Terence Crawford (-4000) vs John Molina Jr. (+2000), Draw (+3500)
Terence Crawford (29-0, 20 KO) will defend his unified light welterweight titles against contender John Molina Jr. (29-6, 23 KO) on December 10 in his home state of Omaha.
Crawford is undefeated after 29 fights and has steamrolled through three formidable opponents since winning the vacated WBO light welterweight title. Now, he takes on Molina, a hard-hitting brawler and one of the top contenders in the division.
In theory, Molina is a favorable match-up for the versatile and technically-gifted Crawford. As a power puncher, Molina is capable of turning out the lights early in a fight, but he’s extremely inconsistent and vulnerable on defense. He’s also on the road back from three consecutive losses and a positive drug test that saw him fined and suspended.
His last title shot in 2012 ended only 44 seconds into the first round when he was mauled by then-lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco. Many expect the upcoming title shot to end in a similar way.
The cynical view of this match-up is that it is intended as a launching pad for Crawford. A win against Molina would mean a real shot at a big-money fight against someone like Manny Pacquiao (if the Mayweather fight doesn’t end up happening). The title defense against Molina, in the eyes of many, is just a way to pad Crawford’s resume and float his name. In other words, this is a fight designed for Molina to lose.
But this doesn’t give Molina the credit he deserves. Since his three consecutive losses, Molina has come up with two convincing wins. The first was against Jorge Romero, whom he knocked out in just three rounds. The most recent was against Russian Ruslan Provodnikov, who held the light welterweight title from 2013 to 2014.
Then again, those fighters are not on the same level as Crawford. Provodnikov, though a former champion, is nowhere near as technical as Terence. He’s a slugger, and Molina knows how to deal with sluggers. What has yet to be seen is whether he can handle a fighter like Crawford, who can pick you apart for 12 rounds.
While Molina’s long odds and puncher’s chance make the underdog a tempting play, I can’t back anyone other than Crawford in this fight. His technical skills will dominate from start to finish.
Pick: Terence Crawford (-4000)
Photo credit: “Junior Moar and Billy Bailey” by Martial Arts Nomad, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.