Veterans will meet perennial spoilers on the February 1 edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, as Cory Spinks faces Carlos Molina in the junior middleweight main event, and Jose Luis Castillo takes on Antwone Smith in the welterweight co-feature.
Spinks (39-7, 11 KO) last fought in June, losing by stoppage in a rematch with IBF champ Cornelius "K9" Bundrage. The 34-year-old St. Louis native is a two-time world titleholder at 154 pounds, and a former welterweight world champion, as well.
Molina (20-5-2, 6 KO) has fought just once since a highly controversial DQ loss to James Kirkland in February, easily beating Damian Frias in August. Molina, 29, will hope for home field advantage in the Windy City.
The fight realistically runs an incredibly high risk of being truly ugly, as neither Spinks nor Molina are well-known for their action fights or their punching power. Spinks has slowed down to the point that his fights are a bit more watchable by default, because he can't move as well as he used to, and Molina is willing to be active if he doesn't fear the opponent's power at all, so hopefully we get a decent scrap here. It's possible, but the matchup doesn't scream action.
Castillo (64-11-1, 55 KO) is far removed from his days as the world lightweight champion, but in the right matchups can still be fun to watch. He beat Ivan Popoca in Chicago in July, his last fight, but Smith (22-4-1, 12 KO) is a trickier opponent than Popoca. The 39-year-old Castillo would be retired in a more perfect world, but he fights on, while the 25-year-old Smith has played a spoiler role well in recent years, scoring a few minor upsets, but also losing to guys like Kermit Cintron, Lanardo Tyner, and Roberto Garcia. Smith has settled in as a welterweight gatekeeper, it would seem, but given Castillo's performances in recent years against fighters of this level, Smith should probably be considered a solid favorite.