By Chris Cella
Tonight’s ESPN’s Friday Night Fights came live from the Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two hard hitting lightweights—Dannie Williams (22-2, 18 KO) and John Molina (24-2, 19 KO)—waging war in the main event of the evening.
In the opening bout of the evening, two local junior welterweights made their pro debut. Brandon Holmes of Santa Fe stopped Abelardo Javier Esparza of Albuquerque in the fourth and final round.
Controlling the first three rounds, Holmes progressively found his rhythm, and began to land shots at will against Esparza. Esparza’s lack of experience as an amateur—0-3 in three fights—showed as he lacked the technical skill of a boxer with ring rounds under his belt. Although he took the fight on only two weeks’ notice, Esparza was outclassed by the more refined Holmes and it was apparent he wasn’t ready to step into the pro ranks.
Despite only having 10 amateur fights, Holmes showed good technique and ring sense, and was able to execute through each round and avoid Esparza’s wild, loopy punches.
To start the fourth round he backed Esparza into the corner and landed a barrage of power shots, eventually dropping his opponent 25 seconds into the round. Down on one knee, Esparza took the referee’s count, and Holmes’ hand was raised as he won the first fight of what can be a promising career.
Both punchers came into this fight with the hope of getting a title shot somewhere down the road in 2013.
Brandon Gonzales vs. Don Mouton
Undefeated Brandon “Flawless” Gonzales took on Don Mouton in a clash of middleweights. Gonzales came into this bout with only one trip to the ring last year, but was able to edge out the 34-year-old Mouton to earn a unanimous decision.
Through each round Mouton came forward like a bull, bringing the fight to Gonzales, but did so without throwing punches and without any head movement, so Gonzales was able to utilize his uppercut to earn points.
There were countless times throughout the fight where Gonzales could’ve easily picked Mouton apart using his jab and right hand, but the undefeated prospect chose to stand in a phone booth and make more of a fight than it needed to be, resulting in him eating more than a few left hooks, which seemed to be Mouton’s only weapon.
Late in the fight Mouton seemed to come a bit to life, as he landed some solid shots in the seventh and eighth rounds, but it was too little too late.
Exiting the win with the “W”, Gonzales didn’t seem to do enough to show that he is ready to step up against some of the elite fighters in the division. He seemed to lack the drive to finish Mouton, but was able to execute with enough technicality to earn the unanimous decision. If his hopes for 2013 include fighting for a piece of hardware, Gonzales needs to remain consistent within the squared circle and re-ignite his ability to finish off an opponent.
Dannie Williams vs. John Molina
The main event of the evening was a matchup between two fighters who needed to prove where they were at in their careers, and what lies ahead for them in 2013. For Molina it was to prove that he could bounce back after his first round knockout loss last September; for Williams it was to show that he is a legit contender.
The first four rounds of the fight were evenly matched as both fighters found their rhythm, established their timing and found the loopholes in their opponent, but Williams looked a bit sluggish and unlike what he has shown prior to this bout. He seemed off, and as each round passed Molina appeared to regain his confidence. With less than a minute left in the fourth round, Molina landed a devastating right hand, staggering Williams and putting him to the canvas. Williams got to his feet, though he was standing on the wrong side of the ropes, and the referee called it quits.
Molina proved that he is ready to make a run at a title shot again; he put to rest any doubt that he would be a different fighter coming back following the knockout loss.
For Williams it will be going back to the drawing board. Whether he was simply lacking focus or drive tonight, he lost in a big way, and this is a big derailment of his plans to earn another title fight in 2013.