Ruiz & Molina Both Looking for Same Feat
December 10th will be a huge day in the world of combat sports, as the UFC and Bellator host major events, as does GLORY kickboxing. Not to mention, there are several big championship bouts on tab for Saturday.
And in two of those bouts, two fighters in two different places on the planet, will be looking to achieve the same feat in the same day. Andy Ruiz Jr. will fight Joseph Parker in a battle of undefeated heavyweight contenders for the vacant WBO heavyweight championship in Auckland, New Zealand. Meanwhile, Eric Molina challenges Anthony Joshua for the IBF heavyweight title in Manchester, England. Both Ruiz and Molina are looking for wins to become the first fighter, or fighters should they both win, of Mexican descent to win a boxing world heavyweight championship.
Ruiz, who is undefeated with a record of 29-0 and 19 knockouts, is a favorite against Parker, despite the two fighting in Parker’s home country of New Zealand. At the final press conference with the two fighters, however, Ruiz said he often feels overlooked and that there are still many doubters of him.
Speaking to media in New Zealand earlier this week, Ruiz said he wouldn’t let this stand in his way towards history.
"There has never been a Mexican heavyweight champion of the world and, God willing, I’m going to be the first one. I’m going to accomplish my dreams," Ruiz said. "Parker is a good fighter — big, with speed just like me. We both have the same advantage except he’s a little bit taller. We sparred two or three years ago so he knows a little something about me and I know a little something about him. The fight could go either way.
"I see in my head that it’s a life or death fight. I’m going to die trying to get that belt, and God willing on my side, we’re going to get it."
Meanwhile, this isn’t Molina’s first attempt at making this kind of history. In June 2015, he could have had this historical achievement with a WBC heavyweight title win over Deontay Wilder; however, Molina was knocked out in the ninth round of their fight.
Molina feels this could be the last chance he has to become a world boxing champion.
"This is my second world title shot, my third major fight in 18 months, and I’ll be the first Mexican-American heavyweight champ in history if I win," Molina told ESPN. "I’m coming into this fight like this is it for me. This is my last shot. I’m ready to fight with everything I have. I love these big, big fights. They don’t scare me. There is no fear in me."
Since the loss, Molina has bounced back with wins over Rodricka Ray and Tomasz Adamek. Now, he faces a heavy task in facing Joshua, who is 17-0 and has won every one of his bouts via knockout. Despite coming in as the underdog, Molina will not be deterred.
"I feel great about this fight. These are the kinds of fights I want to be in," he said. "Before I fought Wilder, I had 35 days to train. For this, I’ve had about five weeks. We feel this gives us plenty of time to fix what we have to fix in training.
"The magnitude of this fight is everything. I put everything in. But I know I have to stay focused and relaxed."