Molina still fighting with passion as he prepares for fisticuffs against Provodnikov

John Molina Jr. got a late start in boxing, but he’s packed a lot of punches into the time he’s spent in the ring.

John Molina Jr. and Adrien Broner

John Molina Jr., shown during his loss to Adrien Broner in March 2015, is looking to get back into title contention Saturday night with a win against former 140-pound champion Ruslan Provodnikov. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

The 33-year-old Covina, California, native has engaged in some ferocious battles over his 10-year professional career, punctuated by his April 2014 slugfest with Lucas Matthysse, which was named Fight of the Year.

John Molina Jr. (28-6, 23 KOs) was knocked out in the 11th round of that action-packed 140-pound bout, one of five losses he has suffered in his last nine fights, including three in his last four contests.

With his propensity for engaging in all-out brawls, “The Gladiator” has withstood a lot of punishment over the past decade.

But as the hammer-fisted Molina prepares to face former 140-pound world champion Ruslan Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs) at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), he remains committed to propelling himself back into title contention.

“[Retirement] has never even crossed my mind,” Molina said. “I love to fight. It’s my livelihood, and whether I’ve won or lost, I’ve gained experience and gotten better.

“I’m thankful for everything that I’ve gotten in my career, but I’m just getting warmed up. The fans know what they’re going to get from me every time I’m in the ring.”

Molina turned pro in 2006 after a brief amateur career and won 24 of his first 25 fights, losing only by unanimous decision to Martin Honorio in November 2009.

He landed a title shot against then 135-pound champion Antonio DeMarco in September 2012, but was sent reeling by a left hand in the opening minute of the bout and lost by first-round TKO.

“I think everyone saw that the DeMarco fight was an aberration,” said Molina, who subsequently won three of his next four bouts, including a 10th-round TKO of then-unbeaten Mickey Bey, who was leading on all three judges’ cards at the time of the stoppage.

“Taking nothing away from DeMarco, I always chalked that up to a lack of experience. I should have taken a knee [before referee Jack Weiss stopped the bout], but I didn’t, which is neither here nor there. But I learned a lot from that fight in 40-some seconds, and that’s gotten me to where I am today.”

Molina’s bloody battle with Matthysse, during which he downed the Argentine slugger twice before being floored twice himself, began a three-fight skid that also included losses by unanimous decision to Humberto Soto in September 2014 and Adrien Broner in March 2015.

Molina rebounded in November with a third-round TKO of Jorge Romero in Dallas, and now looks to build on that success Saturday against the hard-charging Provodnikov, who fights with the same reckless abandon Molina employs and who also lost a bloody war to Matthysse.

Despite all of the abuse Molina has absorbed—as well as dished out—over his 153 professional rounds, he's remained relatively healthy during his career. Now he looks to once again establish himself as a legitimate contender with a victory against Provodnikov in what promises to be an all-action throwdown.

“The only injuries I’ve suffered were a couple of bad tastes in my mouth after fights I thought I won,” Molina said. “With that being said, I think a victory [Saturday] will avenge all of that. … This fight is going to catapult my career in the right direction.”

For a complete look at Provodnikov vs Molina, visit our fight page.

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