The word February is born from the Latin word Februarius, from Latin februare meaning to "purify". Both former champion Cory Spinks and IBF top-five rated contender Carlos Molina hope to find some form of purification of their own when they face-off in tonight's installment of ESPN 2's 'Friday Night Fights' from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago to kick-off the new month.
It has been over two years since the 34-year old Spinks (39-7, 11 KO's) last held a world title – the IBF light middleweight belt that he lost to Cornelius Bundrage in August 2010 by fifth round technical knockout. Spinks, a former undisputed welterweight champion and son of former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, hit "K9" Bundrage with only nine jabs and did not display the mobility or hand speed that he was once known for having. He claimed he was sick and did not train properly for that fight, assuring the boxing community this would not be the case when he challenged Bundrage in a rematch this past June.
The second fight was a downright ugly affair with more clinching, wrestling, low blows, and takedowns than clean exchanges. Spinks lacked the legs and power to be any threat in that bout, getting knocked down in the first round and suffering three official knockdowns in the seventh (in addition to two slips) enroute to a technical knockout loss in his attempt to regain the light middleweight title.
These performances have had many observers calling for Spinks' retirement. Having always lacked power, Spinks' success was largely derived from his speed, mobility and ring generalship, all which have markedly deteriorated over the last few years. It is difficult to envision him effectively competing with the top talent within the heavily stacked light middleweight division at this point. It will take an unlikely and unrealistic transformation from the two-division champion to alter the general perception that his career has reached its natural end.
In his attempt to do that, Spinks takes on Molina (20-5-2, 6 KO's) tonight in an IBF title eliminator. The 29-year old Molina is seeking purification from his past so he can finally position himself for a world championship in the near future.
The last time Molina was in this type of situation, he was victimized by a highly questionable disqualification after having thoroughly confused and frustrated James Kirkland over the course of nine rounds in a WBC light middleweight semi-final eliminator in March 2012. He was denied the chance to follow through on a superb performance when his cornerman innocently entered the ring before the tenth round officially ended while Molina was getting a count following a knockdown at the bell.
It was just another setback in a career already full of them. Molina's two draws with Erislandy Lara and Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. were fights many believed he should have won. In the rematch with Chavez Jr., he lost by majority decision in another close fight that left Molina feeling as if things were not exactly pure.
While Kirkland hasn't fought since March, squandering his opportunity for a shot at WBC champion Saul Alvarez this past September, Molina is determined to cleanse the awful taste left in his mouth from the bad decisions he has suffered in the past. The Mexican-born Molina bounced back beautifully in a shut-out against Damian Frias in his last fight in August and will be headlining a card for the first time tonight in his hometown of Chicago.
"At 29, I’m ready to enter my prime. I want this to be the fight where everybody is like, 'Damn, give this guy a title shot',” Molina said.
Molina has richly deserved a title shot for some time now, while it is curious as to why Spinks is even in the equation for this elimination bout. Molina should have an easier time freeing himself from his past than Spinks does from his present and inevitable future.
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