For IBF world super bantamweight champion Steve Molitor, getting in the ring and exchanging blows is the easiest part of being who he is.
The hard part is dealing with the fact that his brother Jeremy is not in the here and now of his everyday existence.
For about a half hour yesterday, members of the media, during a telephone conference call, asked Molitor and WBA champion Celestino Caballero questions about their highly anticipated unification bout on Nov.21 at Casino Rama. Both answered questions with little hype or venom, or very little emotion at all for that matter. That is until Molitor was asked if having his brother locked away for at least 14 years as a result of a 2004 second degree murder conviction has taken a toll on his life.
TOOK ITS TOLL
"It has taken a tremendous toll," Molitor said. "But it's just part of the trials and tribulations of my life. And for me to be able to get through that, and be able to be successful, shows what kind of man I am."
Molitor, 28, said he talks to Jeremy, who is locked away in a Kingston penitentiary, on a regular basis by phone and called his older brother, a former Commonwealth Games boxing gold medallist, his inspiration, despite the heinous crime Jeremy committed in May 2002, when he stabbed his girlfriend to death in their hometown of Sarnia.
"But it was a long time ago," Molitor said. "My focus now is completely on boxing. The past is the past. I survived, I stayed out of trouble, kept training, kept winning, and it made me who I am today."
And that is a world champion on the cusp of greatness. If Molitor, who is undefeated in 28 pro fights, defeats Caballero, he will be considered a true great, and also in line for a possible seven-figure pay day.
A win over the Panamanian could set up an even more lucrative payday against WBC champ Israel Vazquez of Mexico or Juan Lopez of Puerto Rico, the WBO king. But first he has to get past Caballero, who sports a record of 30-2 with 21 knockouts (as compared to only 11 knockouts for Molitor). Caballero, at 32, four years Molitor's senior, certainly has earned a reputation as being one of the best in the 122-pound division, defeating Somsak Sithchatchawal for the WBA title in Oct. 2006 in the Thai's homeland. Caballero sent the tough Thai fighter crashing to the canvas three times in the third round en route to a TKO victory.
Besides the experience factor, Caballero also has a tremendous reach advantage. He's listed at 5-foot-11, but the Molitor camp figures the WBA king to be at least 6-foot-1. Molitor is 5-foot-7. But Molitor's trainer, Stephane Larouche, said they have prepared for the height advantage and will be able to cut the big Panamanian down to size, so to speak.
"We've sparred over 150 rounds for this fight, with (fighters) 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-2," Larouche said.
"That's definitely going to be an obstacle -- 5-foot-11 at 122 pounds. That's unheard of," Molitor said, adding that he will use his superior hand and foot speed as a means to address the height and reach difference. "We've trained hard and we know what Caballero has, and we have the antidote."
Molitor also has some advantages. He's a southpaw, which makes him an awkward opponent, and he's on a major roll.
The Mississauga-based fighter travelled to England to beat Michael Hunter for the IBF title in 2006 and has defended the title five times since, including an impressive TKO win over Ceferino Labarda at Casino Rama on Aug. 29.
Another advantage is fighting at home. Furthermore, the Molitor camp also was shrewd enough to convince the sanctioning bodies to rule that Caballero has to weigh-in twice before the fight, the night before and the morning of, to insure that he doesn't add a few pounds on to his lanky frame by the time the bout rolls around.
But Caballero, who defeated another quality southpaw in former WBO champ Daniel Ponce de Leon in 2005, isn't worried about any of that.
"We could have fought anywhere and it wouldn't have made a difference," Caballero said. "We don't see any advantage Steve can get from the hometown crowd because once you're in the ring, the hometown fans can't fight for you."
The fight will be shown live on TSN and on Showtime -- exposing Molitor to a major American audience for the first time.