Molitor perseveres through harshest hurdles

Steve Molitor poses with his World Title belt at a press conference at Second City. Molitor...

Steve Molitor poses with his World Title belt at a press conference at Second City. Molitor announced his first title defence will be at Casino Rama next month. (Toronto Sun/Craig Robertson)

STEVE BUFFERY

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET

Climbing into the ring to face South African fighter Takalani (The Panther) Ndlovu on July 14 at Casino Rama will hardly throw IBF world junior featherweight champion Steve Molitor for a loop.

Molitor has gone through so much to get to the top of the boxing world that the actual fighting part is the least of his challenges these days.

"I've always said pressure does two things," Molitor said yesterday at a media conference to announce his title defence against Ndlovu.

"It bursts pipes or it cuts diamonds. I've been under pressure a lot and my pipes did not burst."

No, they didn't.

But the Toronto-based fighter admitted that there have been times, beginning with his pro debut right until he won the world title last year, when he felt that, perhaps, all the training and sacrifice just wasn't worth it.

From the moment he turned pro on May 18, 2000, a eighth-round unanimous decision over Julio Luna, Molitor has had to fight through a nightmare of obstacles to get to where he is today, the only Canadian professional world champion.

In the early days, Molitor trained under Adrian Teodorescu at the Atlas Gym in Toronto.

Because fights were hard to come by and the purses often minuscule, the Sarnia native also lived at the gym.

"I lived in a rat hole for two years. We used to call it The Cage," Molitor said.

"It was hell. I had no money. I had to get a part-time job as a host at Casey's.

"On the other hand, that was part of growing into a man. You had to suffer. I actually look back at those days now fondly," he added.

He doesn't look back on many other aspects of his career quite as fondly.

It was difficult for a (then) light-hitting, 120-pound southpaw to garner much attention, even though he steadily built up his record to the point where he was ready to challenge for a world title.

And securing a title was equally as challenging.

Three times his management team (manager James Jardine and promoter Allan Tremblay) had a title shot lined up, only to have it fall apart for this reason or that.

But the fourth attempt proved to be a charm as Molitor stunned a hostile crowd at Borough Hall in Hartlepool, England on Nov. 10 2006 by knocking out hometown favourite Michael Hunter in the fifth round with a series of devastating left hooks to win the IBF belt.

Still, winning the belt didn't come without its headaches.

In a matter of days after the Hunter upset, the first in a series of lawsuits was launched, by some supposed ex-trainers and promoters, against Molitor, demanding a piece of the action.

But Jardine, who owns an international transportation firm, said he will not allow any outside distractions impede Molitor's progression as a fighter.

"They think that because he's world champion and I back him through my corporation (U.S. Traffic) that I'll just throw them $5,000 to go away or something. I'm not about to do that," Jardine said.

"I'll spend $100,000 in legal fees before I give any of them five cents."

And then there's Molitor's biggest burden, the incarceration of his brother, Jeremy Molitor, who is serving a life term in a Kingston penitentiary for murdering his girlfriend, Jessica Nethery, in 2002 back in Sarnia.

DARK CLOUD

The crime devastated both families and remains a dark cloud over the town.

But the brothers remain close and Steve is hopeful that Jeremy will be able to watch his fight against Ndlovu, which will televised live on TSN.

The plan is to defeat The Panther then unify the WBA and WBC versions of the world title.

And hopefully, just hopefully, start to attract a following in his home country.

He may be the world champion, but the well-spoken, good-looking fighter hardly is a household name in Canada.

"Without a doubt," said Molitor, when asked if he gets frustrated by the lack of support at home.

"I've been in the lion's den and I won the world title, but I still don't get the recognition. But I'm not going to cry or complain about it.

"I'm going to just take care of business."

(Tickets are available on June 18 at www.casinorama.com or at TicketMaster).


Videos

Photos