As an HBO television camera zoomed in on their conversation, Ann Wolfe, the trainer of junior middleweight prospect James Kirkland, pulled Carlos Molina close to her so that he could hear her voice above the loud boos at Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas, on Saturday night.
“You were winning,” Wolfe emphasized to Molina. “You were winning.”
The scene took place in the chaotic aftermath of referee Jon Schorle’s decision to disqualify Molina in the 10th round of his fight against Kirkland as a result of Molina’s cornerman briefly hopping into the ring before the round’s official ending.
The situation developed after Molina, ahead on two of the three judges’ cards, had been dropped by Kirkland, prompting Schorle to begin a 10-count which morphed into a standing eight. Molina’s cornerman had reacted to a round-ending bell that had sounded almost at the same instant as the knockdown.
It also ended an otherwise masterful boxing performance by Molina, whose holding, pot-shotting and in-and-out movement frustrated Kirkland, disrupting him to the point that he rarely got into a rhythm. Molina was down for only the second time in his career.
The victory was the fourth straight for Kirkland (31-1, 27 knockouts), three of them by knockout, since being stopped himself in the first-round by Nobuhiro Ishida in April.
Kirkland is coming off November’s come-from-behind, sixth-round knockout of Alfredo Angulo, against whom he was floored 30 seconds into the bout only to drop Angulo just before the bell ending the same round. Angulo was knocked out for the first time in his career.
The loss, conversely, continued a tough-luck career for Molina, ending his 11-0-1 unbeaten streak after having sandwiched a win over two-time welterweight beltwinner Kermit Cintron in July and a draw with then-unbeaten southpaw Erislandy Lara in March around a seventh-round stoppage of Allen Conyers in April.
Many thought Molina (19-5-2, 6 KOs) should have been given the victory over Lara.
Molina’s earlier career includes a draw, followed by a six-round majority decision loss to unbeaten current WBC middleweight beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in December of 2005 and 2006, respectively.
Molina spoke to RingTV.com early Sunday morning regarding his past, the fight with Kirkland, and his future.
RingTV.com: Do you recall what was said during your post-fight converation with Ann Wolfe in the ring immediately after the fight?
Carlos Molina: Yeah, she said that I was winning the fight. That was pretty nice of her. She was cool about it, you know?
She was saying that I was winning the fight. She said that it if had happened to her, that she would have been pissed off too. We hurt the fans with that one.
Because the fans, I’m sure, wanted to see the last two rounds. It could have been a great fight, but they stopped it from happening.
RingTV.com: What are your feelings right now, given that you’ve given so many good fighters difficulty and not come away with the win?
CM: Man, I feel horrible. It’s like, I don’t know how to explain it. You know? Instead of it being a victory for me and a celebration, it’s a loss.
You didn’t get the chance to finish the fight. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good at all. I mean, I’m going to stay focused and motivated and I’m going to come back stronger.
I’m not going to get discouraged over this because of what they did to me. But you know, right now, it’s really, really bothering me.
RingTV.com: How was your gameplan working out and what was going right for you in the fight?
CM: I felt like I was doing like I always do. I feel like I’m at my best when I’m on the inside. Usually everybody that I fight is taller than me, but Kirkland was shorter.
I just figured that no matter your gameplan, you’re always going to go back to what you do. I just wanted to stay working on the inside, you know? Working his head and his body, up and down.
I was trying to make him miss. I didn’t make him miss as much as I wanted to, but I felt like I did enough to be winning and to get the win.
RingTV.com: Were you at all hurt by the punch that he landed in the 10th round that floored you?
CM: No. No I wasn’t hurt. I was leaning in, and I lost my balance, and at the same time, that’s when it happened. You know? I got up right away and I felt good. I was ready to go.
Then I don’t know what happened. I couldn’t even believe it. The bell rang and I went back to my corner. My cornerman was trying to get me back into the corner. It was terrrible.
RingTV.com: Can you talk about the ending sequence from the time that you went down until the resolution of the fight?
CM: I got up right away, and I felt like I had lost my balance. The referee counted at me, and I was trying to get back to my corner because I had heard that the bell had been rung.
And then, the next thing that I know, I see the referee over by Kirkland’s corner, and I started to wonder, “what’s he over there for?”
And then, the next thing you know, my corner is telling him not to stop the fight. It was like the referee was listening to their corner and the complaints and what was going on over on their side.
It was not his own decision. It’s like the referee should have been over in my corner and telling them not to come in or something like that. What was he doing over on the other side by Kirkland? That’s what I don’t understand.
RingTV.com: Did you have a conversation with Kirkland after the fight?
CM: He said, “good fight.” He just said, “good fight,” pretty much. We didn’t talk too much. I talked more to Ann Wolfe. Ann Wolfe talked about the fact that this was bad for boxing, all around.
We both worked hard for this day, and for something like that to happen and to cut this short, it’s not a victory. I don’t care which corner you’re coming out of, you still don’t like it to end like that.
RingTV.com: Do you think that in any way your performance, despite the loss, has elevated you to another level in the eyes of the fans, if not, the networks?
CM: I sure hope so, because that’s what I want. I want the public to know that I want the toughest fights and the best fighters out there at 154 pounds.
Hopefully, one of these days, I’ll be up there for a world title. I’m just trying to make a bigger name for myself at 154 pounds.
Hopefully, people know me now as somebody who can fight with anybody in the Top 10 at 154 pounds. I hope that this doesn’t make it harder for me to get a fight instead of easier.
I mean, I beat somebody and then it’s harder. I beat Kermit Cintron, and then he gets a title shot with [Saul] Canelo Alvarez. That’s not the way that it’s supposed to work, I don’t think.
RingTV.com: Will it be difficult to return to training after something like this?
CM: It’s not going to be hard at all. I want to get back into the gym right now. I want to work hard and to do the best that I can. I want to be the best fighter that I can, whatever that takes.
I know that I can make the fight even easier, I believe, the next time. If I get the rematch, I’ll make it even easier. After seeing the mistakes that he made and the mistakes that I made, I’ll work on that, for sure, and come back even stronger.
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by Jon Elits, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org