Molitor puts 'bad memories' behind him

Canadian Steve Molitor, right, will return to the ring June 26 against Mexico's Heriberto Ruiz....

Canadian Steve Molitor, right, will return to the ring June 26 against Mexico's Heriberto Ruiz. (Dave Thomas/Sun Media)

Dave Pollard, SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

TORONTO – Steve Molitor can pinpoint the exact day the disappointment and anger he felt after losing his world championship belt faded completely.

“It took up until January 5, when my son was born. Then all the bad memories were erased,” Molitor said Monday during a media event in Toronto announcing his return to the ring against Mexican Heriberto Ruiz June 26 at Casino Rama.

“It changed my perspective. I have a family to provide for now. Before I’d just fight, do my thing. It’s been a good change, a very positive change. I train my ass off and I go home and see my family and that really motivates me.”

Not that Molitor needs much additional motivation after losing his IBF junior featherweight title – and unblemished record, which fell to 28-1 – to Panamanian WBA champ Celestino Caballero in a unification bout last November. Caballero completely dominated Molitor before stopping him in the fourth round, stunning a partisan crowd at Casino Rama.

The 29-year-old from Sarnia, Ont., nicknamed ‘The Canadian Kid’, was shocked and embarrassed by a performance nobody saw coming.

“Mentally, I might have let the pressure get to me, let the hype build up,” Molitor admitted. “It was a Steve Molitor who has never shown up in the ring before. I’ve learned from it and I won’t make that mistake again. If it happens again, if I’m under that big pressure, I’ll be ready for it.”

After the loss to Caballero, promoter Allan Tremblay told Molitor to get completely away from boxing. During his respite from the ring, Molitor got married and had a son, Steel.

The time off also gave him some renewed perspective on a sport he’s been competing in for more than 20 years and a chance to get over the anger and disappointment.

“Everybody loses, it’s part of this sport,” he said. “There are lots of guys who have lost and come back to be world champions.”

Molitor’s road back to a title fight starts against 31-year-old Ruiz (41-7-2, 23 KOs), who beat Mauricio Martinez by unanimous decision to earn a spot in the main event at Casino Rama. The winner of the Molitor-Ruiz bout will receive the number two ranking by the IBF.

After successfully defending the IBF belt five times in Rumble at Rama events, Molitor will enter the ring for the first time since 2006 without a belt around his waist. It’s something he seems intent on rectifying quickly, even though he insists he isn’t looking past Ruiz.

“(The loss) made me hungry,” Molitor said. “It motivated me to train a little harder. Sometimes you get complacent. I have a lot to prove to the critics. If you win you’re a hero, if you lose you’re a zero. That’s the way the boxing world is. I knew that a long time ago.”

During the informal gathering at the Delta Chelsea hotel, Tremblay announced that Billy Martin will be in Molitor’s corner for the fight with Ruiz, replacing regular trainer Stephane Larouche. Martin has worked with Molitor on conditioning his last two fights but will have total control of his training for at least one fight.

“It did affect him initially but now he seems back on track,” Martin said of Molitor’s frame of mind following the loss to Caballero. “You can tell the difference between now and then. He’s very hungry to get back on top and prove himself.”

The switch in trainers, which could last just one fight, is not a result of what happened in November, Tremblay says. It’s more about Larouche’s busy schedule and the fact he’s located in Montreal.

Molitor wanted to stay close to his family – he calls Mississauga home now – while he prepared to face Ruiz. And in Martin, he gets a trainer he’s already familiar with.

“This is a huge fight for Steve, a massive fight,” Tremblay said. “The rationale behind that hasn’t anything to do with performance at all, or his relationship with Steve. We needed someone to give him full-time attention. This is a huge fight for both of them.”

Nine Canadians, including heavyweight Greg ‘The Steel Pole’ Kiesla, are scheduled to be part of the six-fight undercard at Casino Rama. The Molitor-Ruiz fight will be broadcast live on TSN.


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