Conference Call Quotes: Steve Molitor, Celestino Caballero
STEVE MOLITOR AND CELESTINO CABALLERO
CONFERENCE CALL QUOTES
Undefeated International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Steve “The Canadian Kid” Molitor and World Boxing Association (WBA) super bantamweight boss Celestino Caballero will battle to unify the titles on Friday, Nov. 21, from Casino Rama, in Ontario, Canada, live on ShoBox: The New Generation on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
The 12-round world title unification fight is the first ever in the eight-year history of ShoBox and the first to take place in Canada. Orion Sports Management will promote the historical scrap between two of the most talented 122-pounders in the world.
“This is a historic unification fight,” said Gordon Hall, Executive Producer of ShoBox. ”We showcased Vazquez-Marquez on SHOWTIME, now both Molitor and Caballero want to make their statement and establish themselves as the best at 122-pounds. It will be a classic chess match between two very skilled boxers. This is boxing at its best.”
Others speaking on Tuesday’s call were Molitor’s promoter (Allan Tremblay), his trainer (Stephane Larouche), his manager (James Jardine), Caballero’s trainer (Rogelio Espino) and Jeff Craik of Casino Rama.
TREMBLAY: Welcome, everybody. We’re exceptionally proud to put this event on. Not only is it the first unification fight in the history of the country, it is arguably the biggest fight in the history of Canada. So obviously we’re delighted with all of that.
I would like to thank first and foremost, Casino Rama and Jeff Craik and his crew for coming to the table financially for this fight. As you know, the big fights go where the money is. And it shows how far boxing has come and in Ontario, specifically, with a big‑time player with Casino Rama on board.
And last but not least, I want to say how proud we are to have our very first event for Orion Sports Management on SHOWTIME in the United States. This is also a first for us, and we’re honored and delighted to present it.
CRAIK: It was a little over a year and a half ago when you (Tremblay) and I got the green light for the first rumble. And you and I had a bit of a hint to build boxing in Ontario, to invest in and build. This really is the culmination of a year and a half of hard work by your team and the Casino Rama team. And, of course, Steve himself. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be hosting this in 10 short days.
BARDINE: We’re delighted that both young boxers can get together in such an important fight, that it’s on SHOWTIME and going around the world. And specifically that it’s happening at Casino Rama, who has come to the table. It is a great opportunity. All questions will be answered on Nov. 21.
LAROUCHE: As you will notice I’m in the French area of Canada and it’s an honor for me to be involved in a major event that takes place in Ontario. It looks good from outside, looks like everything has been done. But it takes someone to dream. And Mr. Tremblay was dreaming about putting on such a big fight in Canada.
So on my side, we’ve been taking that fight very seriously. Caballero is a good fighter. He’s a crafty fighter. He’s an awkward fighter. He’s a heavy‑handed puncher.
He can post punches from weird angles. So it’s not an easy task to fight in front of a guy like this. So we have Steve spar over 150 rounds before a fight like this with kids that are (between) five-feet-10 and six-feet-two.
He’s been doing really well. I think he’ll answer the task promptly on Nov. 21. He will surprise people. And he will prove that he belongs and shall be recognized as one of the best 122- pounders around the world. So we’re looking forward to being there, putting on a good show and enjoying the moment of that first historic fight in Ontario.
MOLITOR: Like Stephane said, we have a big task in front of us. This guy’s a good fighter. He is a world champion for a reason. But we’ve trained very hard, left no stone unturned. We’ve done our homework. We’ve watched video. On Nov. 21, we’re going to see who the 122‑pound king is.
ESPINO: We’re very excited to be in this unification title fight. Caballero is excited to be in a unification fight for the first time in his career. We thank Molitor for making this fight happen. It takes two champions to make this work. We’re just very fortunate and happy that Team Caballero is in a world title unification fight.
CABALLERO: We’ve been training extremely hard in my native Panama. We’ve been eyeing this date, Nov. 21, for a long time. We’ve been putting a lot of work in the gym. We’ve been training hard, and we’re just really fortunate and happy that we have this fight in the books. And we can’t wait to go to Canada and make this fight happen.
QUESTION: Steve, what’s the biggest obstacle you think for you fighting Caballero, who is so lanky and somewhat awkward? Is that a problem or anything you have to overcome?
MOLITOR: It’s definitely going to be an obstacle – a five-foot-11, 122-pounder is unheard of. He’s going to have a reach advantage. But with my hand and foot speed, the sparring we’ve brought in and the obstacles we’ve overcome in sparring, we’ll be ready come Nov. 21.
QUESTION: Stephane, you mentioned that Steve has done 150 rounds of sparring with a lot of big guys. Is there any danger in that, of overtraining?
LAROUCHE: Steve has always prepared between 140-160 rounds. That’s what we did last time. He was not overtrained. Of course we started the heavy guys earlier in preparation over the last two or three weeks. He’s been sparring with 135-pounders, six-foot tall, six foot-one. So I think he will come and he will not be overtrained. He’ll be in tremendous shape.
QUESTION: Celestino, how is having to weigh in Thursday night and again Friday morning going to affect your preparation for the fight?
CABALLERO: The two weigh‑ins in two days are not really going to affect me because I’m usually on point (weight) well before that time. So it’s not really an issue. The weight’s never been an issue despite my tall frame and fighting at 122. We control the weight well before those two days so we know where we are. I mean, it’s kind of a science that we appreciate now.
QUESTION: Steve, how do you plan to fight a tall guy? Do you try to work yourself inside?
MOLITOR: I’m not here to let the cat out of the bag. For stuff like that, you’ve got to wait until Nov. 21.
QUESTION: Steve, what would it represent for you to hold two belts?
MOLITOR: It’s a dream come true. This is a fight that I’ve been dreaming of since I started boxing nearly 20 years ago. It’s something I’ve always wanted, to be the best of the best. And when you have two champions fighting, that is what you’re going to get is the best of the best. And that’s what I’ve been training for. And come Nov. 21, my dream’s going to come true.
QUESTION: Do you have plans to go after (any of the other 122-pound champions)?
MOLITOR: Right now my focus is strictly on Celestino Caballero on Nov. 21. I don’t have any plans past that. My mind is for Nov. 21 and that’s it.
QUESTION: Stephane, what has it been like for you first training Lucian (Bute) for his IBF title fight and then training Steve? Has this been a hectic schedule for you?
LAROUCHE: It was a good schedule. But when you’re raised with boxing, you’re used to it. I’ve been in boxing all my life. I’ve been in the boxing gym all my life. So it’s even better for a trainer to prepare two guys at the same time. You get two for one. And one was over Oct. 24 with Lucian. Steve and I have spent mostly every day together since that fight. So it was good timing, good preparation and good spirit in the gym that we’re running together. It was a good atmosphere.
QUESTION: Steve, you certainly have fought a number of quality opponents. Where do you put Caballero at this point in your career? Is he your toughest fight to date?
MOLITOR: By far. Like I said, he’s a world champion for a reason — because he’s the best out there. He’s by far the best fighter I’ve fought to date.
QUESTION: Steve, you’re obviously an extremely stylish southpaw, with great conditioning who relies on a high work rate. But you also have had limited power. Do you see it a case where it’s going to be basically your superior hand (and foot speed) and basically high work rate that’s going to take you to victory in this fight?
MOLITOR: We trained hard. We know what Caballero has and we have the antidote for whatever he has to bring. Whatever we want to do in there come Nov. 21, it’s going to be on us, whatever we want to do, we’re just going to do it.
QUESTION: Steve, what things do you think you can improve on now that you are working with Stephane?
MOLITOR: When we had to leave Chris (Johnson), I told Allan (Tremblay) and James (Jardine) there’s only one man for the job. And there was a man I worked with briefly before and that was Stephane Larouche. I said if Chris is out, then the only man I can have in my corner is Stephane Larouche.
QUESTION: Was there any particular reason why you and Chris parted ways?
MOLITOR: Not to discuss today.
QUESTION: Stephane, were there things that you saw in Steve that you thought you could improve upon?
LAROUCHE: I was in Ontario when he won the title fight. I was there a few times. He was already a good developed fighter, but I really believed we could improve some aspect of his boxing in terms of quality of his punches, in terms of being more relaxed, being more fluid in the ring, being more versatile. Basically I don’t want to change him dramatically, but one step at a time we’re doing some changes. When you reach that level, small changes becomes a big difference in the ring. So we go one step at a time and basically that’s what I’m doing with Steve. I’m real proud working with him.
QUESTION: Celestino, Steve says he’ll be your toughest opponent. Do you see him being as your toughest opponent to date?
CABALLERO: Every boxer is tough for me. I don’t think any opponent is better than any other. Every opponent is the same for me.
QUESTION: So, you’re saying that you’re treating this fight here like any other fight, that all your opponents are tough, you don’t rate or regard any other fighter over one or another, you treat them the same?
QUESTION: Steve, you hold one of the titles, you’re undefeated and a lot of people that follow boxing consider you one of the most underrated fighters out there. This is going to be your first major fight on American TV. A lot of American fans have not seen you unless they’ve seen some of your fights on YouTube or Canadian TV. Can you describe your style and the kind of fighter you are for those who haven’t seen you yet?
MOLITOR: I’m a very tactical boxer. Good boxing skills like most southpaws. We’re working on special things for this fight to give to Caballero. But I’m a boxer like Pernell Whitaker.
QUESTION: Steve, you have displayed power in a number of different fights and have knockouts and TKOs in recent fights against some good fighters in (Takalani) Ndlovu and South African Michael Hunter. (What’s your take) that people will see your record of 28‑0 and 11 knockouts and question your power?
MOLITOR: I definitely do have power. It’s when my back’s really to the wall and these guys come to fight is when the power is displayed. When you fight a guy who is a survivor who just hangs on, it makes it harder to get the knockout. But when somebody is opening up, going for the victory, is willing to exchange, then the power is displayed.
QUESTION: Stephane, would you comment a little more on Steve’s style, what kind of fighter to expect on Nov. 21 and what improvements people will see in that fight?
LAROUCHE: People will realize that in the very near future that Steve Molitor not only was one of the most underrated fighters, but he was also one of the best kept secrets in boxing, because, as it was mentioned, he hasn’t been shown in the United States until now. He was a good fighter in the beginning of his career. And (once he) gets looser and looser and able to develop that power, we’ll surprise some people.
QUESTION: Celestino, you’re going into the home area of Steve and there will be a lot of fans rooting for him. What’s it going to be like for you to be defending your belt and fighting this unification in Ontario, Canada?
CABALLERO: It doesn’t really affect me going to Canada. We could have fought anywhere and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Fighters fight. And we don’t see any advantage that Steve can get from the hometown crowd, because once you’re inside the ring, a fight is a fight. Fans can’t fight for you, the hometown crowd can’t fight for you. So we don’t see it being an obstacle. We don’t see it being a problem in this fight at all.
QUESTION: Celestino, you’ve fought some very top level fighters over the last few years, (Daniel) Ponce De Leon and (Hose) Valbuena. You went to Thailand to fight (Somsak) Singchachawan. And you fought guys like (Jorge) Lacierva and recently (Lorenzo) Parra. Do you consider Molitor to be the best fighter, or in the class of these other great fighters?
CABALLERO: I’m prepared for Molitor and what he’s going to bring. Certainly fighting the likes of the people that you mentioned, Ponce DeLeon, my fight in Thailand and the Lacierva fight, has prepared me to compete at a high level, and keeps me competing at a high level. As far as Molitor being the best I’ve seen in the ring, like I said, I respect every opponent no matter their record, no matter their title belts. I approach each opponent the same way.
QUESTION: Steve, do you have a prediction?
MOLITOR: I’m not making a prediction but, I’m just going to tell you we’ve had a great training camp. We’ve brought in the best sparring possible. And come Nov. 21, I’m going to give everything I have and leave nothing inside the ring.
QUESTION: Steve, Caballero said he wants you to fight him and not run, which he’s seen you do in past fights. Reaction?
MOLITOR: Can he run? Can he come to the track and watch me run?
QUESTION: Celestino, how do you feel physically and mentally for this fight and can you see it ending in knockout or unanimous decision in your favor?
CABALLERO: I’m prepared to write another chapter in my history. I’m prepared to make it a great showing of my skills as a boxer and come out with a victory. Mentally and physically I’m fine. I’m perfect. In good condition like I always am. I can’t say I’m in the best shape of my life because I always feel like I’m in the best shape of my life for every fight I’m in.
It’s going to be a trying out process in the ring. If Steve can take a shot, he can take a shot. If he can’t, we’re going to see this fight ending early. But I can’t predict that I’m going to knock him out. I can’t predict I’m going to win by decision. It’s going to be a wait‑and‑see approach once we get inside the ring, I test him a little bit and he tests me, but I’m confident that this will go my way.
QUESTION: Steve, do you feel tremendous pressure at all having to defend your title against a fellow world champion in your country of Canada?
MOLITOR: There’s always pressure at this level. That’s what motivates me to train hard every day. It’s what motivates me to get up and go for my runs. Those are what make me who I am. I enjoy the pressure that it brings on me.
QUESTION: Steve, are you looking to make a statement in this fight?
MOLITOR: I’m looking, first and foremost, to fight my fight and to get the job done. I’m also excited that the American fans finally get to see Steve Molitor on television. And I’m really looking forward to that and that’s why I’ve been training so hard. I won’t disappoint on Nov. 21.
QUESTION: Steve, even though what happened to your brother was a few years ago and has been well-documented (Jeremy Molitor is serving life in prison), how trying was it on you as far as being able to focus? What kind of toll did it take on you?
MOLITOR: It’s a tremendous toll. But it’s just the trials and tribulations of my life. And for me to go through that and still be able to succeed just shows the type of man I am. So when I step in the ring on Nov. 21 to fight a guy hand to hand, it’s going to be — it’s an easy task for me considering what I’ve been through in my life. My brother, he’s on the phone with me all the time telling me to train hard and stay focused so that also helps as well.
QUESTION: So, you’re getting inspiration there from your brother all the time?
MOLITOR: Yeah, all the time.
QUESTION: How much do you think about that (what transpired)?
MOLITOR: Not too much. It was a long time ago, in 2002. My focus is completely on boxing. The past is the past. I survived. I stayed out of trouble. I kept winning. I kept training and, like I said, it is part of my life and it’s made me who I am today.
QUESTION: As far as making a statement about winning, do you see yourself after this fight with a good win calling out Israel Vasquez, Rafael Marquez or any of the top 122‑pounders?
MOLITOR: Like I said, we’re down here training hard, training every day. And right now my focus is solely on Celestino Caballero. After the fight, those questions will be answered.
QUESTION: Celestino, you’ve fought on SHOWTIME before. At the end of the post-fight interview, you looked into the camera and said in English that, “The best is yet to come.’’ Career-wise, do you still feel that the best is yet to come?
CABALLERO: I think the best is yet to come. I think the media, the boxing public hasn’t seen me at my best simply because great opposition brings out the best in you. And there are fights like the fight that I have with Molitor that’s going to bring out the best in me. There are fights I could have with the likes of Israel Vasquez, Rafael Marquez that will bring out the best in me, too.
I’m confident you haven’t seen the best yet. And I will only get better through time and through tougher competition. (You know) you’re improving from fight to fight (when you can) showcase your talents against greater opponents every time. And that’s what I want to prove and that’s how I think I’m going to prove that the best is yet to come.
QUESTION: Steve, you went to England to win your title two years ago. What was that experience like for you and how difficult was it to go over there and win?
MOLITOR: It wasn’t difficult at all. As Caballero said, once that bell rings, no fans can fight for you. Sure it’s nice for them to cheer you on, stuff like that. But it’s man versus man. The crowd doesn’t really have an effect. That’s the way it was in England. He could have had a million people there; it didn’t make any difference. It’s just me versus him.
QUESTION: For both of you through the course of this conference call, everything’s been really polite and you guys kind of talk about your goals, what you guys want to accomplish with this fight. But at what point does it become personal? Like at what point, Steve, do you want to beat Celestino? And Celestino, at what point do you want to beat Steve?
MOLITOR: I’ll tell you right now the day I signed the contract I’m looking to be the WBA champion and beat Celestino Caballero. I’m not an animal. I’m a professional boxer, I’m going to go in there, do my job, win the fight however I have to do it, and that’s the end of the story.
CABALLERO: I think we’re just two professionals that go about our business inside the ring as opposed to outside of it. I don’t think myself or Steve feel comfortable in exchanging in a war of words. He thinks he’s going to win. I think I’m going to win. We both know that. As far as we’re both concerned, fists do the talking, and we’ll only find out who is victorious Nov. 21 and that’s when I guess we’ll do the most talking after we win.
QUESTION: Allan, if Steve wins this fight, will he continue fighting in Canada or will he move on to the U.S.?
TREMBLAY: That’s still open. And obviously we’ve spent a year and a half building not only the Molitor brand in this country but also boxing in this country with Steve. And, as such, our first obligation, first and foremost is always to Casino Rama. I’ve got to tell you, it takes money to put a fight on like this. The fight comes here because the money’s here. It’s not in Las Vegas. It’s not in another part of the United States or Panama. It’s here because the money’s here. That’s the casino. Because of that, they’ll always have first right of refusal. They’ll have to step up financially if the situation dictates it, but that’s where we are.
TREMBLAY: On behalf of the group, again, I sincerely want to welcome everybody up here. It’s going to be a tremendous night in Canadian boxing history. We are making history not only with the invitation, but with the first one of its type in Canada. And I want to welcome Mr. Caballero. He will be treated exceptionally well as everybody is when they come here. I think it’s going to be a dynamic show. And as is usually said, be sure and get your popcorn.
CABALLERO: It’s going to be a great event for Canadians and for Casino Rama and Ontario as well. We’re just very excited and very anxious to fight on November 21st. And you’ll see me win my second belt in 122‑pound division.