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Sam Eggington must be wary

Sam Eggington
Mark Robinson
Carlos Molina flies into the Midlands to take on Sam Eggington armed with a lofty sanctioning body ranking, writes Matt Bozeat

MIDLANDS crowd-pleaser Sam Eggington can secure a WBC ranking up at 160lbs with victory over Mexican veteran Carlos Molina in Coventry on Saturday night. Now 37 years old, Molina, who had a spell as IBF super-welterweight titlist, goes into the fight somehow ranked eighth by the WBC.

Channel 5 televise with coverage starting at 10pm.

Promoter Mick Hennessy had hoped the 27-year-old from Smethwick, now living in Stourbridge, would challenge for the European super-welterweight title.

Sergio Garcia turned down a sizeable payday to bring his belt to the Midlands and after Erislandy Lara decided to hang on to the lightly-regarded IBO belt at 154lbs, Hennessy looked elsewhere – and found Molina looking for a fight up at 160lbs.

Eggington (29-7) said: “It’s a good title (vacant WBC Silver) against a big name and he isn’t a massive middleweight.”

Jon Pegg, Eggington’s manager and trainer, hinted his fighter’s future is at 154lbs and judging by Molina’s rather soft appearance recently he could still drop down to the weight where he beat Kermit Cintron, Cory Spinks and Ishe Smith, the latter victory bringing him the IBF title in September, 2013. The belt was lost to 41-year-old Cornelius Bundrage 13 months later.

Sam Eggington
Dan Mullan/Getty Images

More recently, Molina, never stopped in a 37-11-2 career, had a spell of five defeats in six fights, including a points loss to Sunderland’s Josh Kelly in Cardiff in March, 2018, but rather than settle into a role of gatekeeper or journeymen, he instead dropped down several levels and started winning again.

Molina has won his last eight fights – and the last six were on his own shows. He boxed six times last year and has already fought this year, a points win over Edgar Ortega (18-11) in February.

The 100-90 scores on all three cards are a shade misleading. Molina was pushed by an opponent who had lost five of his previous six.

Of course, Molina is no longer the same fighter who was considered unfortunate to draw with Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr and Lara.

The Mexican was known for his high workrate and though he still lets his hands go in combinations, the punches come out slower these days, as is to be expected. In truth, he is flattered by the WBC’s ranking. Asked how he plans to beat Eggington, Molina says he will use his “smarts.” Eggington has had his struggles – on the scorecards at least – with veterans before. Two judges had 36-year-old Paulie Malignaggi (36-7) ahead against him at the O2 Arena four years ago before Eggington found an eighth-round body shot.

The Midlander appeared to be in charge of that fight and even more bizarre was the fact one judge had 40-year-old Ashley Theophane (48-8-1) level on points with him after five rounds last December.

That was a bizarre reading of a fight Eggington appeared to dominate from the opening bell until the sixth-round finish. These interpretations have fuelled the us-against-the-world feelings of Pegg. Because Eggington is an overachiever, Pegg feels the trade have been waiting – perhaps willing even – for his bubble to burst.

Pegg actually feels that after nearly nine years as a pro, Eggington is in his prime. “People talk about all the wars Sam has had,” he said. “But he’s been knocked down once (against Dale Evans) in 36 fights and nobody can have so many wars and only get knocked down once.

“His eye went against Liam Smith and the Tanzanian (Mwakinyo) stopped him on his feet (in September, 2018).”

No question last August’s fight with Ted Cheeseman (15-2-1) was an all-out war. The Board named it their fight of the year, some consolation for Eggington after the narrow decision went the Londoner’s way.

The rematch didn’t materialise and, unhappy with the fights he was offered by Matchroom, Eggington jumped at the chance to join Hennessy and gain exposure on Channel Five.

Eggington is unlikely to disappoint viewers. He’s a front-foot fighter with a big heart who doesn’t trust judges. Molina shares that mistrust and both predict a stoppage.

We fancy Eggington will be made to work for a points win.

Also in Coventry, Kaisee Benjamin (11-1-1), the watchable welterweight from the Eastside gym with a touch of Kell Brook about him, steps up beyond Midlands-title level to face Scottish banger Martin Harkin (13-1) and can win on points over 10 rounds.

Local starlet River Wilson Bent (8-0) is favoured to successfully defend his Midlands Area middleweight title against Derby’s untested George Farrell (5-0). Also on the bill is former British light-heavyweight champion Shakan Pitters (versus Jermaine Springer over eight) and prospects Stephen McKenna, Michael Hennessy Jnr, Idris Virgo, Tommy Welch and Brett McGinty.

The Verdict Molina could crumble if he fights his age but he’s made of exceptionally stern stuff.

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