Caballero outclasses Molitor in 4 rounds

Celestino Caballero stopped Canadian Steve Molitor 52 seconds into the fourth round to walk away with two belts Friday night in Rama, Ont.

Celestino Caballero is a man of his word.

The Panamanian boxer stopped Canadian Steve Molitor 52 seconds into the fourth round to walk away with two belts Friday night in Rama, Ont.

With legend and fellow countryman Roberto Duran watching at ringside, Celestino dismantled Molitor from the opening bell to earn a technical knockout at Casino Rama, near Orillia. 
Panama's Celestino Caballero, left, leaps in jubilation following his fourth-round TKO over Canada's Steve Molitor Friday night in Rama, Ont. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Caballero, who is the current World Boxing Association 122-pound champion, captured Molitor's International Boxing Federation belt during the unification bout in front of a sellout crowd.

"He was the better man," said Molitor. "I felt tight going in. He had a huge edge in reach and it was a huge advantage."

Prior to the fight, Caballero predicted his Canadian foe would not last past the sixth round. On Friday night, he made good on his promise in the biggest fight of his life.

"I told everyone I would break that baby face and I did," Caballero said through an interpreter.

Caballero (31-2, 22 knockouts) has won his last 12 bouts and has never been defeated outside of his native country.

Molitor (28-1, 11 knockouts), meanwhile, endured his first defeat as a pro.

The Panamanian took control immediately, chasing Molitor to the ropes and connecting on several combinations.

By the third round, Caballero showed his superiority by ripping unanswered shots to the head and body.

As the fourth round began, Caballero was daring Molitor to come at him. Using his four-inch height advantage, the five-foot-11 fighter knocked Molitor to the floor with a right uppercut and only the ropes held up the glassy-eyed Canadian.

"I am a rooster who can sing anywhere," said Caballero.

Caballero didn't let up, charging at Molitor before sending him to the canvas a final time with a combination that forced referee Luis Pabon of Puerto Rico to stop the fight.

Caballero dropped to his knees in jubilation.

"I worked hard for this fight," he said. "God helped me to this victory. I knew I almost had the KO. I saw his legs go so I worked hard to keep going. Molitor is not a warrior. He was a fine, great champion but only for the public."

Regardless of the stoppage, Stephane Larouche, Molitor's new trainer, had seen enough and threw in the towel.

"He was a bit frozen," said Larouche. "He couldn't do what he wanted to do.

"He tried to come back in the fight in the third round. He got caught by that uppercut near the end of the round and wasn't able to recuperate."

The end stunned the capacity crowd, which had been expecting better things from the resident of Mississauga, Ont.

Molitor won the junior featherweight title over Michael Hunter of Great Britain in November 2006 and had made five successful title defences — all at Casino Rama.

However, he proved no match for Caballero. 
Ring legend Roberto Duran celebrates with countryman and winner Celestino Caballero. ((Tom Casino/Showtime))

Molitor's best punch came in the first round, nailing Caballero with a straight left, but he managed little offence the rest of the way.

Molitor was boxing for the first time as a main event fighter in front of a U.S. audience, as cable network Showtime presented the bout.

"You can't win every fight," he said. I have a winner's mentality. You haven't heard the last of Steve Molitor.

"I'm going to take the mistakes I made and bring them into the gym and come back twice as strong."

The victory could lead to increased exposure for Caballero and even bigger paydays with bouts against the likes of Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, two fighters who have engaged in one of boxing's greatest trilogies ever over the past two years.

"I'll fight anyone who has the guts to fight me," boasted Caballero.

With files from the Canadian Press