Molitor Retains His Title in an Impressive Boxing Display
By Rose Hunter at ringside (Jan 21, 2008) Doghouse Boxing  
Ostrich meat, blue-green algae, and sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to simulate the effects of altitude – these are three of the more unusual items that are part of Steve Molitor’s training regimen.

Sounds unpleasant to me, but you can’t argue with the results.

On January 19, at Casino Rama in Ontario, ‘The Canadian Kid’, now 26-0 (10), made his third successful defence of his
IBF junior featherweight belt, in winning a unanimous decision over the tough Ricardo Castillo, now 33-5 (22).

Although the Mexican Castillo has two recent losses on his record, he is a much better fighter than that statistic might suggest. One of those losses was to the talented Panamanian Celestino Caballero, now 28-2 (19), after his older brother Jose Luis stepped in, somewhat controversially, to stop the action; and the other was to Takalani Ndlovu, who Molitor stopped in the ninth round in his first title defence at Casino Rama last year. In December 2006 Castillo fought Ndlovu to a close decision, which many, Molitor among them, believe that Castillo should have been awarded.

The first round got off to a cautious start, with both fighters waiting for the other to commit, prompting one member of the audience to take issue. “Beat him like I beat my wife!” he screamed, which has got to be one of the more charming calls to action I’ve heard. And they say Canadians are a reserved and polite lot…

Round two saw the action pick up, with Castillo scoring to the body, and the southpaw Molitor with his straight left.
Castillo was on the attack again early in round three, while Molitor went to work establishing what was to become his signature move of the fight; spinning Castillo around and following up with a short left while Castillo was still wondering where he was. When he recovered, Castillo replied by connecting with several body shots, one of which was on the low side. Molitor did well with quick combinations, and got the challenger flush with another straight left. These were close rounds, but Molitor had the edge, in terms of controlling the action, and connect percentage.

In round four a cut opened up above Molitor’s eye, which the referee ruled was caused by a punch (Molitor thought otherwise). A cameraperson was plunked directly in front of my eyeballs and the action at that point, so I couldn’t tell. At least that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. Castillo had Molitor in trouble against the ropes, and half way through the round caught him with the best punch of the fight so far – a straight right – and proceeded to follow it up with another one, almost as good. This was a Castillo round.

He continued this momentum into round five, winning the early part of it, but the latter part belonged to Molitor, especially as he responded to trainer Chris Johnson’s shouts, to keep turning Castillo.

Rounds six through eight were close, with both fighters connecting: Castillo with his straight right, opening up what turned out to be a different cut, above the same eye of Molitor. In round nine the blood continued to flow from this wound, although it had no discernible effect on his performance, as he pulled away from Castillo, who, due to Molitor’s boxing skills and tight defence, was increasing finding only air with his punches. In round ten Castillo was deducted a point for a low blow, without having received a prior warning from the referee. To add to his woes in this round, he also sustained a cut, above his right eye.

Even though Molitor’s trainer was confirming his belief that he was ahead on the scorecards, Molitor came out with the full arsenal in round eleven, dominating Castillo with his jab and straight lefts. Twice in this round, he had the Mexican in trouble against the ropes, and he didn’t let up in the twelfth.

All three judges scored the fight 118-109 for Molitor, which, allowing for the point deduction, had Castillo winning only two rounds. Although the decision was not in doubt, I thought Molitor won by a slightly narrower margin.

It was an impressive performance against a gutsy and determined challenger, and the crowd at Casino Rama cheered their local hero. Molitor draws a vocal and loyal audience here, in a province that, before his emergence, had long been starved of major boxing events. He plans to make his fourth consecutive title defence at Rama in April, against a mandatory challenger, possibly the Mexican southpaw Fernando Beltran Jr., 30-2-1 (18). After that, all going according to plan, he mentioned either Caballero, or the hard-hitting Mexican Daniel Ponce de Leon as fights he would like, looking ahead to a possible title unification bout.

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