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Heavyweight prospect Simon Kean faces former title challenger Eric Molina on Thursday

Simon Kean (right) vs. Adam Braidwood.
Fighters Network

Big-punching Simon Kean will step into the ring against former two-time heavyweight title challenger Eric Molina at the Montreal Casino, Montreal on Thursday.

Kean welcomes the opportunity to face someone of Molina’s standing in the division.

“It’s a good challenge for me, he’s a good fighter,” Kean (22-1, 21 knockouts) told The Ring. “He’s fought with people better than me. I did a really good training camp, I worked hard and I’m ready to take the challenge.”

It will also snap a difficult period in Kean’s career. The 34-year-old beat Newfel Ouatah last September, however, it wasn’t a conventional win. The Frenchman dropped to one knee at the sound of the opening bell and refused to fight. Kean was later awarded the win after the fight was initially declared a no-contest. Then a back injury meant the proposed fight with Molina was postponed from December until now.

“Yeah, I fought last February with [Shawndell Terrell] Winters, it was not my best fight,” he said. “He put me down and I got up and stopped him [in Round 9.] It has been a long-time since I fought.”

Camille Estephan of Eye of The Tiger, who promote Kean, says his fighter has been a victim of circumstances.

“Simon has been inactive, not because we didn’t try,” said Estephan. “Simon is a very special fighter, people look at him and say, ‘He’s not a Sugar Ray Leonard.’ No, he’s not. His strengths are so strong, he has nuclear power, he can stop anyone, is so strong, he can win a fight against any heavyweight. It’s just a matter of making sure he’s active, developed and not injured.”

Estephan also revealed he had been in talks to match Kean with 2016 Olympic gold medalist Tony Yoka.

“We were very disappointed with Yoka because I thought I had a deal with the promoter and then I guess TV preferred Takam, two French fighters fighting each other,” he said before turning his attention to who his fighter will have in front of Kean next.

“Molina is a very dangerous situation; he has a very good right hand that Simon has to be weary of and Simon’s right hand is the one that does all the damage as well. He does have other tools. There guys who look alike in their styles, so there’s going to be fireworks. 

“If he can make a statement with Molina, I think we’ll be there for big fights. I think a call could come from any of the champions. The division is so interesting, we want the big fights.”

And that is what Kean is looking for if he can turn back Molina.

“I just want to win, stay focused on the game plan on what I have to do,” he said. “We have a deal with Top Rank, with ESPN, maybe after this it will be time for a fight on there.”

When Molina has stepped up, he’s lost and this figures to be no different. However, as pointed out both men have power so it could be interesting if Molina can land something of his own. That said I expect Kean to land his power-punch first and score a knockout within three or four rounds.

Molina (29-8, 21 KOs) turned professional on the undercard of Marco Antonio Barrera-Juan Manuel Marquez in March 2007. He was knocked out in one-round by a fellow debutant. Little was expected of the Texan then but to his credit he reeled off 18 wins over the next five-years before losing to Chris Arreola (KO 1). Five wins followed including one over once-touted DaVarryl Williamson (TKO 5) and unsuccessfully challenged then WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (KO 9). 

After beating former two-weight world champion Tomasz Adamek (KO 10), he received a second world title shot. This time he was stopped in three-rounds by then IBF titlist Anthony Joshua. Since then, the school teachers form has become patchy going 4-4, though it should be noted he has shared a ring in losing efforts with Dominic Breazeale (RTD 8) and Filip Hrgovic (KO 3). 

Mbilli-Gongora, plus undercard bouts will be streamed on ESPN+ starting at 7:00 p.m. ET/ 4:00 p.m. PT.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on