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Up Close and Personal with IBF Super Bantamweight Champion Steve “The Canadian Kid” Molitor

Interview by Mike “Rubber Warrior” Plunkett

“I want whatever fight brings me the most money.” – Steve Molitor

Having watched a couple of celebrated former Olympians shoulder the attention and high expectation of their country back in the 80’s, I recall feeling a sense of despair. Not only did I feel that something was missing from the mix, the local media had essentially backed them into a corner. A mere misstep was all it took for their country to turn its back and move on. In the decades since Canada has regrouped and the fight game has taken on a whole new dimension. Not only do we have the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions covered, we’ve had the super bantamweight division all but locked-up for over four years now.

I first took note of Steve Molitor almost a decade ago when he stopped Scotty “The Bulldog” Olson. I remember feeling bad as I watched one of Canada’s more popular and beloved fighters thrust forcefully into retirement, but at the same time recall feeling excited at the level of talent and hunger displayed by “The Canadian Kid”. In the years since Molitor did what so many had called and hoped for from names such as DeWitt and O’Sullivan, ghosts of a bygone era; win a major world title. Since putting Canada back on the map, he’s proven to be more than just a flash in the pan, having gambled and experienced the pain of crushing defeat, only to rise from the ashes to once again savor the sweet smell of rare and extraordinary success. For me it was great opportunity to sit down and chat with “The Canadian Kid” to discuss the journey that saw him to two major world titles and his goals and aspirations moving forward into the future.

MP: You began boxing at age nine and went on to have an extensive and successful amateur career, along the way winning five national titles at 112lbs. What made you want to start boxing?

My older brother had started a year previous to me and he won his first Canadian title after a year, and I just wanted to be like my older brother. I just followed in his footsteps and wanted to do everything he did. I just followed him to the gym.

MP: You won your first notable professional title in February 2002, beating the celebrated Scotty Olson for the Canadian super bantamweight title. What are your recollections of that win and of Olson as an opponent?

You know, Scotty is a great guy. He was such a gentleman and an honorable man outside of the ring. Inside the ring he was a legend, and at the time he was undefeated fighting in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. It was a big step up for me. It was my first nationally televised fight on The Score, for the Canadian super bantamweight title. I was very green as a professional with only eight or nine bouts. It was a little nerve racking going to his hometown to face such a legend but you know, I trained hard and I ended up stopping him in the 5thround. It was a great win for me and a big confidence booster at that point in my career.

MP: Your next professional titles came later that year when you defeated Englishman Nicky Booth by unanimous decision for the Commonwealth bantamweight championship. After that you won the vacant NABA bantamweight title in April 2004 with a comprehensive decision over Hugo Dianzo at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. By this point did you feel that winning a major world title was in your future?

Without a doubt, you know that was the main goal since I turned professional, even since I started boxing, it was to go pro and win a world title. It just seemed to become more and more of a reality as my career went on. I went to Scotty Olson’s hometown and beat him in front of his people. I went to Nicky Booth’s hometown and beat him in front of his people. You know, I beat Hugo Dianzo who was a veteran of the sport and who had a lot of good names under his belt, and I beat him handedly, so it just became more of a reality as my career went on.

MP: In November 2006 you stopped Michael Hunter in the 5thround to win the vacant IBF super bantamweight title. How did it feel to accomplish the goal of becoming a major world champion?

Oh, it was just unbelievable and almost indescribable. I was in such hostile territory in his hometown in England and he was undefeated, and they thought he was just going to walk away with the title without a doubt. But we went into the lion’s den and came out as a champion. I was just so happy and it was such a weight off of my shoulders to finally reach my goal.

MP: You won that title in England over one of their own. Were you at all intimidated going into it and how were you treated subsequent to the win?

I wasn’t nervous going into it whatsoever. I know that once the bell rings it was only me and Michael Hunter in the ring. Sure, it was the loudest crowd that I had ever fought in front of, to date even, but I wasn’t intimidated. They (the crowd) were a little upset after I had beaten their man but my crew took me out the back door and got me to my hotel nice and quick and quietly. We weren’t around there celebrating, trying to talk to people, because they weren’t too happy.

MP: As champion you kept a busy schedule defending your title five times in less than two years, turning back notable contenders Fernando Beltran JR, Ricardo Castillo and undefeated Ceferino Dario Labarda along the way. Did your success present opportunities that were previously not available to you and did it affect how people treated you?

A lot of people treated me differently in that I was a lot more recognized, you know, walking the streets or in a mall, or having dinner out with my family. I got a few free meals here and there and there were a few promotional opportunities that were given to me; even to this day I have a car sponsor that gave me a free vehicle, Newmarket Infinity gave me a free vehicle for me and my family to drive on top of the one we have. There are always opportunities when you become the elite as a world champion.

MP: In November 2008 you met the dangerous and much avoided WBA Super World super bantamweight champion Celestino Caballero in a much anticipated unification match. What happened?

No excuses, the man fought a great fight and he won. He’s the unified champion and he’s still one of the most avoided and dangerous fighters out there but people who know me know that wasn’t Steve Molitor who showed up on November 21st 2008. Not taking anything away from his performance but you know, he didn’t fight the best Steve Molitor that night, and that’s a guarantee.

MP: Looking back, what would you have done differently?

I wasn’t there mentally for that fight. So many things were different. I had a new trainer. It was only my second fight working with Stephan Larouche so we were in the midst of changing things. I didn’t feel as comfortable as I would have liked to feel and it was just totally different. I was training in Montreal, my wife was eight months pregnant at the time as I was living in Montreal and she was here in Toronto. There were a lot of little distractions that mentally, when that bell rang, my head wasn’t in the fight, to be honest.

MP: You returned in June 2009 and appeared to struggle early before winning a split decision over Heriberto Ruiz. My feeling was that you regained your stride later in that bout. Did you have doubts going into the comeback and how did it feel to pull out the win despite lingering doubt?

I definitely had some doubts. I had just come off a devastating loss to a great champion and to be thrown right back in to a mandatory position, a #2 position with the IBF, a lot of guys when they suffer a loss like that first have two or three easy fights to regain their confidence, and I got thrown right back in there with a top guy. Ruiz had just won a fight against another good fighter, so I was thrown back in tough and it took me a while to get my bearings but once I did it was no problem.

MP: You did something extraordinary when you again became a world champion, regaining the IBF super bantamweight title earlier this past March against Takalani Ndlovu of South Africa. What ran through your mind after the win?

Just that you know, I was back. Steve Molitor was back. I was back with my old trainer, Chris Johnson, the trainer that I felt comfortable with and that I feel best with. We were back and we had a great training camp and to be honest, I didn’t fight my best that night, I was still regaining my confidence. My defense was amazing that night but I wasn’t pulling the trigger as much as we did in camp or as much as Chris wanted me to. I wasn’t as offensive or as dominant as we wanted to be. I’ve regained that and even a little bit more as in my last fight in England against Jason Booth, letting my hands go a little bit more and in each fight we’re just getting closer to the Steve Molitor of old.

MP: What’s next for “The Canadian Kid”? Is there a particular opponent you would like to face?

I want whatever fight brings me the most money but I have a mandatory challenger in Takalani Ndlovu, once again, who is the current mandatory challenger for my IBF title. We have to face him next. We’re looking to find a home for that fight and my promotional team, Top Rank Boxing and my manager Cameron Dunkin are working on that as we speak.

MP: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Thank you so much for all of the support through the good times and the bad. I appreciate it and I truly love it and I fight for you guys.

Steve Molitor
Nickname: “The Canadian Kid”
Division: Super Bantamweight
Professional Record: 33-1, 12 KO’s

Date Opponent W-L-D Location Result

2000-05-18 Julio Luna 15-12-2 Winnipeg, CA W UD 8
2000-07-29 Mark McQueen 1-0-0 Detroit, US W TKO 3
2000-08-16 Thierry Naulleau 0-0-0 Montreal, CA W TKO 2
2000-09-08 Joel Lopez 1-1-0 Montreal, CA W UD 4
2000-09-28 Shane Langford 0-0-0 Winnipeg, CA W UD 6
2000-11-03 Jason Adams 1-0-1 Montreal, CA W UD 4
2000-12-15 Steve Trumble 9-9-0 Montreal, CA W UD 6

2001-01-19 Shane Langford 0-1-0 Toronto, CA W UD 4
2001-04-04 Silvio Luzon 12-6-0 Toronto, CA W UD 12

2002-02-15 Scotty Olson 34-3-2 Edmonton, CA W TKO 5
Canada Super Bantamweight Title
2002-04-10 Teofilo Manzueta 13-4-1 Toronto, CA W KO 3
vacant World Boxing Federation Bantamweight Title
2002-06-21 Jose de Jesus Lopez 18-4-0 Mississauga, CA W UD 10
World Boxing Federation Bantamweight Title
2002-09-21 Nicky Booth 15-3-1 Brentwood, UK W PTS 12
Commonwealth (British Empire) Bantamweight Title

2003-03-07 Vicente Luis Burgo 16-15-4 Niagara Falls, CA W TKO 4
2003-04-25 Julio Coronel 21-18-1 Albuquerque, US W UD 10
2003-09-17 Fausto Rosario 11-8-0 London, CA W TKO 10

2004-01-16 John Mackay 7-3-0 Bradford, UK W PTS 8
2004-04-21 Hugo Dianzo 29-10-1 Toronto, CA W UD 12
vacant NABA Bantamweight Title
2004-06-25 Pedro Javier Torres 37-19-9 Sarnia, CA W UD 10

2005-02-18 Henry Arjona 15-5-1 Toronto, CA W UD 8
2005-08-19 Debind Thapa 20-3-1 Whippany, US W TKO 8
2005-10-21 Jorge Antonio Paredes 19-9-3 Toronto, CA W TKO 3

2006-11-10 Michael Hunter 26-0-1 Hartlepool, UK W KO 5
vacant IBF Super Bantamweight Title

2007-07-14 Takalani Ndlovu 27-3-0 Rama, CA W TKO 9
IBF Super Bantamweight Title
2007-10-27 Fahsan 3K Battery 58-8-1 Rama, CA W UD 12
IBF Super Bantamweight Title

2008-01-19 Ricardo Castillo 34-4-0 Rama, CA W UD 12
IBF Super Bantamweight Title
2008-04-05 Fernando Beltran Jr 30-2-1 Rama, CA W UD 12
IBF Super Bantamweight Title
2008-08-29 Ceferino Dario Labarda 18-0-0 Rama, CA W TKO 10
IBF Super Bantamweight Title
2008-11-21 Celestino Caballero 30-2-0 Rama, CA L TKO 4
IBF Super Bantamweight Title
WBA Super World Super Bantamweight Title

2009-06-26 Heriberto Ruiz 41-7-2 Rama, CA W SD 12
2009-09-04 Feliciano Dario Azuaga Le 76-16-2 Rama, CA W KO 5
2009-11-21 Jose Saez 17-8-4 Rama, CA W UD 8

2010-03-27 Takalani Ndlovu 30-5-0 Rama, CA W UD 12
vacant IBF Super Bantamweight Title
2010-09-11 Jason Booth 35-5-0 Houghton-le-Spring, UK W MD 12
IBF Super Bantamweight Title

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