Rocked at Rama

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

RAMA -- Steve Molitor ran into a bigger, faster and more complete fighter in Celestino Caballero last night, losing his IBF super bantamweight championship to the Panamanian boxer.

Caballero, improving his record to 31-2, 22 KOs, recorded a technical knockout at 52 seconds of the fourth round. He sent Sarnia-native Molitor crashing to the canvas with a right uppercut early in the fourth. Molitor got to his feet but was issued an eight count, but then Caballero finished him off a few seconds later with a combination and the fight was stopped.

Caballero, who has tremendous speed and a whipping punching style, captured Molitor's IBF title and retained his WBA in the unification championship fight at Casino Rama.

The loss was Molitor's first in 29 pro fights.

Caballero, who goes by the nickname Pelenchin, which means street brawler, entered the ring to a chorus of boos. Molitor, who followed, was greeted with an eruption of cheers and chants of "Lets go Stevie!"

But Caballero, practically a freak at 5-foot-11, 122 pounds, set the pace early in the fight, using his left jab and reach to score consistently in the opening two rounds, including numerous shots to the body, while the 5-foot-7 Molitor attempted to counter with looping hooks that failed to get through.

By the third round, Caballero was gaining more and more confidence, smiling, dancing, and gesturing Molitor to come to him. Caballero then nailed Molitor with a crisp right uppercut to finish that round.

The Panamanian finished off The Canadian Kid with the telling blow, another right upper cut, in the fourth, sending the Mississauga-based fighter to the canvas and prompting referee Luis Pabon to issue an eight count. Caballero then hit Molitor with a combination and his Montreal-based trainer, Stephane Larouche, jumped up and motioned for Pabon to stop the fight, which he did.

"I couldn't get off tonight, he was the better man," a disappointed Molitor said. "I felt tight going in and he had a huge advantage in reach and that was a big advantage.

"When the fight was over, I thought I could continue, but Steph is the man , and he called it off," Molitor said.

Caballero knew he had Molitor on the ropes in the fourth.

"I worked hard for this fight and God helped me come to this victory. I knew I almost had a knockout, I saw his legs go so I worked hard to keep going," Caballero said.

In a 131 amateur and 28 pro fights prior to last night's bout, Molitor had only been down once, to Henry Arjona in 2005, although The Canadian Kid bounced right back up and recorded a unanimous decision win.

WHAT'S NEXT?

If Molitor had won last night's fight, his manager James Jardine had his fighter lined up to face South African boxer Jeffrey Mathebula (21-2-2) in defence of his IBF title. After that, Jardine was hoping to match Molitor against WBC champ Israel Vazquez of Mexico (42-4) in another championship unification bout. Or they would have gone after former world champion Rafael Marquez (37-5) of Mexico or WBO king Juan Manuel Lopez (23-0) of Puerto Rico.

"Any of those fights would probably be a million-dollar pay day," Jardine said.

Caballero will now get to face either Vazquez or Lopez.

"Molitor is not a warrior. He is a fine, great champion, but only for the public," Caballero said. "The most important fight is to unify and I call on the other champions to get into the ring."

In the main undercard bout, former Polish Olympian Greg (The Steel Pole) Kielsa defeated lumbering Toronto boxer Raymond Olubowale for the Canadian heavyweight title, improving his pro record to 8-0 (3 KOs).


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