Molitor sees red

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

RAMA, Ont. -- Steve Molitor went to school last night and graduated with flying colours -- the main colour being red.

Red as in the blood above his left eye, running down his face. Red as in the colours of his Canadian trunks. Red as in the colour of the new gloves that protected previously injured hands.

Red, probably Molitor's new favourite colour.

In his third title defence at a sold-out Casino Rama -- this one being the most dramatic, the most emotional, the most challenging in terms of obstacles -- Molitor, the new Canadian boxing franchise, overcame two cuts above his eye, three head butts, a low blow, and a constant flow of blood on the left side of his face to win a one-sided unanimous decision over Mexico's Ricardo Castillo.

It was, at this time in his young history, the perfect kind of challenge for the undefeated Molitor, the IBF junior featherweight champion, a step up for him in so many different ways.

"He butted me (a third time) and I'd seen stars," said Molitor, after all three ringside judges scored the fight 118-109, bringing his record to 26-0 as a pro.

"The key is, I didn't panic."

At first, Molitor asked his trainer, Chris Johnson, if he was cut. He wasn't certain. "I don't like my face being marked up ... (This) was a huge learning experience for me. I faced a lot of obstacles, the head butts, the low blow. He's a tough guy."

So now we know, too, is Molitor.

Molitor controlled the fight from start to finish, both in tempo and by being busier than his opponent, cleverly moving to his right and successfully throwing left hooks and uppercuts -- he fights from the southpaw style -- to keep the experienced Castillo off guard.

Unlike his past performance at Rama, where Molitor fought cautiously and put in a so-so performance against Fahsan 3K Battery, he fought all 12 rounds last night -- aggressively bringing the crowd to its feet in the 12th even as he had the bout easily in hand.

A lot of other fighters might have been cautious.

"These people pay big money for the tickets," Molitor said. "I'm here to entertain."

The co-MVP of the night, if there was such a thing, was longtime cutman Lenny DeJesus, working his 58th world title fight. After Molitor was cut in the fourth round, he went back to his corner after almost every round with blood flowing from his eye lid. DeJesus did a terrific job of keeping the first of two cuts in check, and when the second one appeared, there was almost no other sign of trouble.

The constant blood would have -- and has -- spooked many fighters, especially one being cut for the very first time as a professional. Just not Molitor. Not on this night when he was paid six figures for a title defence and the most raucous of the Casino Rama crowds appreciated his lack of caution.

"He did a great job," Molitor said of his cutman. "He stopped the blood pretty good and I did the rest."

Molitor, a notorious slow starter, probably was pleased to see that Castillo didn't start any quicker than him last night. Molitor won the first three rounds without showing any kind of dominance: He won the majority of the rounds, outboxing Castillo, throwing more power punches, counter punching effectively, and moving to his right to protect the cuts above the left eye.

"Castillo didn't know where he was," Johnson said. "The great thing about Steve is he listens. Castillo couldn't find him (to hit him)."

The Molitor story gets more enticing as time goes on. This was the third defence of his world title, since winning the championship in 2006, the third defence at Casino Rama, the third sell-out. A fourth defence is expected in April.

By Ontario standards, this ongoing story still belongs in the sporting museum of the hard to believe. It's rare enough that a Canadian can call a championship his, but to become a house fighter, find a captive and active audience, and then put on a show ...

It is all part of the education process of being a champion. A champion who stepped up last night. A champion covered in his own blood. A champion who managed his celebration on his way to being stitched in the hospital.


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