John Molina, Jr. rang in 2013 with a bang.
Molina disposed of fellow lightweight Dannie Williams in the 4th round with a right hand upstairs that was set up behind his long jab in the main event of ESPN2 Friday Night Fights. Williams was so disoriented by the barrage that he came to his feet on the outside of the ropes, where referee Rocky Burke decided to call a halt to all action.
It was the first fight for Molina, 30, who was flattened in 44 seconds by Antonio DeMarco on Sept. 8.
Much to the chagrin of ringside commentators Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas, Molina touched gloves at the opening bell of the lightweight bout, not the attitude the announcing duo anticipated. After a nondescript first two rounds, a clash of heads floored Williams. Whether he was woozy from the butt or the solid left hook he absorbed on the chin as the round ticked down, Williams (22-3, 18 KOs) never regained his proper footing.
Molina notched his 25th victory and 20th knockout against just two defeats.
“That’s the name of the game,” Molina said to Tessitore about his propensity to be involved in exciting fights.
In the eight-round co-feature, undefeated super middleweight Brandon “Flawless” Gonzalez took a unanimous decision over a game-but-outgunned Don Mouton. Official scores were 78-75, 77-75 and 77-75.
Gonzalez, who weighed in at the heaviest of his five-year career, increased to 17-0-1 with 10 knockouts. Halfway through the bout, Gonzalez accumulated a 107-59 connect advantage but slowed his output as the match crept to a close. Mouton (11-5-1, 9 KOs), who hit the scales seven pounds north of his previous bout, suffered his first loss in his last four fights.
It was a hot start to the new year by sizzling trainer Virgil Hunter, who also trains Andre Ward.
To kick off the telecast, lightweight Brandon Holmes impressed the Santa Fe, N.M., fans with a 4th round knockout of Esparza in the professional debut of both fighters. Holmes landed a looping left and followed it with a straight right that sent Esparza to the canvas with 45 seconds left in the round, where referee Richard Espinosa counted out Esparza.
After an opening round that saw Holmes set a pace by outlanding his opponent 32-3, the hometown rookie stalked his opponent throughout the middle frames of the scheduled four-round fight before landing the finishing combination.
In a four-round swing bout that followed the main event, 18-year-old Eduardo Dominguez received the nod in his professional debut over Joshua Montoya (0-2), who moonlights as a boxer between MMA matches. Judges scored the fight 40-36 and 39-37 twice.
Addressing last week’s season premiere, studio analyst Todd Grisham reported Arash Usmanee has not yet filed an appeal with the Florida Athletic Commission concerning his unanimous decision loss to Rances Barthelemy.