Mississauga fighter Steve Molitor has fought guys with better records, but his next opponent, the tough Englishman Jason Booth, is likely the most motivated boxer he will ever face.
The 32-year-old Booth is not only out for Molitor’s world IBF super-bantamweight title on Sept. 11, but he’s also out for revenge.
Molitor defeated Booth’s younger brother, Nicky, for the Commonwealth bantamweight title back in Sept. 2002, in Essex, England, the first of the Canadian Kid’s three victories on British soil.
Straight to the point, as usual, Molitor said that he isn’t worried about the so-called revenge factor.
“They can use any motivation that want,” said Molitor on Monday. “It don’t mean s... to me.”
But what inspires Jason Booth even more than his brother’s loss, is the second chance he has been given in life. Booth, who has never been knocked out in 40 pro fights (35-5 15 KOs), is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, who actually gave up boxing for almost two years between 2004 and 2006 because of his battles with the bottle.
“I took time off boxing because I was too drunk,” Booth told the BBC. “No manager would look at me and all the doors were shut. I’d go on these mad binges and spend loads of money.
“(But) I don’t do that any more. I changed when I realized I didn’t want to be where I was. To get through it I went to one of the darkest places and never want to be there again.”
Booth credits boxing with saving his life.
“If I hadn’t had boxing, I’d be dead, the drink would have beaten me,” he said. “I’ve got my kids now, they’re my focus and I think I’ve grown.”
“It’s boxing’s Cinderella story,” said his manager Frank Maloney, best known to Canadian fight fans as Lennox Lewis’ former manager. “Jason had so many upsets, to put his life back together has been superb.”
The word out of England is that Nicky Booth, who retired in 2003, is struggling to stay on the straight and narrow, and that Jason has dedicated the Sept. 11 fight to him.
But Molitor knows all about brothers and their demons.
His older brother Jeremy, a 1998 Commonwealth Games boxing gold medallist, is serving time in prison for stabbing his girlfriend to death in 2002 in Sarnia.
Though he was, of course, horrified by the crime, Steve still loves and supports Jeremy and dedicates his fights to his brother.
Molitor, 32-1 12 KOs, was supposed to defend his title against Jason Booth on
July 23, but that fell through when he suffered a stress fracture in his right shin while training.
But now he’s ready to make the trip back to England for the fourth time in his career to face Booth, at the Rainton Meadows Arena near Sunderland, in the northeast part of the country, and is expecting, and actually hoping for, a raucous pro-Booth crowd.
Perhaps the most significant win of his career came in November, 2006, when he defeated local favorite Michael Hunter for the vacant IBF title in Hartlepool, England, in front of an intimidating crowd at Borough Hall.
“I love fighting in England,” said Molitor, who regained the IBF title in March by earning a decision over South Africa’s Takalani Ndlovu. “When I feel threatened, and I feel my back’s against the wall and these people are going to cheer against me, it just makes me fight that much better. If you had seen my three previous fights in England, they were my best fights,” he said.
Maloney is betting that Molitor’s one-sided loss to Celestino Caballero two years ago has permanently damaged the Sarnia-born champion, and that will give Booth an edge. Molitor did regain the world title against Ndlovu at Casino Rama, but it certainly wasn’t his best performance.
“This is this guy’s last hurrah,” said Molitor of Booth.
“He’s had a roller-coaster lifestyle and I beat his younger brother, so this guy’s going to give it anything he has to win a world title. But I’m working harder than ever, because I know these cats are coming at me. It took me a while to get back in the swing of things after the loss to Caballero, but we’re back to where we were before.”
Molitor and Canadian heavyweight champion Neven Pajkic signed a promotional deal with Rick Smiciklas of Wild Wings Inc. on Monday and will be managed by Misho Jovicevic, Pajkic’s manager, after the Sept. 11 bout.