This year was supposed to end with a tune-up bout for Canelo Alvarez this weekend, but an unexpected thumb injury curbed that plan. Instead, HBO came with an equally entertaining event in the form of Omaha’s bright young star, Terence “Bud” Crawford.
After a 5th round TKO over Philadelphia’s Hank Lundy in February, and a mildly dominant unanimous decision victory over Viktor Postol in July, the WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion was hoping to be next in line to fight Manny Pacquiao.
Instead, Jesse Vargas got the shot and was schooled by the veteran Filipino fighter who walked away with his WBO welterweight title. However, now en route to a potential Pacquiao matchup in 2017, Crawford must face the slow but efficient technical prowess of John Molina, Jr.
Molina, Jr. rebounded from a three-fight losing streak in 2014 through the early part of 2015 to Lucas Matthysse, Humberto Soto and Adrien Broner when he gave Jorge Romero a 3rd round TKO in late 2015. His star really shone when he was given a main event shot against Ruslan Provodnikov on a Premier Boxing Champions card in June.
Using a consistent jab, Molina, Jr. managed to outpoint Provodnikov over 12 rounds in the WBO World Junior Welterweight title eliminator. Molina upset the favored Provodnikov, who came into the bout ranked #1 by the WBC, #2 by the WBO, #2 by the WBA, #3 by Ring Magazine, and #4 by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Molina came into the bout ranked #8 by the WBO.
Crawford was thought to be sidelined by nothing other than the glitz an Alvarez versus anybody bout or Golovkin-Danny Jacobs bout would have brought to HBO’s end-of-year match, especially in a post-Andre Ward win over Sergey Kovalev world.
The 2014 Boxing Writer’s Association Fighter of the Year Award winner is on the cusp of being considered one of the best in the game and is in the running for the honors this year. As his level of competition steps up,so will his notoriety.
Molina, Jr. is a solid opponent that possesses the ability to change the trajectory of a fighter's career, a la his Provodnikov victory, however, with Crawford fighting again at the Century Link in his native city of Omaha, Nebraska, it will be a hard-fought road.