Molina the Lightweight By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Nov 17, 2010) Special to Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
On Thursday night at the Club Nokia at LA Live, Carlos Molina headlines the final edition of the “Fight Night Club,” as he faces late replacement John Figueroa (who fills in for David Rodela). Molina, who comes in with a record of 13-0 (7), is now campaigning as a full-fledged lightweight. From the beginning of his career in May of 2007, he has fluctuated between 130 and 140 pounds. His preference was to fight at junior welterweight but his manager, Frank Espinoza, wanted him closer to the junior lightweight limit.
So this was the compromise that was struck.
"Yeah, that's going to be my weight class," said Molina, a couple of weeks back at the Maywood Boxing Club, before his daily workout at the gym. "From here on out, lightweight; that's it."
Molina is an active, quick-fisted fighter but he doesn't really have the size or pop to thrive as a junior welterweight.
"I think now he's adjusted to it; he just can't make 130 any longer. 140 is way too big and I think if we can keep him at 135, that's the weight he should fight at," said Espinoza.
The 24-year-old from Rosemead, California always believed that he was a lightweight but he's been aided in his attempt to get into optimum shape with a new addition to his team, Rene Flores. "He's a strength-and-conditioning coach, so I go with him at night and I think he's helped me a lot. I think he's made me stronger and leaner, also. He's made me more explosive," said Molina.
Flores explains his regimen by stating, "My training’s very unique in that I make it very specific to his movements. Boxers always do their morning runs; they go to the gym. So they get used to that. I think the biggest change is all of the plyometrics, a lot of body weight exercises."
Flores makes it clear; he does not utilize weights but bands, medicine balls and sleds. And he has Molina do modified push-ups and pull-ups. "He's picked up on it easy; he's a really, really good athlete. That's the first thing I noticed."
Molina works with Flores between three and four times a week. "He really kicks my butt when I go with him at nights," Molina says. "He really trains me hard. Another thing he had me doing is a lot of sprints now, also."
Traditional boxing roadwork usually consists of long jogs, which are usually done in a rather slow, methodical pace. But what Flores had Molina doing is, "running hard, hard sprints for like 20 minutes. It gets you more tired than for running an hour or so." According to him, it better replicates what happens in a fight. "Yeah, it does, because in a fight, it's kind of calm and then 'bam', you have to be explosive. It's a burst. It's just like a sprint. So I think that relates more to boxing."
Then there is the diet, the fuel to the engine of any athlete. And Flores' philosophy isn't all that complicated. According to him, "It’s good, clean, common-sense eating." Molina adds, "The main thing is, just not eat late. Because I've always at pretty healthy but I used to eat a little too late and now I eat the same things; I have my protein shake in the morning. I have my oatmeal, my fish and chicken. So it's pretty healthy. I just try not to eat too late now."
As for a vice he cuts out during training?
"Oh, man, In-N-Out [Burger]."
Flores, who completed his undergraduate work at Long Beach State, where he studied Sports Medicine and earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a master’s degree in education (Flores has been teaching middle school for 11 years), was brought aboard at the recommendation of Espinoza. The manager saw Flores’ rapport with another one of his boxers, IBF bantamweight titlist Yonnhy Perez.
"I like the way he worked with the exercises, the strengthening; he knows about nutrition," said the respected manager, who also guides the career of Abner Mares, Antonio Orozco, Ronny Rios and Luis Ramos. "I asked him a lot of questions and he takes a lot of interest in the fighter and I just like everything about his work ethic."
What was started with Mackie Shilstone and his work with Michael Spinks, prior to his challenge of Larry Holmes in 1985 for the heavyweight crown (and more recently, the track records of other fitness gurus like Alex Ariza and Darryl Hudson), strength-and-conditioning coaches are no longer a taboo in the sport.
"Absolutely, absolutely," agreed Flores. "In the beginning, especially the trainers, would be 'Ehhh.' I think they look at strength-and-conditioning and they think of bodybuilders or heavy weightlifting or that kind of training. It's evolved and I think, especially with Carlos, [trainer] Clemente [Medina], he's seen the difference. I think it is being more accepted."
Espinoza admits, "At times in the past, it wasn't that way. Now, I'm starting to see more off it. It's a plus to bring in a strength-and-conditioning coach and I think it's an advantage and if you want to bring out the best in your fighter, you need all those other assets, a strength-and-conditioning coach, a good trainer and a good fighter."
Molina’s trainer, Medina, is happy that he's settled in as a lightweight. "At 135, he's a good fighter. Not 140."
Perhaps the biggest lesson that Flores has imparted on his client is that these aren't just habits that are changed or altered but a lifestyle.
"I talked to him about this," said Flores. "It has to be year-round. You look at guys like Hopkins and Roy Jones; they're in shape year-round. They're always doing something."
But in today's game, boxers simply don't fight nearly as much as they used to. This creates a preponderance of downtime, where fighters tend to put on poundage. In many respects, this is the biggest battle faced by today's contemporary prizefighters.
"I think it is," agreed Molina. "I think that has a lot to do with it. If you're out the whole time and you come back five, six weeks before the fight, it's going to be a lot of work. So I think you have to maintain. I think that's the key."
A boxer may only have three to five fights a year (even less at the world-class level, nowadays) but he’ll call himself a professional boxer 365 days a year, which means making sacrifices on an almost daily basis of varying degrees.
"That's one of the things Rene told me, 'Y' know what? You're not a part-time athlete. You're a year-round athlete. So you gotta be in shape all the time.'"
Fighters may have long layoffs but that doesn't necessarily mean they should have long off-seasons.
"I believe so," agreed Molina. "You look at NBA players, they're always in shape. I think we gotta follow that also."
Molina was supposed to face Rodela, till the veteran was scratched late last week.
"It was very disappointing. What we heard is that David and his mother had an auto accident. We were looking forward to that fight; I think it was a good fight for both guys," said Espinoza, "but we still want to do that fight. Hopefully, we can get that fight for Carlos in the early part of next year. I think the fans would like this fight. It's some unfinished business. We're looking forward to it, still."
Also, Orozco, an 8-0 junior welterweight, was pulled from the card, due to an injury he suffered while sparring.
"Antonio was looking very sharp. He was working with Freddie Hernandez; he was working with Carlos," said Espinoza. "He was looking good in the gym. Unfortunately, injuries do happen in boxing and during a sparring session, he got hit in the back. But no broken ribs, thank God. We took him to a doctor; we got him X-rayed. So he just has some inflammation and swelling. He just needs time to recuperate. There was no way we could bring him back and put him into this fight. It would've been too soon. He's supposed to take three to four weeks off and come back."
So will we see a third season of the “Fight Night Club” in 2011?
"Yes," stated Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, "actually, we are in the process of locking in the dates for next year. Like last year, December and January are off months and then we'll be back in February with 'Fight Night Club.' So we're very excited to continue with the series. We actually had a meeting with Fox [Sports Net]; they are very excited with the series; they are very happy with the ratings and they are talking to us about getting national clearance on all of their platforms."
And this series could be expanding from their Los Angeles base in the near future.
"I think [we’re] executing a multi-year relationship in New York with the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, which is going to be opening in the spring of 2012. We might, on the East Coast, wait until then to really do that or do something at the Club Nokia on Broadway. Which we've had conversations with our partners, which are the same owners as Club Nokia, here, which is AEG. So we'll see. We don't want to rush anything. We want to make sure we have the right talent and that we have the right venue deal, as well. Then we'll move forward but we're not really in a big rush."
But they could also be expanding to outside of the United States.
"As it relates to the overseas, those plans are coming along," said Schaefer. "There's a lot of work involved from venues, sponsors, fighters, working with other promoters, television, etc. London seems to be on the forefront there. We have located the venue; we have put together a deal structure with the venue. Now, we are going to be talking to our promotional partners, Hatton Promotions and Hayemaker [Promotions], to be working with them. And we're going to have some conversations with the TV [networks]. Sky is locked in next year with promoters. They have pretty much given out all of their dates. So, together with AEG, who owns that venue there, it's called the 'Club Indigo,' which is interesting. It's an exact replica- and I say an exact replica- it looks exactly like Club Nokia. It was built and modeled 100-percent exactly like Club Nokia. If you were standing there, you wouldn't know where you are, in London or in L.A.
"So now, what is holding us up in England is television and we'll see how we can solve that."
Schaefer told Maxboxing of a new television deal he has just struck.
"I'm going down to Mexico City; Oscar [De La Hoya] is going to be coming along, as well, and we are going to announce a new monthly show from Mexico with the largest Mexican broadcaster, Televisa. Televisa is free, over-the-air, like NBC, CBS and ABC combined. That's the market share they have. They are the big giant there. They are the ones who really built [Saul] 'Canelo' Alvarez and so we are going to be announcing a monthly show from Mexico."
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