Promoter Tremblay loves a fight

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:46 PM ET

TORONTO - There were some pretty tough-looking hombres hanging around the Real Sports Bar & Grill on Thursday morning.

Mixed martial arts fighters like Marlon Sandro, Chris Horodecki and Ronnie Mann were on hand to promote Saturday night’s Bellator 47 card at Casino Rama.

But one of the toughest guys at the media soirée was promoter Allan Tremblay. At 70, Tremblay isn’t about to put a choke hold on anyone, but the Mississauga resident has proven to be as tough as any of the fighters he promotes.

The former Air Canada executive is involved in his own fight, a life and death bout with prostate cancer.

He’s licked it once and is determined to do it again.

In the meantime, Tremblay continues to promote pro boxing cards in Ontario, Mexico and the United States and now is trying his hand at mixed martial arts — lending a hand with the Bellator 47 promotion, proving that you don’t have to shun one fight genre for the other.

“I get a lot of calls from boxing guys saying, ‘Jesus, have you gone over to the dark side?’” said Tremblay, with a laugh. “But it’s funny. I never looked it that way. But I guess they’re all loyal to their own sports.

“To me, a fight is a fight is a fight,” added Tremblay, who runs Orion Sports Management. “Do I love one more than the other? Yes. I’m a sweet science guy. But the bottom line is, I love a fight.”

And he’s fighting the good fight against cancer, travelling to Florida regularly for treatment and working out every single day. Tremblay is waiting on word from a recent round of tests and treatments and, if all goes well, he’ll be back promoting pro boxing this fall in Ontario. For years, he worked with Mississauga super bantamweight Steve Molitor, helping to guide The Canadian Kid to the IBF world title in 2006 and through numerous title defences. But last year, Tremblay sold Molitor’s contract to Top Rank. Under the American’s firm’s guidance, Molitor travelled to Johannesburg in March to face South African fighter Takalani Ndlovu. Twice in Canada, Molitor defended his world title against Ndlovu. The third time, however, wasn’t a charm. Molitor lost his title by unanimous decision in South Africa and is now contemplating retirement, though he has said that if another world title shot should arise, he’d seriously consider it.

“I wanted Steve to retire (after his 2010 fight with Jason Booth),” said Tremblay. “I felt his skill sets had eroded when I put him in defence of his title in England, against an opponent he should have blown away, and would have a year before.”

Molitor earned a majority decision over the Englishman, but his performance wasn’t particularly impressive. At that point, Tremblay felt it was time for Molitor to retire.

“But Steve felt he had another fight in him,” said Tremblay. “He was world champion, you can’t blame him for that. He had another big payday coming, though he did not want to fight in South Africa. And, unfortunately, he lost to a guy he had already beaten twice.”

Tremblay is currently working with undefeated light welterweight Felix Mercedes out of Buffalo and may join up with Canadian heavyweight champion Neven Pajkic of Toronto, who is 16-0.

“I have offered Neven and his manager Misho Jovicevic an opportunity. If they want to come on board with Orion Sports, I have a formula that I think will give them a shot at the world heavyweight title in no time at all,” said Tremblay. “I’m just waiting for a response.”

Though Pajkic is 33 and isn’t the hardest puncher in the division, Tremblay believes the Serbian-Canadian can make huge money in the next two years, if he plays his cards right.

“Neven’s the best kept secret in boxing,” said Tremblay. “Nobody knows about the guy. But he’s a gold mine waiting to happen and he’s a couple of fights away from a heavyweight title shot if he’s handled properly.”

As for Bellator 47, London, Ont. lightweight Horodecki, 17-3, is the highest ranked Canadian on the card and will face Chris Saunders, 9-1, of Buena Park, Calif.

The 23-year-old Horodecki began in MMA career in sensational style, starting off with 12 straight wins before losing to American Ryan (The Lion) Schultz in 2007. But he’s coming off a submission victory over David Castillo in April at Rama and is once again on the rise.

“Saunders is a good opponent and a tough guy,” said The Polish Hammer. “But I don’t think he’s ever fought anyone at my level.”

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