Taking a fight to a fight

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

The pinnacle for any boxing promoter is to stage a card in a big Las Vegas casino, or at Madison Square Garden, or in a legendary fight joint like the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia.

But for Allan Tremblay, president of Orion Sports Management, the ultimate would be to put on a show in Afghanistan.

"I've talked to the IBF (International Boxing Federation) about potentially doing a fight over there, on the airbase for the troops," Tremblay said yesterday. "Could you imagine the atmosphere?"

Tremblay's goal is to have his fighter, IBF world junior featherweight champion Steve Molitor, headline a card in Afghanistan and televise the bout live back here. And if Molitor fights an American, all the better, because then they would have a live audience of soldiers from both countries.

"That would be unbelievable," Tremblay said.

Molitor, who has defended his title four times in the last year at Casino Rama, has become a fan favourite with the Canadian troops in Afghanistan, where all his title defences have been televised.

The Sarnia native, who is currently at camp in Montreal under the tutelage of new trainer Stephan Larouche, has two fights planned for the immediate future, an Aug. 29 defence against Argentina challenger Ceferino Dario Labarda and, if all goes well, a title unification bout Nov. 21 against WBA king Celestino Caballero of Panama. Both fights are to be held at Rama.

After that, the sky's the limit -- perhaps a lucrative rematch against Caballero, or more unification bouts against the likes of WBC champ Israel Vazquez or WBO king Juan Manuel Lopez.

As long as Molitor is fighting and competitive, boxing has a heartbeat in this province -- which certainly wasn't the case a few years ago.

Pro boxing has been over-regulated in Ontario and that has led to small-time promoters throwing in the towel and boxers packing up and relocating to places like Montreal, where the game is huge.

Tremblay has done wonders with Molitor, and his challenge now is to keep that momentum going, even after Molitor retires.

In that light, he plans to find and develop more fighters in Ontario -- and keep them here.

One fighter he is looking at is Toronto-based heavyweight Greg Kielsa, a former Polish Olympian who has an undefeated record of 6-0 -- and some charisma. Kielsa, who is managed by James Jardine, the same guy who manages Molitor, will fight on the Aug. 29 undercard against New York State heavyweight champ Darrel Madison (10-1).

Canadian heavyweight champ Raymond Olubowale (6-2-1) and Demetrice King (14-16) of Flint, Mich., also will fight on the Aug. 29 undercard, in a rematch of a war that saw King TKO Olubowale last Oct. 27.

If all goes well -- that is, if both Kielsa and Olubowale win -- Tremblay plans to match the two Toronto-area heavyweights in a bout for the Canadian title.

Another idea of Tremblay's is to stage a pro card featuring fighters from Montreal against fighters from Toronto, and have them walk into the ring wearing Canadiens and Leafs jerseys, respectively.

EASE REGULATIONS

He also plans to lobby the Canadian and Ontario governments to ease some of the tough regulations that have suffocated pro boxing -- i.e., the way promoters have to put up the money. As it is now, promoters have to put the total purse money up front, pay the fighters in full the night of the card, and then wait for a refund a week or two later after all the gate money has come back.

"You're being doubled up," Tremblay said. "And think of what that does to the guy promoting a little show who doesn't have two nickels to rub together. That kills the sport at the grassroots. So that has to be changed. Put purse money in escrow with a third party and use that as payment on the night. That way you don't have to double pay and carry that balance for two weeks."

Interestingly, a couple of months ago, Tremblay and Jardine almost lost Molitor to an American promoter. That would have been a huge blow to boxing in Ontario, but Tremblay said he already had a plan B, C and D in place, in terms of future fight cards in this province.

So there is some light at the end of the tunnel for fight fans in Ontario.


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