Carlos Molina has more to worry about than losing a chance to retain his title. His freedom and his chances of remaining in the United States are at stake.
On Friday, the IBF junior middleweight champion remained incarcerated in the Clark County Detention Center after immigration officials discovered that Molina had been deported in 2006 and re-entered the country illegally. Molina, who is 22-5-2 with six knockouts, was scheduled to defend his title Saturday against Jermall Charlo at the MGM Grand Garden on the undercard of the Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo main event.
The Molina-Charlo fight was canceled Friday morning after an unsuccessful attempt to resolve Molina’s legal issues in time for him to make the afternoon weigh-in.
“It’s a mess,” said Leon Margules, Molina’s promoter. “He was going to be released, but then they re-held him after finding out that he had been in the country illegally.”
In a statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said of Molina’s status: “ICE placed a detainer on Mr. Molina following his arrest by local authorities. He was previously removed from the U.S. in 2006 per an order by an immigration judge. Once remanded to ICE custody, Mr. Molina’s case will be processed according to applicable law and standard agency procedures.”
According to Margules, Molina, 30, who was born in Patzcuaro, Mexico, was at one time a permanent resident of the United States. However, an incident 13 years ago ultimately changed his status.
Molina was charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child in 2001 and was convicted the next year, records show. Molina, then 18, was accused of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Outagamie County, Wisc., according to an arrest report obtained Friday by the Review-Journal. The girl told police she was at her home with a friend when her friend invited her boyfriend, a man identified in the report as Jaime, to the victim’s home. Molina, who didn’t know either of the girls, accompanied Jaime, the report said.
Molina later began kissing the victim, who told police she initially wanted nothing to do with Molina. But the victim’s friend “wanted her to go along with kissing Carlos so that Carlos would not leave,” the report said. The victim and Molina later had sex, which Molina told police lasted about 40 minutes.
“(The victim) stated that she did not really want to have sexual intercourse with Carlos, but just went along with it anyway,” the report said.
He was sentenced to 3½ years in prison and served one year, with the remainder of the sentence suspended on condition of probation, records show. Molina was ordered not to drink alcohol or use drugs, to receive counseling, register as a sex offender, and to stay away from gang members or women under 18.
He failed to register with Wisconsin authorities as a sex offender in 2006, and a warrant was issued for his arrest the following year.
He was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon after he arrived at the MGM to help promote Saturday’s fight with Charlo.
Margules had worked out a deal with Wisconsin authorities on Thursday to have Molina appear and register.
However, because of his sex offender status, immigration officials had revoked his permanent resident’s status and deported him in 2006. According to Margules, Molina sneaked back into the country and settled in Chicago. He has fought 19 times since — all in the U.S. — in eight different states. Yet it took authorities eight years to catch up with Molina. Perhaps the fact Molina drove instead of flew to his various destinations for his fights may have helped him elude authorities since any attempt to board a flight would undoubtedly trigger a red flag among TSA and airline officials and he would have likely been apprehended immediately.
“It’s all very puzzling; it’s weird,” Margules said, adding he didn’t know about Molina’s immigration problems and criminal background prior to Tuesday’s arrest.
Molina, who won the title Sept. 14 in a 12-round split decision over Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith, was scheduled to make $275,000 Saturday. Charlo, who was to receive $100,000, will still be paid despite not having to fight. Showtime, which was scheduled to show the Molina-Charlo fight as part of its pay per view telecast, will now televise the 10-round lightweight bout between Ricardo Alvarez and Sergio Thompson in place of Molina-Charlo.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at 702-387-2913 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.