By Tracy Morin at ringside
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman –

In a fierce and bloody war, 9:1 underdog John Molina Jr. (28-6, 23 KOs) outslugged former WBO junior welterweight world champion Ruslan Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs) over twelve rounds on Saturday night at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY.

Even in a mostly feeling-out first round, each fighter scored a smattering of clean power punches to the head and body, setting the stage for an action-packed, back-and-forth affair. But from the opening bell of the second, tentativeness dissipated as they started to trade with little concern for defense, Provodnikov perennially pressing forward and Molina unafraid to engage.

Molina tried to work his jab in the fourth while continuing a brutal body attack, and an accidental headbutt opened a Provodnikov cut as the punches on both sides started to land with more conviction–underlined when both fighters smiled at each other at the end of round five and traded until the bell. 

In round six, Molina’s jab helped quelled his opponent’s attack, but Provodnikov landed a stumble-inducing right-left to Molina near the end of the round. Still, Molina gamely returned fire and wisely started to tie up on the ropes and work at a jabbing distance. Provodnikov’s left hooks were also finding their mark; with action heating up, the end of the seventh saw blows traded post-bell.

Provodnikov, bleeding freely by the eighth, refused to step backward and started eating uppercuts in the ninth while at times swinging wildly as Molina continued to work his jab (though he too ate his share of power shots while pressed against the ropes).

The pace slowed significantly in the tenth as Provodnikov attempted some head movement to avoid the jab–and as both perhaps steeled themselves for the championship rounds. With fewer jabs from Molina, Provodnikov started to come on in the eleventh, even uncharacteristically bouncing and moving laterally.

In the final round, both came out firing to close a competitive fight, each willing to give and take for the advantage. The judges were in agreement, however, that Molina had taken the victory, handing in scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 117-111.

“This is the fight we needed. I felt his punching power and he kept coming forward,” Molina said afterward. “I was in great shape. I knew I won that fight. I stuck to the game plan.”

“The decision was right. Molina won the fight; he was better tonight,” Provodnikov admitted. “We expected he would box and move. It wasn’t my night tonight. It just didn’t go for me today. There’s no excuses. I lost the fight tonight. Maybe it was motivation or something else. I’m sorry if I disappointed.”

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