John Molina didn't start fast, but he ended things in the fourth round of tonight's ESPN Friday Night Fights main event, knocking out Dannie Williams on a right hand to keep himself in the discussion at 135 pounds, and set back the St. Louis native's career with a second loss on the program in the last year.
Molina (25-2, 20 KO) probably lost the first two rounds, as Williams (22-3, 18 KO) controlled the pace with his jab and started getting closer with his right hand.
The third round saw a turning point, though, and it wasn't a great one, as the fighters clashed heads hard, with Williams, 28, taking the worst of it. He got a five-minute recovery period, which of course he didn't take full advantage of, and he never seemed quite right after that. In the fourth, he was caught with a big right hand that sent him tumbling to the ropes, then the canvas, and then when he got up, beating the count, he was on the wrong side of the ropes, so the referee called it off, and rightly so.
There was some talk that maybe Molina, 30, connected with an accidental elbow after the right hand. Zombie Prophet was on it, and I think it was a glancing blow at best, and I'm leaning toward it not connecting:
Either way, Molina is the man leaving with the W in what was a must-win fight for two fringe contenders, and will hope to get back into the title picture soon. With new trainer Robert Garcia, he's given himself as much a fighting chance at that level as he can, I believe. As for Williams, it's a big setback, and he'll probably have to fight back as an opponent for a while. It's not impossible that he'll make it anyway, but at 28, time isn't totally on his side, and he'll need some major improvements.
Virgil Hunter's middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzales stayed unbeaten, but was far from living up to his nickname. "Flawless" gave a sort of perfunctory, mechanical effort against a tough buy very limited opponent. In the early going, Gonzales (17-0, 10 KO) was able to basically take Mouton (12-5-1, 10 KO) out of the fight by backing him up and taking away anything that Mouton does even sort of well, but the Texan hung around and stayed in the fight, in part because Gonzales, while solid physically, just lacks that spark that really makes people pay attention. I guess you could argue Andre Ward somewhat lacks that, too, but Gonzales ain't Ward, either. Few are, of course.
Anyway, the jury is still out on Gonzales' ceiling, but most of the talk out there isn't favorable on that. I think most see him as a guy who might get in the mix, but never really reach the top. Scores were 78-75, 77-75, and 77-75. BLH had it 78-74 for Gonzales, who gassed a bit in the latter rounds.
Two New Mexico fighters debuted in the opening bout, as Santa Fe's Brandon Holmes stopped Albuquerque's Alberdo Javier Esparza in the fourth round. It was definitely a fight that happened on TV. The action was OK, but Esparza is one of the worst fighters you'll see on TV this year, and Holmes is still very raw. To be expected, and he won handily, so it's a good debut for him overall.