LAS VEGAS — Perennial contender Carlos Molina ground out a split-decision to dethrone IBF junior middleweight beltholder Ishe Smith before a packed house at the MGM Grand on Saturday night on Showtime Pay Per View.
“I felt good about the win tonight, but I’m never satisfied, and I’m never happy with my performance,” said Molina, who rose to 22-5-2 with six knockouts, dropping Smith to 25-6, with 11 KOs. “In the ring, I always feel like I can do better and do more.”
Molina-Smith took place on the undercard of a main event featuring Floyd Mayweather Jr. (44-0, 26 KOs) against Canelo Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs), with the co-feature being RING junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia against Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs).
“I want the winner of tonight’s fight (between Mayweather and Alvarez),” said Molina. “It makes sense.”
Also, Mexican welterweight Pablo Cesar Cano (27-3-1, 20 KOs) hammered out a 10-round split-decision over England’s Ashley Theophane (33-6-1, 10 KOs), winning 97-93, and, 98-92, respectively on the cards of Dick Houck and Patricia Morse Jarrman, with Ricardo Ocasio scoring it for Theophane, 96-94.
Cano was last in the ring for a unanimous decision loss to Shane Mosley in May, while Theophane was ending a nine-month ring absence, having stopped Chaurembo Palasa in the first-round in December.
The rust showed in Theophane, 33, who was shaken and nearly dropped by the 23-year-old Cano with a third-round left hook that sent the Brit reeling across the ring. Cano absorbed a solid right in the fourth, but kept coming and delivering vicious punishment that had Theophane bleeding profusely from his nose.
Theophane fought back in the fifth. After nearly being dropped with a right hand, he delivered his own potent left, a right and then another right just prior to the bell. Theophane fought bravely the rest of the way, but was consistently hurt, battered and out-hustled by the younger man.
“I’m really happy with the victory. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t knock him out,” said Cano. “He moved too fast, and it was too hard to hit him. But overall, I’m happy with the experience that this fight gave me.”
In the night’s first fight, super middleweight Lanell Bellows (6-0-1, 5KOs) of Las Vegas used a left to the body to score a first-round knockout of Jordan Moore (3-1) at the 2:30 mark.
The second bout lasted only 74 seconds before referee Russell Mora stopped it, as Chris Pearson (12-0, 9 KOs) had turned the face of middleweight rival Joshua Williams (9-6, 5 KOs) into a crimson mask.
Super middleweight Ronald Gavril (7-0, 5 KOs) of Las Vegas scored an eight-round, unanimous decision over Shujaa El Amin (12-5, 6 KOs) of Flint, Mich., by scores of 79-73 on all three cards.
Super middleweight Luis Arias (7-0, 3 KOs) of Las Vegas also came up with a unaniimous deciision, over six rounds againstt James Winchester (16-9, 6 KOs) of Reidsville, N.C.
A cruiserweights Andrew Tabiti (1-0, 1 KO) of Las Vegas and Edward Smith (1-0) of New York never materialized, owing to an issue over drug testing, according to Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“I was told that when Smith was told he would have to give a pre-fight urine sample,” said Kizer, in an e-mail to RingTV.com. “He left the locker room and has never returned.”
Photos by Al Bello-Gettyimages; Chris Trotman-Golden Boy Promotions/Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org