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SHOWTIME SPORTS MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 11, 2008
Undefeated International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion Steve "The Canadian Kid" Molitor and World Boxing Association (WBA) super bantamweight champion Celestino Caballero will battle to unify the titles on Friday, Nov. 21, from Casino Rama, in Ontario, Canada, live on ShoBox: The New Generation (SHOWTIME 11 p.m. ET/PT).
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."
ALLAN 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 of all and foremost of all, Casino Rama, 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's to show how far boxing has come and in Ontario, specifically, with a big-time player with Casino Rama on board.
I'd also like to introduce James Bardine, who is the Steve's manager, who has been for many, many years, is here today. Stephan Larouche, his trainer in Montreal from the Interbox Group who is working his second fight now with Steve and is preparing him for this ultimate challenge.
And last but not least the "The Canadian Kid" himself and what it's all about, our champion, Steve Molitor.
And before I turn it over to them for a comment, I'd like Jeff to comment, James to comment and Stephan to comment before Steve speaks.
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.
So having said all of that, Jeff, if you would make a comment and we'll go down the line.
JEFF CRAIK: It was a little over a year and a half ago when you and I got the green light for the first rumble a little more than a month away. And you and I had a bit of a hint to build boxing in Ontario, to invest in and build.
And 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, nobody more so than Steve himself. I can't tell you how proud I am to be hosting this in 10 short days.
JAMES BARDINE: I'd like to say we're delighted that both young boxers can get together in such an important fight, especially 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, as you said, Allan, delighted. And a great opportunity for both. And all questions will be answered on the 21st.
STEPHAN LAROUCHE: Hi everybody. 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 5'10" and 6'2".
He's been doing really good. I think he will answer the task promptly on the 21st. He will surprise people. And he will prove that he will belong -- that he belongs and shall be recognized for one of the best 122 pounders around the world. So we're looking forward to being there, putting on a good show and enjoy the moment of that first historic fight in Ontario.
STEVE MOLITOR: How is it going, everybody? Like Stephan said, we have a big task in front of us. This guy's a good fighter. He's 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 and trained very, very hard. And November 21st we're going to see who the 122-pound king is.
ROGELIO ESPINO: We're very excited to be in this unification title fight. Caballero is excited to be in this fight for the first time in his career, he's been in a unification title. We thank Molitor for making this fight happen. It takes two champions to make this work. And we're just very fortunate and happy that Team Caballero is in a unification fight.
CELESTINO CABALLERO: We've been training extremely hard in my native Panama. We've been eyeing this date November 21st for a long time now. 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.
Q. Steve, what's the biggest obstacle you think for you in this fight, fighting a guy like Caballero who is so lengthy and somewhat awkward? Is that a problem or anything you have to overcome? Have you fought guys similar to him in any way?
STEVE MOLITOR: It's definitely going to be an obstacle, 5'11", 122 pounder, it's unheard of. He's going to have a reach advantage. But with my hand and foot speed, and the sparring we've brought in to be prepared for Caballero and the obstacles we've overcome in sparring we'll be ready come November 21st.
Q. Steve and Stephan, you mentioned that Steve has done 150 rounds of sparring so far with a lot of big guys. Is there any danger in that, of overtraining?
STEPHAN LAROUCHE: Steve has always prepared between 140 to 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 pounds, six foot tall, six foot one. So I think he will come and he will not be overtrained. He'll be in tremendous shape.
Q. Celestino, I want to know how -- I know you have to weigh in Thursday night and again Friday morning. How is that going to affect your preparation for the fight?
CELESTINO CABALLERO: The two weigh-ins in two days is not really going to affect me because I'm usually on point on weight well before that time. So it's not really an issue.
The weight's never been an issue with me despite my tall frame and fighting at 122. So weighing in twice in two days, it's not an issue for me at all, because, like I said, 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.
Q. Steve, you mentioned that you sparred with guys that are a lot taller. Can you give us an idea how you plan to fight a tall guy? Do you try to work yourself inside and --
STEVE MOLITOR: I'm not here to let the cat out of the bag. For stuff like that you've got to wait until November 21st.
Q. Steve, what does it represent for you to, what would it represent to you to hold two belts as opposed to the IBF one?
STEVE MOLITOR: Just 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 that I've always wanted, to be the best of the best. And when you have two champions fighting, that's what you're going to get is the best of the best. And that's what I've been training for. And come November 21st my dream's going to come true.
Q. Do you have plans to go after Lopez or --
STEVE MOLITOR: Right now my focus is strictly on Celestino Caballero November 21st. I don't have any plans past that. My mind is for November 21st and that's it.
Q. And just for Stephan, I wonder, what has it been like for you, personally, first training Lucian for his IBF title fight and then training Steve? Has this been a hectic schedule for you?
STEPHAN LAROUCHE: Yes, it was a good schedule. But when you're raised with boxing and 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 October 24th with Lucian. And then we've been spending, Steve and I, 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. So it was a good atmosphere.
Q. Steve, you certainly have fought a number of quality opponents in the recent years. Where do you put Celestino Caballero at this point in your career? Would you say that he's your toughest fight to date.
STEVE MOLITOR: By far. Like I said earlier, 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.
Q. I know you don't want to give up the game plan, and I understand that. Obviously you are an extremely stylish southpaw, great conditioning, you rely on a high work rate. But you also have had limited power. I don't know if there's anything at this point that you're working on working on that power, but do you see it a case where it's going to be basically your superior hand and you mentioned earlier foot speed and basically high work rate that's going to take you to victory in this fight?
STEVE MOLITOR: You know, just the fact that 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 November 21st, it's going to be on us, whatever we want to do, we're just going to do it.
Q. This is for you and Stephan. Stephan, we saw you at the Lucian Bute fight, and Steve was there as well. I was watching a lot of the tapes and saw Chris Johnson in your corner. Number one is what made you decide, Steve, you Allan and your team, to go to Stephan? Number two, is, Stephan, what you bring to the table for Steve and what you see that there might be things he can improve upon.
STEVE MOLITOR: Number one, when we had to leave Chris, I told Allan and James there's only one man for the job. And there was a man I worked with prior to coming here briefly for a bit, and that was Stephan Larouche. I said if Chris is out, then the only man I can have in my corner is Stephan Larouche on my behalf.
Q. Was there any particular reason why you and Chris parted ways.
STEVE MOLITOR: Not to discuss today.
Q. Stephan, any comments on this and things that you saw in Steve that you thought you could improve upon?
STEPHAN LAROUCHE: I've been 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.
Q. Celestino, Steve says he'll be your toughest opponent. Do you see Steve Molitor being as your toughest opponent to date.
CELESTINO 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.
Q. Basically you're saying that you're treating this fight here like any other fight, but all your opponents are tough, you don't rate or regard any other fighter over one or another, you treat them the same; is that true?
CELESTINO CABALLERO: Yes.
Q. Steve, even though 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.
STEVE MOLITOR: I'm a very tactical boxer. Good boxing skills. Like most southpaws out there. We're working on special things for this fight to give to the opponent, to Caballero. But I'm a boxer like Pernell Whitaker.
Q. There have been questions about your power. I've seen you display power in a number of different fights. You have a number of knockouts and TKOs in recent fights against some good fighters in Ndlovu, South African fighter Michael Hunter, you went to England to fight him and a number of others. Can you comment on that because people will see your record 28-0 and 11 knockouts and question your power --
STEVE 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, hangs on, 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.
Q. Stephan, do you want to comment a little more on Steve's style and I know you don't want to give away a game plan, but generally what kind of fighter to expect and what improvements people will even see in this fight.
STEPHAN 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 you mentioned, he hasn't been shown in the United States right now.
And he's got those -- he was a good fighter in the beginning of his career. And he gets looser and looser, be able to develop that power and we'll surprise some people. In the very near future he'll be recognized as the best kept secret in boxing.
Q. Celestino, you're going into the home area of Steve coming from Panama, of course, and you're going to be fighting in Ontario and a lot of the fans are going to be rooting for Steve. Can you tell us about how it's going to be for you defending your belt and fighting this unification in Ontario, Canada?
CELESTINO CABALLERO: It doesn't really affect me going to Canada to fight in this fight. 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 and 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, per se, in this fight at all.
Q. Celestino, you've been fighting some very top level fighters over the last few years. Ponce DeLeon and Valbuena. You went to Thailand to fight Singchachawan. And you fought guys like Lacierva and recently Parra. Do you consider Steve Molitor to be the best fighter you were fighting or in the class of these other great fighters that you fought recently.
CELESTINO 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 Lucier fight, has prepared me to compete at a high level, keeps me competing at a high level.
As far as Steve Molitor being the best that I've seen in the ring, like I said before, I respect every opponent no matter their record, no matter their title belts. I approach each opponent the same way.
Q. Steve, I know you usually do not like to make predictions. However, do you make a prediction on this fight?
STEVE 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 November 21st I'm going to give everything I have and leave nothing inside the ring. I'm going to give everything I have come November 21st.
Q. Steve, Caballero said he wants you to fight him and not run, which he's seen you in the past fight.
STEVE MOLITOR: Can he run? Can he come to the track and watch me run?
Q. Caballero, how do you feel physically and mentally for your fight? And a prediction question, can you see it ending in knockout or unanimous decision in your favor? The first part was how do you feel physically and mentally.
CELESTINO 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 conditions 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.
And the second part of the question, do I feel a knockout can come or do I feel I have to win a decision? It's going to have 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, though.
Q. Steve, do you feel tremendous pressure at all having to defend your IBF Junior Feather Weight world title against another world champion in your country of Canada.
STEVE 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.
Q. Steve, seeing that you're going to be seen by way more U.S. fans than have ever seen you before, and the fact that 122-pound division is so deep with good fighters like Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez and those kind of guys, are you looking to make a statement in this fight.
STEVE MOLITOR: I'm looking, first and foremost, I'm looking to fight my fight and to get the job done November 21st. And 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. And I won't disappoint come November 21st.
Q. And a personal question, it's been a few years, but it's pretty much been well documented what happened with your brother and stuff. And I'm just wondering, how trying was that on you as far as being able to focus and I mean your record indicates that you focus fine? But what kind of tool did that take on you being --
STEVE MOLITOR: It's a tremendous tool. 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 November 21st 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.
Q. You're getting inspiration there from your brother all the time, then.
STEVE MOLITOR: Yeah, all the time.
Q. How much do you think about that?
STEVE MOLITOR: Not too much. Like you said, it was a long time ago. That was 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's made me, it's part of my life and it's made me who I am today.
Q. As far as making a statement about winning, do you see yourself after this fight with a good win calling out Vasquez or Marquez or any of the top 122-pounders?
STEVE 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.
Q. Celestino, you've fought on SHOWTIME before when you retained your title in Heldago, Texas against Serbia, at the end of the interview you pulled the microphone away from them and said in English the best is yet to come. Do you still feel that the best is yet to come as far as your career goes?
CELESTINO 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's fights like the fight that I have with Steve 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.
And I'm confident that you guys haven't seen the best yet. And I will only get better through time and through tougher competition. That's when you know that you're improving from fight to fight, is that you're showcasing 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.
Q. Steve, you went to England to win your title two years ago. I wonder, what was that experience for you and how difficult was it to go over there and win?
STEVE 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 play 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.
Q. 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?
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.
CELESTINO 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. Maybe not to that extent, but maybe making it a little personal.
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 November 21st, and that's when I guess we'll do the most talking after we win.
Q. Allan and James, if Steve were to win this fight, will he continue fighting in Canada, or will he move on to the U.S.?
ALLAN 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. And 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. And because of that they'll always have first right of refusal on that and they'll have to step up financially if the situation dictates it, but that's where we are.
ALLAN 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 also 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.
JAMES BARDINE: Nothing to add. I think Allan has answered that last question. And, yeah, we're looking forward to the fight. Hopefully it's a great one. And of course we're wanting Steve to bring it home.
CELESTINO 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.
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