Not singing Molitor's praises

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Celestino Caballero, the WBA world super bantamweight champion, is a soft-spoken boxer who lets his fists doing the talking.

And as he demonstrated following a workout at Toronto's Cabbagetown Boxing Gym yesterday, he actually prefers singing to talking.

The lanky Panamanian broke out in song as he conversed with members of the Toronto media. The 32-year-old fighter has a pretty good voice and, in fact, plans to become a professional reggae singer when his boxing career is over.

Caballero's first order of business, however, is to put his title on the line on Friday night at Casino Rama when he challenges world IBF king Steve Molitor. The winner walks away with both crowns and a chance to move on to an even more lucrative unification bout against either WBC champ Israel Vazquez or WBO title-holder Juan Lopez.

Caballero, 30-2 (21KOs), is as laid back as they come. And only after some serious prodding did he confess his true feelings about Molitor, a Sarnia-born fighter who now lives in Mississauga. In a nutshell, Caballero isn't impressed with The Canadian Kid.

"He doesn't fight," said Caballero, who goes by the nickname Pelenchin, which means Street Brawler. "He runs away. I actually think he's a bit afraid that I will (crush) his head, because he looks like a pretty boy.

"I think he's a little bit afraid of punches," the Panama City native added. "It seems he doesn't have the desire to eliminate the opponent."

Not having the "desire to eliminate the opponent" is Caballero's way of belittling Molitor's punching power and his observation that the Canadian "runs away" is how Caballero breaks down Molitor's boxing style.

Molitor is neither a big puncher -- 11 knockouts in 28 consecutive wins -- nor does he allow himself to stand in front his opponent and go toe to toe.

The 28-year-old Molitor is a slick boxer who uses his speed and southpaw stance to stymie the opposition, and that's what he hopes to do against Caballero, who surprised the boxing world when he recorded a TKO victory over Somsak Sithchatchawal in 2006, knocking the Thai fighter down three times in the third-round en route to capturing the WBA title. Since then, Caballero has defended his belt five times, as has Molitor, who won the IBF version of the world super bantamweight title from Brit Michael Hunter in 2006, in Hartlepool, England.

Caballero, who fights at 122 pounds despite a 5-foot-11 frame, said he has no fears fighting Molitor in the Canadian's homeland. He said after what he went through in the Sithchatchawal bout, he's ready for anything.

"They did a lot of tricks to me in Thailand," he said. "But I was able to overcome all the obstacles."

One of the tricks, Caballero said, was taking him for a five-hour drive the day of the fight, when the drive from their hotel to the venue was supposed to be only three hours.

And while Molitor will have the home-crowd advantage of Friday night, Caballero has the backing of an entire boxing-mad nation.

"Panama has 3.3 million people and we have had around 30 world champions, so it is the main sport of our country," said Gilberto Boyd Diaz, the Panamanian Consul General to Canada. "So he is very popular."

Diaz picked up Caballero at the airport on Saturday and will be in Rama, as will the greatest Panamanian fighter of all time, Roberto Duran, who won world titles in four weight classes.

When asked what "Hands of Stone" is doing back in Panama these days, Diaz laughed and said: "Drinking a lot of rum."

Most likely rum punch.


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