On December 10, 2016 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Terence Crawford (31-0, 21 KOs) successfully defended his WBC and WBO Super Lightweight titles by stopping John Molina, Jr. (29-7, 23 KOs) in the eighth round.
The announcement of this fight was met with mixed reviews, but it was a replacement matchup on a date originally set for Gennady Golovkin and Danny Jacobs. Molina earned a shot at Crawford by upsetting former titlist, Ruslan Provodnikov, in the biggest win of his career.
Crawford, who is actively campaigning for Fighter of the Year honors, added a second title to his mantle this year by defeating Viktor Postal for the WBC strap.
Molina was outclassed from the moment he signed the contract–and it didn’t help that he came into the fight four pounds overweight. Crawford started fast against Molina, in an orthodox stance, landing right hands with ease.
Out of frustration, Molina would occasionally land a wild right hand, prompting Crawford to switch to southpaw. Once Crawford switched stances, Molina had nothing to offer the Omaha native.
Crawford would circle Molina all night, picking him apart with his left hand.
Whether Crawford lead with it, or countered with it; Molina’s lack of head movement and flat out refusal to cut off the ring made him an easy target for the champion.
Also, Crawford consistently worked the body, which helped him get the stoppage down the stretch.
By the third round, Molina had only landed six punches according to CompuBox stats. It was in this round that he had his moment, as he again landed a wild right hand, that backed Crawford to the ropes.
Molina pressed with a flurry of punches, but Crawford escaped and responded some clean left hand counterpunches.
Whenever Molina could get close, Crawford wisely tied up to avoid Molina’s offense. Sticking to his game plan, Crawford continued to circle and counter an increasingly desperate Molina.
Crawford continued to throw to the midsection with straight lefts and one particular uppercut that caught Molina’s solar plexus, through the halfway point of the fight.
Down the stretch, Crawford displayed great footwork and defense avoiding a flailing Molina, then exploiting his wide punches with a variety of counter punches.
Already struggling, Molina attempted to land hard shots when Crawford’s back hits the ropes, but Crawford either tied up or used footwork to evade and pick Molina off.
By Round 7, a red-faced and severely frustrated Molina, realized he didn’t have much to offer and began throw erratic haymakers hoping to land a punch that would hurt Crawford.
That would prove impossible, as the fans in Omaha would “ooh and aah” when Crawford unleashed stiff counter shots. In the eighth and what ended up being the final round, Molina came out with a full head of steam landing a wild right, but it changed nothing as Crawford tied up, if not picking Molina apart with lead lefts.
Two minutes into the round, Crawford hurt Molina with a straight left to the body, followed by a left uppercut, and right hook that caused Molina to stumble backwards.
Crawford chased and unloaded on his wounded opponent, prompting the referee to intervene at 2:32. The hometown fans roared in approval for their native son as he successfully defended his titled.
When questioned about how easily he defeated a contender like Molina and the lack of credit he would get for wins like these, Crawford replied, “I’m just a fighter, I don’t make the fights. I just fight ’em.”
On his interest in a potential fight against Top Rank’s biggest earner, Manny Pacquiao, Crawford said, “That’s up to Bob Arum, my managers and my coaches. Of course, I would love to fight Pacquiao, but you know it’s a business.”
“Anybody with a title. Ricky Burns or the newly crowned IBF champion. I want them belts,” said Crawford.
No matter who Terence Crawford fights next, the pound-for-pound ranked champion has a bright future. Either way, he has made a strong argument for a second Fighter of the Year award.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank