Steve Molitor is looking for more than just a victory when he faces his one-time sparring partner Sébastien Gauthier in the ring.
The Toronto fighter wants the kind of decisive, clear-cut win that will show the boxing world he is back in top form and hopes it will help get him another shot at a world title.
The two-time International Boxing Federation super-bantamweight champion (33-2) takes on Gauthier (21-2) in a 10-round bout on Saturday night at the Pepsi Coliseum.
“It’s a statement fight,” Molitor said Thursday. “I’ve got to go out there and put on a devastating, dominating performance to get some of these champions to say, ‘Let’s give him a title shot.’” The champions in question would be the WBO’s Jorge Arce and WBC champ Toshiaki Nishioka, who is rated the top 122-pound fighter in the world by The Ring magazine. Molitor is rated seventh.
Molitor has held the IBF title twice, from 2006 until a loss to Celestino Caballero in 2008, and again in 2010 when he posted a 12-round decision over Takalani Ndlovu in Rama, Ont.
However, he handed the belt to Ndlovu in a rematch in March in South Africa.
Much has changed in Molitor’s world in the last year, as he signed with the major U.S. promoter Top Rank and dropped trainer Chris Johnson in favour of Toronto-based Billy Martin.
He admits he wasn’t at his best in South Africa, distracted by the impending birth of his daughter who came two days after he got back, and from “maybe taking [Ndlovu]lightly.” It was the third bout between the two, and Molitor won the first two.
In Quebec City, he will be the “away” fighter again when he faces St. Jerome, Que., native Gauthier.
“And when I go into the ring in my Maple Leafs jersey, I’ll know I’m not at home,” he joked.
He and Gauthier were like old pals at a pre-fight news conference, putting their arms around each other and smiling after posing for their traditional face-to-face photos.
Gauthier served as a sparring partner as Molitor prepared for what would be a majority decision win over Jason Booth in England last year. And the two used to train at the same InterBox gym in Montreal, during a short spell when Molitor was trained by Stephan Larouche.
“We go back to amateur days, he’s a good kid,” said Molitor. “But I’m ready for him.”
Gauthier, 29, has not faced the same level of competition as the 31-year-old Molitor, but still feels he can upset The Canadian Kid.
“I know how good he can be, but I don’t think what he does in sparring he can do in a fight,” he said. “He gets more careful.
“I won’t say he’s done, but he switched trainer because he wanted to be closer to his family. I think he’s in a happy place. The suffering might be over for him. Hopefully, I’ll make him realize that during the fight. When you see a guy switch trainers during training camp it’s never a good sign. There’s something wrong there, and I’ll try to catch up to it.”
The bout is billed as a clash of styles. Gauthier often moves forward to put on pressure while Molitor is known for his quick movement and counterpunching ability. Molitor has only 12 knockouts in his 33 wins, while Gauthier has stopped 13 of 21.
They have one common opponent. Molitor stopped Feliciano Dario Azuaga Ledesma in the fifth round in 2009, nearly a year after Gauthier took him out in two.
It is one of three interesting bouts on the undercard of a main event that pits Montreal’s Lucian Bute (29-0) against Jamaican challenger Glen Johnson for the IBF super-middleweight title.
The co-feature has Pier-Olivier Côté (17-0) in a tough 12-round light welterweight bout against Jorge Luis Teron (25-2-1) of New York for the minor IBF intercontinental title.
Côté, who was born in Colombia and adopted as a baby by a Quebec City family, is a crowd-pleasing scrapper who likes to set up a big right-hand knockout punch.
That’s one reason the U.S. specialty channel Showtime added him to the televised part of the show with the Bute fight.
The Côté camp admits Teron is a big step up in the quality of opponent he’s faced so far. The six-foot Teron has a 10-inch reach advantage over 5-foot-8 Côté.
“It’s the biggest challenge of my career,” said 27-year-old Côté. “He has more experience, but that doesn’t give him more speed or a harder punch. It won’t give him the victory.
“We watched video. We saw him stopped in the third round by a guy my size [Brandon Rios] Mike Tyson fought giants and knocked them out.”
They also have a common opponent. Teron took out Michael Lozada in six rounds in 2008, while Côté stopped Lozada in the first in March.
Since then, Côté’s been on the road, posting wins over Aris Ambriz in Las Vegas in May and scoring an eight-round decision over Pedro Navarrete on a Bute undercard in Romania in July.
Côté has only been in a 10-round fight once and needed all 10 to defeat Jason Hayward for the Canadian title in 2009. Teron has been in six 10-rounders and will be the favourite against Côté.
“We know he’s got a very good right hand that we’re not planning on letting him use,” said Teron, who is trained by veteran Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, the former light heavyweight champion. “It’ll be exciting. I’ll use my natural [height]advantage, but I will be aggressive, so there will be some fireworks.”
Another fight of note has Allan Green (30-3), once a highly regarded super-middleweight contender, against Sébastien Demers (31-4) of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.
Demers lost a bid for the IBF middleweight belt to Arthur Abraham in 2007. He’s been in a slump, losing early in his last two bouts to Brian Vera and Renan St-Juste.
Quebec City-area welterweight Kevin Bizier (15-0) is also on the card against Christian Bladt (38-12-2) of Denmark.