Turning Stone Casino, Verona, NY, June 11
By Peter Lim
Whether this bout ends in the first round or, as unlikely as it may be, goes the distance, we're guaranteed an action-packed war that has the potential of winning awards for the Fight of the Year, Knockout of the Year and Round of the Year categories. Both are relentless kill-or-be-killed fighters who pay little attention to defense.
Molina (28-6, 23 KOs) might have a slight edge in power, punch for punch, but as in Hagler-Hearns, the harder chin prevails over the harder punch in this fight. Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs) is first to strike with a combination that drives Molina back, but once Molina regains his footing, he returns fire with a vengeance, setting the tone for the rest of the fight.
The action is scintillating for the first three rounds with both fighters taking turns to unload on the other. Molina lands the harder shots but Provodnikov is the more uncompromising of the two and connects at a higher volume. By the fourth round, Provodnikov's punches have taken a higher toll on Molina than vice versa and Molina gradually begins to fade. A left-right-left hook combination drops Molina in the fifth round and Provodnikov moves in for the kill with a two-fisted assault that renders Molina out on his feet, prompting the referee to jump in and halt the action.
Molina showed a whole new cerebral dimension to his game. The jab is the first punch a boxer learns to throw, but Molina only discovered it after 35 pro fights.