By: Hans Themistode
In a career that has spanned over a decade, Heavyweight contender Eric Molina (27-5, 19 KOs) has seen just about everything in the sport of boxing. He has seen his highs, such as going on an 18 fight win streak from 2007-2011. But he has also seen his fair share of lows including knockout losses in multiple bids to win a Heavyweight title.
In an interview with Boxing Insider Radio which airs every Tuesday and is available on iTunes, Spotify and on Boxinginsider.com, Molina broke down many facets of the Heavyweight division including who he believes is the best in the world and how he expects his showdown to go against the undefeated Filip Hrgovic.
To say that the Heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr will be the biggest fight of the year would be putting it mildly.
Earlier this year on June 1st, Ruiz shocked the world by scoring a seventh round stoppage win over Joshua and snagged his belts in the process.
With the rematch set to take place in just a few days, it isn’t hyperbole to say that this contest is receiving a ton of buzz. But that’s normal for just about any other contest that features two seemingly larger than life figures. For this bout however, there seems to be more. We could be on the verge of something historical, at least according to Eric Molina.
“When I heard about this event a couple months back I had a feeling that I was going to be apart of it,” said Molina. “This is such an iconic event. This is going to go down like the Thrilla in Manila when Ali fought George Foreman and I feel so blessed to be apart of it.”
Molina will surely be given his chance to soak up this historic event that he is taking part in, but he won’t be allowed to enjoy it too much. His opponent, Filip Hrgovic (9-0, 7 KOs) is looking to claim the biggest scalp of his career when the two face off in the desert this Saturday night.
Forgive Molina if he isn’t able to go into great details about his opponent. He is after all, ten years older and his seen his fair share of big contest in his long career.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who he was,” said Molina in regards to Hrgovic. “But I looked him up a little bit and he’s seasoned and a tough kid, but I didn’t know much about him.”
For the long time contender, this is a stage that he has seen time and time again. He is fresh off a win against Nick Guivas earlier this year, and wants to make it two in a row this coming Saturday night.
With this huge contest just a few days away, many have given their opinions on how they see this contest playing out. Very few however, can give a true judgement on this contest like Molina can. He did after all share the ring with Joshua in 2016 where he was stopped in the third round in his bid to win a world title.
“Man, I gotta go with Andy Ruiz. I think his style is all wrong for Joshua. I do believe that Joshua will make some adjustments but I think Andy Ruiz will adjust to those adjustments and I kind of feel like Andy Ruiz has taken Joshua’s best shot and pushed through it. Joshua hasn’t taken Ruiz best shot and walked through it. That is a big mental thing to have to overcome in this next fight. I think that Ruiz has the beard to take the punishment and keep moving forward.”
The winner of this mega event between Ruiz and Joshua will have a long list of options for their next contest. The Heavyweight division is currently in a golden era with so many amazing fighters that currently reside in the division.
If you ask five people who they believe is the best fighter in the weight class, you are likely to receive five different answers. Molina, like many others, has his own list in which he believes are the best that the division has to offer. Including who he believes is number one.
“Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua and Luis Ortiz are the top five in the division but as far as who’s the best, I would have to say hands down that Wilder is the best fighter. Wilder brings an impact of one punch that we have never seen in the boxing Heavyweight division. He can lose every second of every round and he can turn your lights off and win the fight and I don’t think we’ve ever seen that with one punch in boxing. It’s been done by other fighters throughout history but it hasn’t been done at the percentage that he has done it. There has been many fighters that have been great at one punch knockouts but Deontay Wilder is on a whole other level. His IQ in the ring and setting up his punches makes him hands down the hardest hitting puncher in the world.”
Few can argue with the list of Molina. However, there was one omission, and that would be Heavyweight newcomer Oleksandr Usyk.
“I’m 6’5, 245 pounds and I’m small. These are big guys. I get that he is crafty and he can move but I don’t believe he has the power to make these guys respect him.”
The criticism levied against Usyk for his lack of power is a proper one. Many have wondered if the former undisputed Cruiserweight champion will be able to truly contend in his new weight division.
In the boxing world, things can become fairly unpredictable. Not many would have thought that Ruiz could in fact pull off the upset of a lifetime against Joshua the first time around. Boxing, is akin to life. You never know what you can expect as constant curveballs will continuously be thrown your way. Molina can relate to this as the Heavyweight contender was suspended from fighting in the United Kingdom for two years due to a failed drug test.
It was a harsh punishment as it was an anti-inflammatory and not an actual performance enhancing drug. The steep penalty was one that Molina believed was unnecessary. However, now that he has served his time, he is convinced that it all worked out in the end.
“I feel like I needed that time off but it was definitely a dark place in my life. It wasn’t even a performance enhancing drug it was an anti-inflammatory. I been in the game for 13 years now and I got punished for something that is much harsher than anyone has ever been punished in the sport. I’m sitting back and watching guys get popped with steroids and fight within months. I don’t want to harp on this too much because I am a positive guy, but there is a fighter that is going to be fighting on December 7th who got caught with several steroids and they still let him fight and nothing has happened to him and now he’ll be fighting on December 7th, on the same card as me. It’s mind boggling to me. But for those two years that I sat out it gave my body a chance to heal because I was taking so many big fights on short notice so I feel like these two years made me stronger and let me heal. I just feel blessed to be here on this card.”
That unnamed fighter in which Molina was referring to was Dillian Whyte who seemingly failed his own drug test but as of now, has gone unpunished. He was recently added to this card as he will be taking on Mariusz Wach.
Casting all of the negative press behind. Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz will certainly garner most of the attention, but Eric Molina vs Filip Hrgovic has all the makings to be a great fight in its on right.
“I’m so confident with this fight. Styles make fights. I feel strong and focused. I’m just excited to be apart of history.”