Hey, who you callin' pretty?

Steve Molitor proved that he can take a jab, at least of the verbal variety. (Sun Media/Ernest...

Steve Molitor proved that he can take a jab, at least of the verbal variety. (Sun Media/Ernest Doroszuk)

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

It's uncertain whether IBF world super bantamweight champion Steve Molitor can take a punch. The Sarnia native is such a slick boxer, he rarely gets hit cleanly.

But Molitor proved yesterday that he can certainly take a jab, at least of the verbal variety.

Celestino Caballero of Panama, the WBA champion of the same weight class, arrived in Toronto this week and promptly declared that Molitor -- his opponent for tomorrow night's historic unification bout at Casino Rama -- was a "Pretty Boy," a nickname that boxers tend not to appreciate.

Molitor, however, has no problem with it.

"We know one thing," Molitor said at a media conference yesterday. "Caballero's eyesight is bang-on."

Molitor, 28, said his good looks are a credit to the fact that his defensive skills are sublime.

"I'm not all banged-up and ugly like some of these other guys," said Molitor, while questioning why Caballero feels it is necessary to comment on another boxer's looks. "I don't know what they do in Panama, but I guess he is into judging guys. I don't know if he wants to fight me, or ... I'd better not finish that sentence."

Caballero, who takes a record of 30-2 (21 knockouts) into the ring tomorrow night, explained that he believes Molitor's "Pretty Boy" looks are the result of The Canadian Kid being afraid of getting hit and that his so-called "slick" style of fighting is more to do with the fact that Molitor "runs" from opponents.

Both Caballero and Molitor won their respective world titles in 2006 and both have defended their titles five times. The chance to unify the WBA and IBF crowns means not only a possible seven-figure pay day for the winner, but also a chance to earn legend status in the sport. For Caballero, that is extremely important, as boxing is like a religion in Panama. In fact, one of the great heroes of that nation is Roberto Duran, the ferocious little pug who won world titles in four weight divisions.

"Duran is my idol and the idol of Panama," said Caballero, adding that Duran is supposed to be at Rama tomorrow. "He is the only Panamanian to unify a world title and I want to be the second one to do that."

Another motivation for the 32-year-old Caballero is to make enough money to be able to send his 7-year-old son, Jaik, to Barcelona, so he can study and play soccer with the BFC youth squad.

"This fight is very important because it will be a bridge to make it all happen for my son, so I can take him to Spain," said Caballero, who wore a Barcelona FC shirt for the conference yesterday.

Meanwhile, Molitor's trainer, Stephane Larouche, took exception to Caballero's suggestion that Molitor runs in the ring, and that he does so because he is afraid of being hit.

"He will understand the difference between running and being slick," Larouche said, while acknowledging that the lanky Caballero, who carries 122 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame, will be Molitor's toughest opponent to date.

"He can box from the outside, he can bang inside, he can move. He has heavy hands and he can throw power punches from very weird angles, especially when you don't expect them -- while he is losing his balance, he can hurt you," Larouche said of Caballero. "But we're prepared for all that. Steve has a lot of answers."

"I'm going give him a boxing lesson," added Molitor, 28-0 (11 KOs), suggesting that all the talk on Caballero's part is cheap. "It's one thing to call someone the devil. It's another to face him."


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