The temerity of the lad, just 24, nicknamed “Pretty Boy,” just five…pro…fights…under his belt.
Josh Kelly, who does he think he is?
Well, I think he thinks he is a young gun badass, a future star who will be widely embraced as just that, worldwide, real effin soon.
I think the UK hitter Kelly believes that “King” Carlos Molina, age 34, with 40 pro bouts to his credit, a professional when Kelly was nine, is the right foe for right now, and not a bridge too far choice.
Molina differs in his thinking and he isn’t one to beg while doing it. The proud scrapper, born in Mexico, long a Chicago resident, and now back in Mexico, told BLH that he is on a severe upswing.
The 2016 Olympian Kelly, you may be all that, he believes, but I ain’t your stepping stone.
The King is ready to rule in that Cardiff ring March 31, underneath an Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker main event, he made clear in our chat.
“It’s a big fight for me to get back on top,” said Molina, who took the IBF 154 crown off Ishe Smith in 2013, and dropped it in his first defense to K9 Bundrage. He won his next six, then hit a double speed bump.
“Kelly is young with not much pro experience but you can never underestimate a opponent.”
Oh, but maybe THEY are underestimating you?
“Yes, their whole team is,” Molina replied. “Like everyone I ever fought before!”
OK, but…I’ve seen the video on Kelly. He has sweet feet, puts punches together like a 30 fight vet, has great in-ring vision, sees what is coming at him and is a skilled defender. Lots to like there!
“Yes, but all they have is highlights,” Molina noted. “What does he do when he’s not doing all that slick stuff? But he is fast and has good reflexes. I feel everything he does will not work on me. And there is pressure on him.”
Now, was Molina surprised when he got word Team Kelly wanted him?
“Yes, when they first mentioned I was happy to hear about a fight opportunity but then they said he had five fights and I thought I wasn’t going to get the fight. They must be real confident to risk someone so young!”
And maybe…no, certainly they saw the Boxrec, that Molina lost his last two, to Carlos Adames and then Ahmed El Mousaoui. What happened there?
“They were close fights even though I read that they said Adames dominated me, which is no way true. They were close fights in both fighters’ hometowns and the difference in both fights is that there was a flash knockdown in the second round of each fight. They were close, so I knew if I fixed some things I would be ready to beat anyone at welterweight, and I feel I did fix my problem.”
He explained in more depth how he’s made recent improvements.
“After the earthquake (September 2017) damaged my apartment in Mexico City, it was unlivable, so I moved to my birthplace in Patzcuaro, Michoacan. I started training hard like I used to in Chicago, got back to what always worked for me, which is training in my schedule, my way of training. And being a peaceful town surrounded by mountains I was able to train comfortable, and it showed in the work I was doing at the gym. The king is really back! And this fight is going to be the start of the greatest comeback in boxing history.”
That is tall talk…Molina is setting a high bar for himself, isn’t he?
Oh, while we’re at it, how’d he get the nickname?
“My first trainer, Lou Askenette, gave me the nickname “The King. For the Kelly fight, I’m bringing all three of my trainers I ever had. From Wisconsin (he lived there from 1999 to 2007), Chicago (lived there 2007 to 2014), Victor Mateo, and Armando Rayon, from Mexico City. Woodsy, I want to put on a show in my first fight in the UK and hope this is one of many fights in the UK.”
My three cents: I tend to think the Kelly team knows what they have in the kid. Maybe they are underestimating Molina, though, especially since it sounds like he’s figured out where to be to be at his best with his training. Kelly, he’s one of those guys that will be convincing people he’s in the ring with that those highlight videos are not FX. Molina is the underdog here, but we’d not be surprised if the dog bites Kelly harder than he’s dealt with since turning pro in April 2017.