Amir Khan stops Carlos Molina in comeback fight
Amir Khan stops Carlos Molina in comeback fight
Khan (27-3, 19 KOs) used superior speed and power to batter the overmatched American in every round. Molina (17-1-1, 7 KOs) began bleeding from cuts in the middle rounds, and referee Jack Reiss stopped the bout on the advice of Molina’s corner before the 11th.
Khan celebrated with new trainer Virgil Hunter, who replaced Freddie Roach in Khan’s corner after losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, who stopped the former light welterweight titleholder in July.
“I stuck to my game plan, which meant sticking to my jab,” Khan said. “Carlos took some really good shots, and he was still coming forward, and that’s when I thought to myself, ‘I’d better stick to this game plan.’“
Khan won every round on every judge’s scorecard while landing 312 of his 679 punches, including 56 percent of his power shots. Molina connected with only 87 total punches in 10 rounds.
Khan clearly was quicker and more physically imposing than his opponent from the opening bell, reddening Molina’s face and pushing him back with shots too swift to dodge. Molina landed a few clean punches in the opening rounds, but they weren’t fierce enough to test Khan’s much-questioned chin.
Khan cut Molina near his right eye while unleashing multiple combinations in the fourth round. Molina wasn’t mobile enough to fight at Khan’s pace and level, and Khan steadily wore down his opponent until the finish.
Hunter, the mastermind of Andre Ward’s career, has worked to instill a more thoughtful approach in Khan, saying the former British Olympic star had never been taught how to box. While Khan said he would still be an exciting fighter, he aimed to avoid brawls in favor of a complete game plan.
That plan was in evidence in every round against Molina, with Khan resisting the urge to brawl whenever Molina presented the opportunity.
“Virgil is a great trainer, and I’m getting better at boxing and at being a complete fighter,” Khan said. “He’s teaching me boxing, speed, patience, and picking the right shot and when to throw it. Sometimes I’m too brave for my own good, but now I know it’s better to stick to the game plan.”
Molina was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, and the little-known fighter was the hometown crowd’s favorite — but a vocal section of British and Pakistani fans was much happier to see the new-look Khan’s workmanlike, smart performance after his recent setbacks.
Garcia floored Khan three times on the way to a fourth-round stoppage five months ago, claiming Khan’s WBC and WBA light welter belts.
On the undercard, Mexican Leo Santa Cruz defended his IBF bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over compatriot Alberto Guevara.
Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall
- Saudi Arabia play Italy on May 28
- Balotelli set to play for the Azzurri for the first time in four years
TURIN: New Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday recalled Nice striker Mario Balotelli to the Azzurri fold for three upcoming friendlies as he begins the job of reviving Italian fortunes.
Mancini was appointed last Monday, six months after Gian Piero Ventura was sacked following the four-time world champions’ failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The 53-year-old, who left Zenit Saint Petersburg to take the job, unveiled his first 30-man squad for matches against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands.
Mancini takes charge of his first game against the Green Falcons in St. Gallen, Switzerland on May 28.
As expected, the 27-year-old Balotelli was included for the first time in nearly four years.
Balotelli has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for the Azzurri but has not played international football since Italy’s humiliating group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup.
Balotelli was last called up by coach Antonio Conte in November 2014 but did not play because of injury.
He has now been given another chance by Mancini, who coached him at both Inter Milan and Manchester City.
Balotelli has resurrected his career since joining Nice in 2016 after less successful spells with AC Milan and Liverpool, scoring 26 goals in all competitions this season, without any of the bad-boy behavior that previously dogged his career.
Italy are not spoilt for choice with forward so Balotelli’s success with Nice could not be overlooked by Mancini.
As a youngster, Balotelli was part of the Inter side coached by Jose Mourinho that won the Champions League in 2010.
He also won three Serie A titles with Inter before switching to Manchester City and helping them claim the Premier League crown in 2012.
Meanwhile, Mancini’s squad was without goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon who this week confirmed he would not play again for the national side.
The presence of Buffon — who holds the record for Italy caps with 176 — proved controversial during friendlies in March with his critics wanting him to move over for a younger generation.
In his absence, Mancini has recalled Salvatore Sirigu, who has had a successful season since joining Torino, alongside AC Milan teenager Gianluigi Donnarumma and Genoa’s Mattia Perin.
Among the veterans there was no call-up for Roma captain Daniele De Rossi, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini absent through injury.
The captain’s armband is expected to go to AC Milan center-back Leonardo Bonucci.
Five players have been given a first call-up — Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone midfielder Rolando Mandragora, Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi and Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara.
Along with defenders Alessio Romagnoli and Daniele Rugani, midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and strikers Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi are among the promising youngsters who are expected to put Italy back on the road to victory.
The squad will meet for the first time at the Italian national team’s training camp at Coverciano near Florence on May 23.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino);
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg/RUS), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Emerson Palmieri Dos Santos (Chelsea/ENG), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: Daniele Baselli (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Rolando Mandragora (Crotone), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Nice/FRA), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Simone Zaza (Valencia/ESP)