Molitor set to defend title in South Africa
Looks like the Canadian Kid is finally headed to South Africa.
Tuesday afternoon ESPN's Dan Rafael reported that Steve Molitor's new promoter, Top Rank, lost a purse bid to South African promoter Branco Milenkovic for the right to promote Molitor's mandatory title defence against Takalani Ndlovu.
That means the third -- and hopefully final -- installment of the Molitor-Ndlovu series will likely take place in South Africa, even though it had tentatively been scheduled for March 19 in Montreal on the undercard of Lucian Bute's Showtime debut.
The bout is also the latest chapter in a long history between Molitor, a Sarnia native who lives and trains in Mississauga, and South Africa.
If you followed Molitor's initial ascent to the IBF 122-pound crown then you'll remember his first title shot was scheduled for August 2006, when he was slated to face Gabula Vabaza in Johannesburg. Molitor and his team even traveled to South Africa for final pre-fight preparations before learning that Vabaza had failed a pre-fight blood screening.
That bout was canceled and Vabaza would never fight again.
Less than a year later, after jetting to England to finally claim the IBF title, Molitor debuted at Casino Rama, systematically dismantling Ndlovu over nine rounds before knocking him out to retain his belt.
After dropping his title to Celestino Caballero and working his way back to the top of the IBF's junior featherweight rankings, Molitor and Ndlovu at Rama once again in March 2010, with Molitor pounding out a unanimous 12-round decision.
That win should have freed Molitor to move on to bigger challenges, but the stubborn Ndlovu wouldn't go away. While Molitor defended his belt successfully in England Ndlovu quietly won a title eliminator and positioned himself once again as Molitor's manadatory challenger.
After lopsided results in the first two bouts between Molitor and Ndlovu, local interest in a third fight was understandably low. But Ndlovu was a mandatory challenger, so Molitor had to face him or vacate the crown.
Enter Cameron Dunkin, the U.S.-based manager tasked with finding a home in North America for the bout, lest Ndlovu's promoters put up the promotional fees, move the show to to South Africa and force the champ to fight in the challenger's hometown.
Placing the bout on the Bute undercard seemed like a reasonable solution, but that deal was contingent on Top Rank winning the purse bid.
Which it didn't.
Which means Molitor now faces the scenario his team had hoped to avoid -- a second-straight title defence overseas against a hometown fighter.
No fighter wants venture into another man's lair if he can avoid it, but neither can any fighter deny that cash rules everything.
For most of his 10 bouts at Casino Rama Molitor pocketed roughly $100,000, but according to ESPN's report he will gross $240,000 for the upcoming Ndlovu bout.
More than anything, boxing is a business and Molitor understands that.
And right now business is good.
Even in South Africa.
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