By Miguel Maravilla
2008 U.S. Olympian Javier “El Intocable” Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) looks to continue his win streak as he takes on former two-weight world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs), of Puerto Rico. Molina takes on Pedraza this Saturday in a 10-round junior welterweight main event from the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas headlining live on ESPN+.
“I am excited and ready to put on a show,” Javier Molina told Fightnews.com®. “I’m expecting the best Pedraza. I have the momentum. We are coming to this fight confident we are going to win.”
Interestingly, Pedraza opened as a -250 favorite, but the odds have tightened to -190 as money rolls in on Molina.
Having wrapped up camp with his long-time trainer Roberto Luna, which has guided him through numerous amateur accolades along with his father Don Miguel Molina. The team prepared in Southern California and Molina is ready to go.
“I have been working with my coach Robert Luna that I have had since the amateurs. It’s been a good camp, our original gym was closed so had to look for another gym, a backyard gym. We are in LA so there is a lot of sparring. We are happy with this camp,” Molina said on his preparation for this fight.
A lot at stake in this fight as the winner stays in the hunt for a potential world title shot.
“I feel I’m in a good position to fight for a world title. A win over Pedraza, I feel I’m deserving of a world title shot,” Molina stated.
Since turning pro in 2009 following the Olympic summer games in Beijing, China. Molina began his professional career 9-0, 4 KO’s before suffering his first defeat at the hands of Artemio Reyes back in 2011. Bouncing back, Molina won 8 straight bouts and then dropped a decision to Jamal James in 2016.
“I was fighting at 147 at that time. I wasn’t really taking it seriously. I was walking around at 170. That weight wasn’t for me. It’s been a big difference. Now I am comfortable at 140,” Molina said. “There was also a lot of partying. I wasn’t in it. It was my fault. I was undisciplined early on. I am fully responsible for my actions.”
Shortly after Molina had some tough decisions to make.
“There were some tough times where I thought about not fighting anymore, but I have so much to give in the sport. That’s why I decided to turn my career around. I have dedicated myself to the sport, and that’s why I’m in this position right now.”
Spending two- years out of the ring it was family first for Molina. During his hiatus, Molina worked a full-time warehouse graveyard shift to support his family. It was during this time in which Molina was seriously considering retirement from the sport he loves.
“In those 2 years, I got a job at the Smart and Final warehouse and my whole life changed. I would go in to work at 7:30 pm and get out at 8am, sometimes I would work weekends. It was tough and I wasn’t satisfied on how my career ended up,” Molina on his two-years out of the ring. “I had a lot to give to this sport. I had a family to provide for. It was tough times. I had opportunities to make things happen.”
Molina returned to the ring in 2018. Following that fight he signed a promotional contract with Top Rank in early 2019, Molina has not disappointed with wins over Abdiel Ramirez, Manuel Mendez, and a first round knockout over Hiroki Okada. Since signing with Top Rank, Molina has gone 4-0 as he looks to shake things up in the junior welterweight division.
“I went 2 years without fighting and then Golden Boy got me a fight,” Molina said. “I have been on a streak and I’m planning to keep on winning.”
Coming off a unanimous decision over Amir Imam early this year in February. Molina was on the big stage fighting on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury II epic pay per view undercard.
“Against Imam. He was a tough hungry fighter. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so we executed the plan and now we are here,” Molina commented on his last fight.
Finding himself in the hunt at the junior welterweight division, with a win here Molina hopes to get a crack at a title shot. Champions at 140 include WBC/WBO kingpin Jose Ramirez and WBA/IBF ruler Josh Taylor. Other notable potential fights for Molina at 140 include, former world title challenger Jose Zepeda, the winner of Alex Saucedo vs. Arnold Barboza who are scheduled to meet later this year, and former world champion Ivan Baranchyk.
“By beating Pedraza, I put myself in a good position to challenge for a world title. I know that a victory against a great name like Pedraza will bring me closer to that opportunity to become a champion,” Molina said.
The 30-year old remains focused on Pedraza as he understands the challenge the former world champion represents.
“I have known Pedraza since 2007 at the world championships. He was fighting for Puerto Rico and I was fighting for U.S. Fast forward 13 years later here we are,” Molina said. “I’m cool with being the underdog. There is a reason I’m seen that way, and it’s because I haven’t shown my full potential. Fans haven’t seen all I can do in the ring. Like I said, I’m alright with being the underdog. I’m going to surprise a lot of people on Saturday,” Molina added.
Pedraza only defeats came at the hands of world champion Gervonta Davis and Vasyl Lomachenko as well as a recent loss to top contender Jose Zepeda. Pedraza won a unanimous decision over Mikkel Les Pierre this past June at the Bubble in MGM in headlining on ESPN.
“Pedraza looked good against LesPierre, but I’m not LesPierre. He is flatfooted and I’m not. We have been studying all his recent fights and my game plan is similar to what Lomachenko and Zepeda did against him. If they think I’m going to be outgunned this Saturday, they are in for a big surprise.” Molina said.
“We have answers for anything he brings. I can adapt to whatever he does the ring. If he wants to brawl, we’re going to brawl, and if I have to box and move around, that’s what I will do to win the fight. I feel I can adapt to any style he brings.”
Expect this to be a very tactical fight, Molina hopes to get past the former world champion as there lie potential opportunities soon.
“We are on track. I feel like I am peaking, and this is a time to fight the elite for the world titles,” Molina stated. “You will see on Saturday night. I will surprise everyone and put on a show.”
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