It is appropriate that Palace Malice emerged victorious in the 2013 Belmont Stakes this past Saturday. It seems to have been a somewhat malicious weekend for some fighters whose careers may have been inflicted by irreparable harm.
John Molina (25-3, 20 KO's)
Last year at this time, Molina was putting himself into position for his first world title shot against then WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco. The September 2012 contest had been built up as a potential 'Fight of the Year' candidate between two heavy-handed brawlers. However, disaster struck when Molina was immediately swarmed by DeMarco within the opening seconds of the fight and sent reeling into a corner by a straight left hand. Trapped in the corner without throwing back or taking a knee, Molina's championship challenge came to an abrupt and unceremonious halt when the referee stopped the fight at :44 of Round 1.
While some are of the view that Molina should have instead been given an eight count and an opportunity to fight, it is ultimately on him to earn the right to get another title shot and reverse the perception that he is not a world class caliber fighter. His majority decision loss to little known Russian Andrey Klimov on Friday night does nothing to help him do either of these things. Unable to prevent Klimov from dictating the pace of the fight and failing to make the necessary adjustments during the course of the bout, Molina allowed himself to get outpointed for six consecutive rounds by his busier and more consistent opponent.
Perhaps the only saving grace for Molina is the lack of depth in the lightweight division which may allow him to stay relevant longer than he otherwise might.
Chad Dawson (31-3, 17 KO's)
Dawson took a big risk by dropping in weight from 175 to 168 last September to fight WBA Super World/WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward. While admirable that Dawson was willing to make concessions on weight, location and money in order to make such a fight happen, he still did not receive the acknowledgement nor appreciation from the boxing community at large for taking such a chance. This has typically been the case when it comes to this skilled southpaw whose boxing style and subdued temperament have failed to capture the hearts and acceptance of fans.
The dreadful result of the Ward fight, a lopsided affair that ended by tenth round TKO, fueled the fire against Dawson even further. With the general sense that he may have lost a step following the devastating loss to Ward, all eyes were on Dawson this past Saturday night as he returned to 175 pounds in defense of his WBC light heavyweight title against Adonis Stevenson, a 35-year old knockout artist who was moving up from super middleweight for the opportunity to fight for the belt.
In what is perhaps the worst thing that could have happened in his quest to prove to the world that he was still effective as a light heavyweight world champion, Dawson was knocked out by a single punch in the first round by Stevenson. He not only lost his title, but it's quite possible that the skid of his career is now officially underway.
Alfredo Angulo (22-3, 18 KO's)
A former top ranked light middleweight contender, "El Perro" found himself having to scratch his way back into contention following a sixth round TKO loss at the hands of James Kirkland in November 2011. This became even more difficult to achieve when he was subsequently detained for seven months in the United States Immigration ICE Detention Center in El Centro, California due to visa issues, keeping him out of the ring for a year.
Since his return in November 2012, the fan-friendly Angulo has been fast-tracked back into contention and exhibited a good deal of bite on Saturday night against the crafty and technically proficient Erislandy Lara, knocking the talented Cuban down twice. However, it was a two punch combination punctuated by a straight left hand by Lara that ended the evening and perhaps Angulo's comeback.
Suffering what is believed to be a fractured orbital bone of his left eye, Angulo was unable to continue and lost by a tenth round TKO when he turned his back on the action. Prior to sustaining this injury, Angulo's face had been bloodied and swollen from the precise shots he absorbed from the sharp-shooting Lara. It leads one to wonder just how much of an impact this injury will have on the "face-first" fighting style of the aggressive and relentless Angulo. We have seen the effects such an injury had on Antonio Margarito, another come-forward Mexican warrior who had difficulty getting medical clearance after he shattered his orbital bone against Manny Pacquiao and was forced to retire last year following a tenth round technical knockout loss to Miguel Cotto due to swelling of his right eye.
Josesito Lopez (30-6, 18 KO's)
The "Riverside Rocky" may be more like Cinderella, with the clock perhaps having struck midnight on his realistic world championship aspirations. He was a victim of circumstance when this light welterweight was catapulted into a world title bout with 154-pound champion Saul "Canelo" Alvarez last September, a fight he had no chance of winning against the bigger, stronger and faster Mexican.
At 5'9½", Lopez has the height and reach to compete as a welterweight, but can he fill-out in power and strength to be a viable threat in this division? There is no questioning his heart, grit and determination, always giving a heavyweight level effort in the ring as evidenced by his upset TKO victory over Victor Ortiz last summer in his debut at welterweight. But how much of that was due to his motivation to pull off the upset in light of the disrespect shown to him by Golden Boy Promotions who officially announced Ortiz as a future opponent for Alvarez prior to the Lopez fight? Or how much of that was due to Ortiz choosing to quit after suffering a broken jaw? Although he gave a spirited effort throughout the contest and appeared to be coming on as the Ortiz fight progressed, Lopez was behind on all three cards at the time of the stoppage.
Conversely, Lopez was ahead on two cards at the time his non-titled welterweight fight against Marcos Maidana was stopped in Round 6 on Saturday night. Lopez hurt Maidana in Rounds 3 and 4 and had the dangerous Argentine on the defensive as those two rounds came to a close. However, Lopez was unable to finish off his opponent and ultimately could not keep Maidana off of him, getting knocked down in the sixth round and swarmed with unanswered blows in the ensuing attack as the referee called off the fight at 1:18.
Since Lopez will always give an exciting fight, he is expected to continue to be featured on future cards in a heavily stacked welterweight division. However, he will most likely play the role of the entertaining and tough opponent as Lopez has not yet convincingly persuaded many that he can overtake the stronger and/or more technically proficient welterweights who stand between him and a world championship.
Then again, it only takes one punch in boxing to get back into the fight. Until the final bell sounds for any of these four fighters, we just might see some of them making their way back down the stretch.
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