Molitor's handlers have big plans

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 1:25 PM ET

By now, you should know Steve Molitor's name.

You should know his story. You should know he's defending his IBF junior featherweight title on Saturday night at Casino Rama.

You should know the fight is sold out -- that's what the promoters say, even though I was able to buy tickets online yesterday.

You should even know that he's the first local world champion to defend his title in Ontario in anybody's lifetime.

But the odds are, you don't know him and you don't know any of this.

This is all just beginning for Steve Molitor. The recognition. The attention. The buildup.

"We're going at this a little bit backward," said Allan Tremblay, Molitor's promoter. "In effect, we're building a product from the top down instead of from the bottom up. Normally in boxing, you start, you build up a fighter, you build up his record and his reputation. That's the normal way it's done.

"But the kid suffered as a result of my situation. I was sick for a couple of years and couldn't pay attention to this. Still, we got him to a title.

"He won the title. It happened so quickly. If you think about it, nobody has achieved what Molitor has done.

"He's a born and bred Canada. He has come through the Canadian amateur system. He drapes himself in the flag."

And people should love him. If only they knew who he was. If only they knew he was fighting somebody named Takalani Ndlovu of South Africa, live on national television. If only anybody out there gave a hoot about boxing.

The fact the fight is sold out is something of a minor miracle. Fights don't sell out anymore, especially not in dormant Ontario, where professional boxing has all but disappeared.

But the combination that has been so successful on a larger scale in the United States -- the marrying of a casino, a promoter and a television network -- has been a marriage of financial convenience for what's left of boxing.

Tremblay, if truth be told, says he bought the air time to televise the fight himself on TSN. He says the program will turn a profit, as will the fight card with Molitor promised a whopping purse of six figures for a junior featherweight fighter. This is, Tremblay says, like planting seeds.

A fight now. A television show now. These are the building blocks: All Molitor has to do to co-operate is win.

Then they're looking at larger projects.

The fight Saturday night is going to be specially televised for Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The next fight, if they can pull it off, will be staged live in Afghanistan for the Canadian troops.

They are wrapping this kid in the flag, pushing all the promotional buttons, trying to create a buzz around him. Trying to create a new Canadian hero.

"My dream with him is to do a fight on the base in Afghanistan," Tremblay said. "And I'm already working on that. So far, nobody's telling me no.

"We'd like to set up a fund for families who lost their loved ones. We'd like to put that in Molitor's name, get corporate Canada behind him. We're thinking outside the box with this kid. If (people) don't know him then, they never will."

The title fight on the weekend could have been part of the undercard of the recent Ricky Hatton show in Las Vegas, which was shown live on HBO in the United States. The money was the same. "But I think we need to start the process at home," Tremblay said. "We need to make sure everybody knows who Steve Molitor is."

That has been the problem. From the inside, at least two other promoters, Rick Glaser and Ricardo Salazar, have made legal claims to Molitor's contract.

"I know the business. I know what crawls out from under rocks," Tremblay said. "We wouldn't have heard from anyone if Steve didn't win the title ... I'd rather pay the attorneys than have to pay somebody to go away."

But for now, without a ticket to sell, there is a title fight to take care of, the first in the province since Nicky Furlano went 15 rounds with Aaron Pryor 23 years ago.

Steve Molitor wasn't in attendance. The Kid was all of four years old at the time.


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