Cornelius “K9” Bundrage scored two knockdowns and rolled to a clear, unanimous decision victory against Carlos Molina to regain a version of the junior middleweight world title on Saturday night at the Grand Oasis resort in Cancun, Mexico.
Bundrage got off to a strong start and wobbled Molina early in the first round before knocking him down with a clean right hand on the chin later in the frame. Bundrage maintained control the rest of the way, and the judges rewarded him with winning scores of 117-106, 116-109 and 115-110. ESPN.com also scored the fight in Bundrage’s favor, 115-111.
Bundrage continued to work Molina over in the second round and nearly dropped him again near the ropes. Molina appeared to eke out the third and fourth rounds, but Bundrage, who was the harder puncher, was soon back in command. He caught Molina with several solid, overhand rights and also landed to the body.
In the eighth round, Bundrage once again had Molina in some trouble. Molina was on the ropes, and Bundrage was nailing him to the body, but when they were in a clinch and Bundrage landed a shot behind Molina’s head, referee Kenny Chevalier took a point from Bundrage.
Bundrage (34-5, 19 KOs) rocked Molina (22-6-2, 6 KOs) with an uppercut in the 10th round and had him pinned on the ropes as he banged away. He landed a powerful right hand that staggered Molina and then, moments later, landed another right hand that dropped Molina for the second time in the fight and seemed to salt away the points victory.
Molina, 31, a longtime Chicago resident from Mexico, was making the first defense of his 154-pound title, but it was coming after a long layoff. Molina had not fought since he won the title 13 months ago on a split decision against Ishe Smith on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard in Las Vegas.
Molina had been due to make his first defense against undefeated Jermall Charlo on the Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo undercard March 8 in Las Vegas. However, Molina was arrested in Vegas a few days before the fight on an outstanding warrant for failing to register as a sex offender in Wisconsin in a case from years ago, and the fight was canceled. While Molina was incarcerated, police discovered he was in the United States illegally, and he was eventually deported to Mexico.
Unable to fight in the United States and with the mandatory defense due, Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, who represents Molina, made a deal with promotional free agent Bundrage, 41, of Detroit, to fight Molina in Mexico.
Bundrage, a former participant on “The Contender” reality series, initially won the belt from Cory Spinks by fifth-round knockout in 2010 and made two successful defenses before he lost it to Smith by majority decision in February 2013. Smith then lost the title to Molina in his first defense.
Bundrage earned a second shot at the belt when he easily outpointed Joey Hernandez on Jan. 24 in a title eliminator to become Molina’s mandatory challenger.