When his baby son was brought to him at the gym for the first time, Steve Molitor realized he's boxing for more than personal gratification.
"I'm fighting for something bigger now; for my family, to put food on the table," Molitor said yesterday at the Delta Chelsea hotel.
The Canadian Kid had been at a crossroads since losing the junior IBF featherweight crown last November in a fight against Panamanian Celestino Caballero, his first pro defeat (28-1). The road back for Molitor starts June 26 when he takes on Mexico's Heriberto Ruiz at the Rumble at Rama VIII.
"I wanted Steve back in the ring, not just hungry, but starving," said promoter Allan Tremblay, of Orion Sports.
So Molitor was steered away from the ring in the ensuing months, during which time he married wife Tiffany and celebrated the birth of Steel Michael Molitor. He also secured a post-career job with Brampton-based Triple M Metal and, for this fight at least, changed from travelling to work with busy Quebec trainer Stephane Larouche in favour of the Bramalea Boxing Club's Billy Martin.
Martin and Molitor have worked together before and a win on the 26th would be important for both men's careers. Molitor is waiting for the IBF to settle its next No. 1 match, whom the winner of the Rama fight could possibly face later in the year.
Right now, the one and two rankings are unfilled as Caballero appears set to move up a weight class, leaving Englishman Rendall Munroe and South African Jeffrey Mathebula among the No. 1 contenders.
HAUNTED BY LOSS
Molitor has replayed the fourth-round TKO to Caballero over and over in his head.
"Sometimes you get complacent and lose the fire," the Sarnia-born Molitor said. "Unfortunately, boxing is a cruel sport and my reputation was tarnished. But I'm not looking past June 26."
Ruiz is 41-7-2 and ranked behind Molitor.
"We've been working on Steve's head movements, his feet, his jab," Martin said. "He knows it's life and death for him, that if he loses, where does he go? Back in the pack. But if he wins, he's right back in the running for the title."