RAMA -- Steve Molitor needed to make a statement here last night.
And the former IBF featherweight boxing champion from Sarnia did just that, dismantling veteran Dario Azuaga of Argentina en route to a technical knockout in the co-main event of Rumble at Rama IX.
Molitor (30-1, 12 KOs) sent Azuaga to the canvas briefly in the second round, knocked him down in the fourth and again in the fifth before the Argentine's corner threw in the towel 1:50 into the round.
"This was definitely a fight for me to showcase that I'm still a world-class fighter," said Molitor after the match, his second since losing his title to Celestino Caballero last fall in a title unification bout that, at the time, was seen as a career-definer for the Canadian Kid.
"I feel 100% now," said a confident Molitor.
Last night's match was never in doubt. Azuaga, who came into the bout sporting a 75-15-2 record. But, it was obvious from the start that Molitor was the superior fighter, better puncher and a finer tactician. He never took a serious blow and looked blemish-free a few minutes after his fight when he made his broadcast debut as a colour commentator for TSN for the final bout of the night -- which saw Puerto Rico's Jose Lopez lose the first defence of his WBO junior bantamweight title by unanimous decision to Marvin Sonsona.
Molitor's bout was his first since reuniting with trainer Chris Johnson, the 1992 Olympic bronze-medallist who was with Molitor when he won the IBF title in 2006. He was also with Molitor when he successfully made four title defences.
"Steve did a lot less moving tonight and he came inside more," Johnson said. "I was pretty impressed with his performance. Great things will come from Steve Molitor."
Sonsona, 19, meanwhile, broke into tears when the belt was placed around his waist following his 114-111, 115-110 and 116-109 decision.
"It feels great to win," the Filipino said. "Lopez is a veteran fighter and a great champion. It's a great win for me."
It was in the eighth that Lopez may have lost the match as he was assessed a penalty for hitting below the belt.
With the dramatic upset win, Sonsona remains perfect, improving his record to 14-0. Lopez fell to 39-8-2.
On the undercard, Canadian heavyweight champ Greg Kielsa remained undefeated when his fight with Kevin Montiy of the U.S. was stopped in the second round after the American received a bloody gash over his left eye from an accidental headbutt.
Canadian Stephan Boyd knocked out Pedro DeMeloin in a super middleweight bout; Brampton welterweight Felix Mercedes outclassed Toronto's Dan Caron, and Hamilton's Justin Fountain scored a unanimous decision over Frankie Abbiw in their middleweight clash.
Brampton welterweight Felix Mercedes outclassed Toronto's Dan Caron, while Hamilton's Justin Fountain scored a unanimous decision over Frankie Abbiw in their middleweight clash.