Christmas came early for lightweight power-broker "Dangerous" Dannie Williams in the form of an ESPN Friday Nights Fight main event showdown on January 11 against John "The Hammer" Molina Jr. (24-2, 19 KOs) in a explosive crossroads fight for both boxers, at Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"I've been waiting to get back into a meaningful fight," Williams said from training camp in Youngstown, Ohio, "so I can get back in the lightweight picture. That's what this fight is all about. I look at this fight like all of my fights as the biggest of my life."
Williams (22-2, 18 KOs) is only two fights removed from a disappointing loss by 10-round decision to Hank Lundy (21-1-1) for the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title, while Molina suffered a devastating first-round knockout in his last fight to World Boxing Council (WBC) 135-pound champion Antonio DeMarco. Both of these fights aired on national television, setting back the fighters' respective careers.
Williams, who was WBC No. 9 rated going into the Lundy fight, has regrouped, winning his most recent fight this past October by way of a seventh-round knockout of Rynell Griffin.
Molina's most significant win, ironically, was an 11th round stoppage of Lundy in 2010 for the North American Boxing Organization (NABO) lightweight title. The previously unbeaten Lundy (18-0-1), who was dropped in the eighth, had a substantial lead on all three judges' scorecards (98-91, 98-91, 97-92) when Molina finished him off in the 11th as the referee halted the fight with Lundy trapped on the ropes and hurt.
"I'm really up for this fight because he's the guy who beat the guy who beat me," Williams noted. "I'm going to show the boxing world that my Lundy fight was a fluke. Molina's last fight was disappointing. I don't think he can take a big punch. It's not like Lundy can hit. DeMarco hit him with some good punches, but I can't wait to see how he reacts when I hit him."
The fight between Williams and Molina, who have combined to knock out 37 opponents in 46 total wins, has the potential to start 2013 off with fireworks. "A loss derails either fighter's career and the winner gets right back in the picture," Williams' head trainer Jack Loew remarked. "With these two guys, no matter what game plan is set, once they get touched, their manhood takes over. They're both warriors, real fighters, and this can be a very exciting fight. Dannie just has to fight for 10 rounds, although this isn't the type fight that figures to go the distance. Against Lundy, we had a great game plan and it worked for two or three rounds. Then, Dannie hit a wall and for whatever reason, he stopped fighting.
"This is a crossroads fight for both fighters. This isn't like being a cat with nine lives. This is the third opportunity Steve's (co-promoter Steve Smith) gotten Dannie on national television, the first against (Eloy) Perez (LDEC10 in 2009), and then Lundy. This fight could mean the difference between ever getting a world title shot or not. I've let Dannie know what this fight means and the pressure is on him to win. Dannie has to be professional and go into this fight in a better mind set than he did against Lundy. He can't dance around and box. He has to come forward and be aggressive. Dannie Williams is always going to be a power puncher."
"Dangerous" Dannie Williams (L)
(photo by Bob Barton)
Co-Promoted by Rumble Time Promotions (President Steve Smith) and DiBella Entertainment, the 28-year-old Williams has overcome numerous obstacles growing up in the Peabody Projects in Saint Louis, Missouri. He showcased his potential as an amateur, capturing a gold medal in the 2004 National Golden Gloves Tournament, and defeating undefeated, former World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight champion Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios.
"What I know for sure is that Dannie will fight the fight of his life and come out with a big win in dramatic fashion," Smith added. "I do want to thank Doug Loughrey (boxing programming director), of ESPN, for keeping this fight together. ESPN fans are going to love the non-stop action, as long as it lasts. Dannie just had an off night against Lundy. Dannie Williams is a beast with power in both hands and good boxing skills, too."