by Fox Doucette
All the elements are in place for an entertaining mismatch on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights from Santa Fe, New Mexico, as John Molina (24-2-1, 19 KOs), fresh off a knockout loss to Antonio DeMarco for the WBC lightweight world title, gets back on the horse against Dannie Williams (22-2, 18 KOs), who still has yet to prove that he can beat even moderate quality opposition. The co-feature brings fans Brandon Gonzales (16-0, 10 KOs) in a showcase fight against journeyman Don Mouton (12-4-1, 10 KOs).
Dannie Williams and John Molina have a common opponent who should be very familiar to FNF audiences. Both men have fought Hammerin’ Hank Lundy on the Worldwide Leader. Molina memorably came back from far behind on the cards to score an 11th round knockout, sending Lundy to his first pro loss. Williams, while he didn’t have eleven rounds to work with, was absolutely no threat to the Philadelphia mainstay, and while he did put Lundy on the floor, that was the sole highlight of a very one-sided fight otherwise.
Williams is showing every indication of simply not being very good. His losses are to Hank Lundy and Eloy Perez; his wins, even recently, tend to be over scrubs and tomato cans. Bookending the Lundy fight were wins over (in the last three) fighters with records of 6-10-2, 33-17-6, and 3-10. At this point, that’s got the making of puffing up the record of a gatekeeper, not grooming a world champion.
This is a mismatch. John Molina may have gotten his ass kicked, but he did fight for a deserved world title shot. He’s in that Lundy/Ruslan Provodnikov/Ruben Oliveira tier of guys who can go on ESPN and get the job done in entertaining fashion (freakishly so, in the case of Molina’s win over Rob Frankel in 2011, which led to Joe Tessitore’s memorable comment that “this is why my dry cleaner thinks I’m a hit man.”) Molina gets great torque on his punches; a similar bloody mess may be in the offing if Molina can open up a cut on Williams with a punch.
Expect a fight that, if not a knockout, leads to a wide unanimous decision win in which Williams will be lucky to win two rounds. If fans are lucky, a simple mismatch could lead to a beautiful beatdown. That’s the best-case scenario here unless John Molina’s been truly affected mentally by the beating he took at the hands of Antonio DeMarco.
The co-feature is what it is; a showcase fight. Brandon Gonzales was last seen on FNF in the co-feature of Mike Dallas Jr.’s win over Javier Castro outdoors in California last June, putting together an unimpressive decision win over a 6-4 fighter. Gonzales is going to have to do better than that this time; it’s not enough to say this is a must-win fight for him. This is a must-be-entertaining fight. Anything less than a fan-friendly performance will be the death of his career as a TV fighter. Said your columnist in the recap: “In the co-feature, we learned a lot of things about Brandon Gonzales, almost none of them good, even as he won the fight easily.”
Don Mouton isn’t a complete fall guy; even though he’s nobody’s idea of a world champion, he has never been stopped in his four pro losses. Mouton’s gone the distance with Maxim Vlasov, who can dish out some pain in the ring. Curtis Stevens, another guy with some pop in his punches, was similarly unable to dispose of Mouton in the eight-round time limit given. What’s more, Mouton does have wins over decent fighters; he knocked out Jerson Ravelo in 2009 and stopped a 6-0 prospect in his last outing.
If Brandon Gonzales loses this fight, we can call him “exposed”. If he wins, but does not look good doing so, we can call him “not TV-friendly”. Only by elevating his game and putting a monster hurt on Don Mouton can Brandon Gonzales continue his viability as a prospect. Anything short of that and he is finished. One snoozer on national TV was enough.
Friday Night Fights airs on ESPN2 on January 11 at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific. The Boxing Tribune will have a full recap of the night’s televised action, including any swing fights that make air, shortly following the conclusion of the broadcast. Stay tuned; we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and a red nose and fright wig for Dannie Williams the clown can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.