicagoan Mike Mollo (20 [12 KOs]-4-1, 231.5 lbs.) and 23-year-old Artur “The Pin” Szpilka (13 [10]-0, 230.75 lbs.). Southpaw Szpilka dominated the bout with his reach and his jab, often keeping his right in Mollo’s face as the shorter man tried desperately to get inside. This did not prevent Mollo from driving in occasionally, and when he did find his range, his power gave the young Pole pause. Though outpunched and bloodied in the first round (from an accidental clash of heads which opened a cut over the left eye), Mollo managed to drop Szpilka with a short body punch from a clinch after unbalancing Szpilka with a powerful right, giving Mollo the round.

Szpilka (R) works to keep Mollo's wounds open

Szpilka (R) works to keep Mollo’s wounds open

Throughout the second round, Szpilka dominated Mollo, targeting the cuts over both of his eyes with stiff jabs and straight lefts, though Mollo continued to pursue and occasionally land punches. Bleeding profusely from both eyes now (after an elbow opened a cut over the right eye), Mollo  was checked out by the doctor and sent back into battle. Determined to land a lucky punch, Mollo launched himself at Szpilka at (and after) the bell. Szpilka continued to outpunch and time Mollo with counters in the third, though Mollo kept up the attack despite the cuts that Szpilka once again opened. In the fourth, Szpilka continued to irritate Mollo with his jab, throwing just enough hard punches to open up the cuts again, though the doctor seemed content to allow the fight to continue. A left hook dropped Szpilka in a round that he had otherwise dominated with his punch output, and another at the bell seemed to rock him. Once again, Mollo takes the round.

Mollo (R) fights on despite cuts against Szpilka

Mollo (R) fights on despite cuts against Szpilka

Heartened by his success in the fourth, Mollo may have taken round five, showing good power in attacking Szpilka, and finding his way inside more than in previous rounds. However, he drew a point deduction for pushing Szpilka to the canvas after attacking him with hooks, though Szpilka was leaning in. Mollo had some good combinations, including one that caused Szpilka to go down on one knee, which was ruled a slip. Szpilka did manage to open the cuts once again. Round six belonged to Szpilka. Though Mollo continued to attack, Szpilka again successfully targeted the cuts. Once again, the doctor cleared Mollo to continue and Mollo surged to attack. Szpilka went down one more time, dropping to a knee for an unknown cause, which was again ruled a slip. Mollo continued his reckless attack, getting caught by a powerful straight left from Szpilka. He continued, only to get caught by the same punch after covering after a jab, which sent him toppling unconscious to the canvas. The time of the knockout was 2:45 of the sixth round. Though Szpilka showed some impressive movement and technique (and an irritating tendency to keep his right extended in an opponent’s face), his chin seems questionable–though, to his credit, Mollo does have some power.

The fouth bout was a Super Middleweight fight scheduled for six rounds between Chicagoan Don “Da Bomb” George (23 [20KOs]-3-1, 164 lbs.) and Springfield, Missouri-based James Cook (11 [8 KOs]-4-1, 162 lbs.). George had plenty of energy left for his trademark backflip after he dropped Cook with a right hook to the body after peppering him with punches throughout the opening round. Cook was unable to continue, despite making it back to his feet. The TKO came at 1:15 of the first round.

The other local fighters on the card also did not have much of an opportunity to practice their craft.

After a close first round in a welterweight bout scheduled for four, with Chicagoan Jimmy Murphy (2 [2 KOs]-0, 145 lbs.) allowing Indianapolis, Indiana’s Aloric Carson (0-3, 149 lbs.) to land too many overhand rights over a his low left, though he pressured Carson throughout, Murphy launched a more successful offense in the second. After Carson lost his mouthguard and returned to his corner, a short, and apparently acrimonious, discussion led to a stoppage of the fight by retirement. In a bizarre turn, Murphy won his second fight by TKO at 1:36 of round two.

Hannibal, Missouri’s Jordan Brown (3 [1 KO]-2), who proved to be surprisingly hard to hit and durable against Paul Littleton (though he lost the decision) in his last outing in Chicago, once again managed to keep his fight, this time against Chicago fan favorite Mike “Hollywood” Jimenez (9 [6]-0), entertaining while it lasted. He actually connected with a number of solid shots in the first round, his aggression apparently keeping Jimenez from finding the right range for a knockout punch. After losing his mouthguard in an barrage from Jimenez, Brown was unable to get his momentum back. Near the end of the round, Jimenez cornered Brown and was hitting him with a variety of unanswered punches to the head until Brown was literally saved by the bell. Brown came out just as game in the second, but Jimenez was able to drive him to the ropes after a short battle. With Jimenez raining down punches and Brown unable to launch a counterattack off the ropes, the fight was stopped at 1:46 of the second, over the strenuous protests of Brown, giving Jimenez his latest TKO victory.

A six-roung Welterweight fight between Chicago’s Jaime Herrera (10 [5 KOs]-2) and St. Louis, Missouri’s Marlon Smith (2 [2 KOs]-3) featured a dominant Herrera keeping constant pressure on Smith throughout most of the first round. Smith got knocked down by a left hook from Herrera and never got much opportunity to respond from his position on the ropes. Referee Celestino Ruiz stepped in to save him at 2:38, giving Herrera the TKO victory.

Cruiserweight Chicagoan Junior Wright (6 [6 KOs]-0, 197.6 lbs.] found himself in a heavyweight battle again Stratford, New Jersey’s Tim Johnson (4 [4 KOs]-3, 203.8 lbs.), which may have been the reason why he took until the second round to knock out his opponent. Though Johnson seemed to have some good fundamental skills, Wright was clearly the more proficient technician, pursuing and outpunching the bigger man throughout the first round, though he did weather some powerful shots in the process. Wright found the finishing punch, a left hook, early in the second round, knocking out Johnson at :56. Johnson could not beat the count.

Sergio Montes de Oca, moving up to Featherweight (7 [2 KOs]-1-1) to face Merrillville, Indiana’s Antoine Knight (2 [1 KO]-2), got off to a slow start in the first round. Though it was close, it seemed that Knight might have the edge in power. Both fighters worked throughout, and it looked like it might be an entertaining battle. Montes de Oca came out strong in the second, mixing up his attack and putting more of his weight behind his punches. He had Knight against the ropes and was doing his best to finish the battle, though Knight continued to throw back, when the bout was stopped two minutes in. Though Montes de Oca was clearly in charge, Knight appeared justified in protesting this stoppage. Though he certainly looked like he was on the way to victory, it would have been good to Montes de Oca have the opportunity to get there in a more decisive fashion.

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