Leading up to Saturday’s co-feature fight at Rumble at Rama X, Steve ‘The Canadian Kid’ Molitor admitted he knew virtually nothing about his opponent, Jose Saez of Argentina. Saez was a late replacement for fellow countryman, Sergio Javier Escobar, and on paper he appeared to be exactly what a journeyman fighter with a mediocre record in the twilight of his career was supposed to be — an easy win.
He proved to be anything but.
Saez, 35, may have been thoroughly out-boxed by Molitor, who claimed a unanimous decision victory, but he showed off an impressive chin, good conditioning, and enough juice in his punch to floor a stunned Molitor in the fifth round, just as ‘The Canadian Kid’ was gaining confidence in the aggressive game-plan mapped out by trainer Chris Johnson.
The punch that floored Molitor seemed to irritate and offend, more than it hurt him.
“It’s embarrassing,” the humbled fighter said at the post-fight press conference at Casino Rama. “After 21 years of boxing you don’t want to see something like that happen, especially being a perfectionist.”
“He hit me with a punch, I wasn’t hurt I was just a little off-balanced (but) it was a legit knockdown,” he admitted.
“This guy was tougher than we expected, tougher than I expected.”
Promoter and president of Orion Sports, Allan Tremblay, admitted that despite the popular perception that Saez was going to be a cakewalk, he was bracing for a tough battle.
“Saez was tougher than a lot of people realized but it didn’t surprise me, he was in training for a regional title down in Argentina, so he already had four weeks of training before he started training for this one. He was not a ‘last minute substitute’ as he appeared when we changed the opponent. So he came in as the real deal. “
Despite the knockdown in the fifth, and his inability to finish Saez after having him trapped on the ropes numerous times, ‘The Canadian Kid’ is still pleased with the final result.
“Usually I let people come towards me and I counterpunch them, but this time I had to be the hunter and I was and I pretty much won every round and as the fight wore on I felt more confident in my punches.”
“It wasn’t my best performance but it wasn’t my worst performance.”
Most importantly, it was another win for Molitor, 31-1-0 (12 KOs), who continues towards another likely world title shot after retaining his IBF number 2 ranking.
He could face South African champ Takalani Ndlovu in March at Rama.
“We will be world champions again,” Johnson vowed. “And now he have nothing to do but rise, this performance helps him, makes him hungrier and it will bring him to a world title.”
Speaking of world titles, headliner, Marvin “Marvelous” Sonsona, had to give up his WBO Junior Bantamweight crown after failing to make the 115-pound weight limit.
He went on to struggle towards an unimpressive draw against Mexico’s Alejandro “Payasito” Hernandez (22-7-1, 11 KO’s), who took advantage of his opponent’s seemingly weakened condition to take a valiant shot at claiming the now-vacant title.
Had Hernandez won, he would have won the title, but fell short on the judges scorecards. The draw salvages Sonsona’s undefeated record, but more significantly, made it clear that he’s fighting in the wrong division.
After the bout, Tremblay announced that Sonsona would from now on be campaigning at 122 pounds after coming in almost 3 pounds overweight.
“He’s a young boy growing into a man, and when he had trouble making the weight we collectively sat down and made the decision that we would relinquish the title rather than force him into a situation that he would have dehydrated himself to the point where (it would have been dangerous). God only knows what would have been if he would have dried out to make that weight. “
“His future is very important and there are plans for him way beyond tonight, ” Tremblay stressed. “He’s a tremendous young talent and he’s going to be fine, so we did not lose any title on the scale, we never got to that point, we voluntarily gave it up.”
Undercard Action and Photo Gallery:
- Ciso “Kid Terrible” Morales (13-0, 8 KO’s) of the Philippines struggled to a majority decision win over Mexican Miguel “Ranita” Gonzalez (10-1, 4 KO’s) in an eight round Junior Featherweight fight. It was announced after the fight that Morales would be moving down in weight for his next battle.
- Canadian heavyweight champion Greg “The Steel Pole” Kielsa (10-0, 5 KO’s) preserved his undefeated record against a tougher than expected opponent in Jason “Hoag” Bergman (9-8, 6 KO’s) of Adah, Pennsylvania. Kielsa tasted Bergman’s power a few times, but used his jab and superior skill to win the six round contest.
- Hamilton’s Justin Fountain (6-1-2, 2 KO’s) and London’s Frankie “Valentine” Abbiw (4-3, 1 KO) fought to a draw in a rematch of their first fight, which Fountain won by unanimous decision. After four rounds, the judges couldn’t declare a winner, but the crowd could — booing the decision, as most felt Fountain did enough for the ‘W’.
- Felix “El Destino” Mercedes (3-0, 2 KO’s) of Buffalo, NY scored a TKO over Todd Furler (0-1) of Calgary at :59 seconds of the third round. The fight was scheduled to go four.
Morales vs. Gonzalez
Kielsa vs. Bergman