A year ago, boxing trainer Chris Johnson called Sarnia fighter Steve Molitor a "puppet" and a "yes man".
Well, Molitor must have a soft spot for puppets, as the two are now back working together and preparing for Molitor's second comeback fight Friday night at Casino Rama.
Last June, a bitter Johnson threw insult after insult Molitor's way after the fighter decided to split with Johnson, his trainer. The row started when Johnson, a former national team fighter, convinced Molitor to dump his manager James Jardine and promoter Allan Tremblay. But then Molitor changed his mind and dumped Johnson.
But after going through a number of trainers, and losing for the first time as a pro (a fourth-round TKO loss to Celestino Caballero last Nov. 21 for the IBF world super bantamweight title), Molitor has decided to join up again with Johnson and no longer will train with the Montreal-based Stephane Larouche.
Whether the move is a good one will be seen on Friday when Molitor faces Paraguayan veteran Dario Azuaga -- who is a last minute fill-in for Argentine Sergio Javier Escobar. Azuaga, 35, has seen better days, having lost three of his past five, but he is still a solid puncher, having recorded 64 KOs in his 76 wins, against 15 losses and two draws. Molitor is 29-1 with 11 KOs.
Johnson also hammered Jardine and Tremblay during his rant last year, calling the respected boxing management team Molitor's "slave masters" and suggesting that they were ripping the fighter off.
For his part, Tremblay said last night that it's time to forgive and forget because, at the end of the day, Molitor has fought best with Johnson in his corner.
"Going back with Johnson wasn't my first choice, that's for sure," Tremblay said. "But, to me, Steve just hasn't looked right. He just didn't deliver for (Larouche). Steve has a shelf life of a year and-a-half to two years at the top level of the game, and we're going for another world title fight, so this is great for Steve's confidence.
"But Chris is on a short leash and if I don't like what I see, he won't be there," he said.
Molitor, 29, is expected to defeat Azuaga, but the co-main event for Friday's card, features WBO world jr. bantamweight champion Jose Lopez defending his title against budding superstar (Marvelous) Marvin Sonsona.It's a very intriguing matchup, pitting a crafty veteran in Lopez, who never has been knocked out in 48 pro fights, against Sonsona, a 19-year-old boxing sensation, who is undefeated in 13 consecutive fights, with 12 knockouts.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the Lopez-Sonsona bout is that the Ontario Athletic Commission is allowing the fight. One of the complaints against the commissioner Ken Hayashi in recent years (and there have been many) is that commish has, let's say, "discouraged" promoters from bringing big punchers into the province. But both Lopez and Sonsona are tremendous punchers and the bout could be over quickly, and in brutal fashion.
"You've got two guys who will be throwing absolute bombs at each other," said Jason Abelson, of Orion Sports, the fight's promoter. "It's going to be, throw first, think later."