ESPN buys Molina-Bundrage rights

Carlos Molina, right, defends his junior middleweight belt in Cancun against Cornelius Bundrage. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

When Carlos Molina makes the first defense of his junior middleweight world title against mandatory challenger (and former titleholder) Cornelius “K9” Bundrage on Saturday night in Cancun, Mexico, American fans can watch the fight on ESPN Deportes thanks to a deal the network made with Molina promoter Leon Margules for the U.S. broadcast rights.

ESPN Deportes will carry the fight live from the Grand Oasis Cancun resort with undercard coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET, according to the network. The ESPN Deportes telecast will be in Spanish, but those interested in an English-language broadcast can watch a live stream of the bout on ESPN3.com. The ESPN3.com stream will simulcast the broadcast from BoxNation in the United Kingdom.

“I’m glad that ESPN is giving us the opportunity to see Carlos’ fight in the United States,” Margules said. “We sold the fight all over the world, but the one place we hadn’t sold it was in the United States until we made a deal with ESPN [a few days ago]. I’m glad they picked it up.”

The fight is taking place in Molina’s native Mexico because the longtime Chicago resident was deported after it was discovered in March that he was in the United States illegally.

Molina (22-5-2, 6 KOs), 31, hasn’t fought since winning the belt by split decision against Ishe Smith in September 2013. He was due to make his first defense against Jermall Charlo this past March 8 in Las Vegas on the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo Showtime PPV undercard. However, the fight was canceled a few days beforehand after Molina was jailed in Las Vegas on an outstanding warrant for failing to register as a sex offender for a past conviction. While he was in custody, it was discovered that he was in the United States illegally, and he was eventually deported to Mexico. With the mandatory due and Molina not allowed in the United States, Margules made a deal with Bundrage, a promotional free agent, to fight him in Mexico.

Bundrage (33-5, 19 KOs), 41, of Detroit, won the belt from Cory Spinks by fifth-round knockout in 2010 and made two successful defenses before losing it to Smith by majority decision in February 2013. Smith then lost the title to Molina in his first defense. Bundrage easily outpointed Joey Hernandez on Jan. 24 in a title eliminator to become Molina’s mandatory challenger.

In the co-feature, junior lightweight Rene Alvarado (20-3, 14 KOs), 25, of Nicaragua, faces Juan Pablo Sanchez (29-11, 13 KOs), 26, of Mexico, in a 10-rounder.