Molitor aiming for KOs

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

World super bantamweight champ Steve Molitor has been a knockout with boxing fans in Ontario since turning pro in 2000.

But now he wants to be a knockout in the record book.

The one knock against Molitor, who defends his IBF title tonight at Casino Rama against Ceferino Labarda of Argentina, has been his inability to send most of his vanquished opponents down for the count. In his 27 undefeated fights, the Sarnia native has only 10 knockouts.

Molitor is considered a proficient boxer, who defeats his opponents with speed and combinations and excellent defence. But boxing fans love knockouts and Molitor's new trainer, Stephane Larouche, believes that KOs will soon start piling up for his fighter.

"This is my goal, for him to be able to crack at the right time," Larouche said. "He's really powerful for a 122-pound fighter. But he's not using (his power) properly."

Larouche, who also trains world super-middleweight champ Lucian Bute and an assortment of other world-class fighters in Montreal, said Molitor is "too tight" in the ring, and has to loosen up.

"He tries too hard. He's tight. And he wants to knock out the guy with every single punch," Larouche said. "But you cannot throw a fluid combination when you're tight. You have to get looser and then you crack, and that's what we're working on now."

Larouche believes that Molitor will surprise some people as he continues his quest to unify for the super-bantamweight division.

A victory against Labarda tonight will set up a unification bout against WBA champ Celestino Caballero of Panama, probably on Nov. 21.

"What he has achieved in boxing so far is a result of his physical ability," Larouche said. "This guy could win a medal in track and field. But he has a lot of power sleeping in him."

Molitor said he already has felt himself punching harder in sparring since joining Larouche's gym last month.

"I've always known I was strong," he said. "And when push comes to shove, and I can bang it out with anybody."

BELT ON THE LINE

John Ruiz will face Nicolai Valuev for the WBA heavyweight belt in Berlin tomorrow. The 35-year old Valuev and the 36-year-old Ruiz were given a title fight after the WBA declared Ruslan Chagaev "champion in recess," following an Achilles' tendon injury that forced him to cancel his rematch with Valuev.

DE LA HOYA BOUT SET

Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao confirmed they will meet Dec. 6 in Las Vegas, after Pacquiao, the dynamic Filipino lightweight, agreed to move up 12 pounds to welterweight.


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