By Lem Satterfield
The manager of Canadian southpaw IBF super bantamweight king, Steve Molitor, Cameron Dunkin, fully expects that his fighter will win Saturday night's defense against challenger Takalani Ndlovu of Johannesburg, South Africa, whom Molitor is facing for the third time before Ndlovu's hometown fans at Nasrec Indoor Arena in Johannesburg.
But that doesn't mean that Dunkin doesn't have his concerns, many of which Dunkin spoke about with BoxingScene.com in this Q&A.
In January, the IBF's purse bid for the fight was won by Ndlovu's South African promoter, Branco Sports Productions, whose namesake, Branco Milenkovic, put in a bid of $320,000, while Molitor's promoter, Top Rank Promotions, bid $227,500.
The previous bid was held in November, being won by Top Rank with $215,000 against Branco Sports Productions' losing bid of $154,240.
Molitor-Ndlovu III was originally scheduled to take place on this past Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, but now they will meet for the third time on Saturday.
Molitor-Ndlovu III was originally an under card for Saturday night's Showtime-televised main event featuring 31-year-old Romanian-born, southpaw IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute (28-0, 23 KOs) of Canada and scoring his 10th-round knockout over 35-year-old Brian Magee (34-4-1, 24 KOs) of Northern Ireland.
The March 19 date fell beyond the IBF's 90-day rule, and a new purse bid was scheduled, which gave the victorious Branco Sports Productions the option of taking the fight to South Africa.
A 30-year-old two-time titlist, Molitor (33-1, 12 KOs) has won five consecutive fights since being dethroned as IBF king by fourth-round knockout against Celestino Caballero (34-3, 23 KOs) of Panama City, Panama in November of 2008.
Molitor regained the crown with a March, unanimous decision over the 33-year-old Ndlovu (31-6, 18 KOs), and retained it with September's majority decision over England's Jason Booth.
The then-unbeaten Molitor had first gained the vacant IBF crown with a November, 2006, fifth-round stoppage of then-unbeaten Michael Hunter (29-2-1, 13 KOs) before making the first defense of that belt with a July of 2007, ninth-round knockout of Nodlovu.
Molitor made the fifth straight defense of that belt, including two knockouts, with that stoppage of Ndlovu, who is coming off of September's split-decision victory over Jeffrey Mathebula (24-3-2, 14 KOs).
BoxingScene.com: What is on the line for Steven Molitor against Takalani Ndlovu?
Cameron Dunkin: Everything is on the line for him. This means everything. I mean he's got to win. I mean, I know that it's a guy that he's beaten twice, but the last fight was very close.
And it was in Canada. I mean, both of their previous fights were in Canada, and Steve Molitor stopped him the first time. The second time, that was a very close fight. Steve knows that he can't do that down in South Africa. I mean, there is a reason that Ndlovu's promoters put up all of this money to get the fight and to bring Steve down there.
Steve's going to have a lot of things going against him down there, and he's going to have to fight his a** off.
BoxingScene.com: Do you have concerns about the officiating?
Cameron Dunkin: I know the officials. There is one from Canada. There is one from the United States. There is one from South Africa. I think that the officiating will be fair.
BoxingScene.com: What about the referee?
Cameron Dunkin: The referee is a good referee. I'm not worried about that.
BoxingScene.com: What are your concerns?
Cameron Dunkin: I'm worried about, you know, the crowd and the response and the influences, you know? It's just when you're fighting in another guy's back yard like that. Ndlovu may not have to do as much as you do to show that he's in the fight. So, you know, Steve knows that he can't go in there and just go easy.
Steve knows that he can beat him, but it's just that he can't win that way. He's got to win in dominating fashion and he knows that. Steve knows what's on the line. He's got to dominate this guy, and he's got to pound him. It's the only way that he's going to get a decision. And it's not going to be that the officials are corrupt.
It's just that that's the way that it's going to be at home. They're going to give an edge to the hometown guy and everything that that guy does. Ndlovu won't have to do as much as my guy does.
But my guy is a big boy, and he understands that and Steve knows what he's in for, and Steve says that he's going to do everything in his power to stop this guy again.
And hopefully there's no judges, and there's going to be no question that Steve won the fight. That's what we're going to try and do.
BoxingScene.com: Where and when did Steve Molitor begin his training?
Cameron Dunkin: Well, that's been the problem because we were messing around with the purse bids, and going back and forth and then it was what was going to be the date. And, you know, Top Rank, their attorney, Dan Pancheri, and, [Top Rank Vice President] Carl Moretti, they sort of got into it with the enforcement of the rules of the IBF and the purse bid.
Dan Pancheri got into it with Branco, the other promoter from South Africa, and we just wanted to make sure that we had the time and the information that would allow us to get ready to fight.
BoxingScene.com: How did that manifest itself?
Cameron Dunkin: Well, you know, there wasn't a lot of information coming out. So, you know, Steve had only a short a time to prepare and to get ready. Just a few weeks. Although he was training and taking care of himself, pretty much, just waiting on a date, the second that he got the date, he was able to put it into full force.
Then he was able to put everything to training and sparring and going as hard as he could. It hasn't been the greatest camp in the world because of the short period of time to prepare. But he knew that it was coming, and he was taking care of himself. So he's going to be in good shape, and he knows that he's going to have to be aggressive and really fight this guy.
BoxingScene.com: Where was he training and with whom?
Cameron Dunkin: He was training in Ontario, Canada, Toronto, Ontario, right outside of Toronto. Where he always trains. And his trainer is Chris Johnson, and, he was a medalist from the Olympics for Canada years ago. Anyway, he had chris Johnson and they had several good sparring partners and they worked hard. It was just that they didn't have eight weeks to get ready.
You know, they had, you know, three weeks of knowing that when they were going to fight. But he stayed in shape and he went full force and he went 100 miles an hour. So Steve says that he's good, and he's already down there in South Africa and getting ready and getting accustomed to everything. And Steve's said, 'Just trust me, I'm going to get this thing done.'
So he knows what is at stake. So, you know, this is a big, big fight for him.
BoxingScene.com: What are the potential future bouts for Steve Molitor in victory?
Cameron Dunkin: Steve's been talked about maybe fighting [WBO superbantamweight king] Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., who was mentioned. [Former WBO and WBC bantamweight champion] Fernando Montiel has been mentioned. Also, there was discussion of Steve maybe going up to 126 and fighting [WBO featherweight titlist] Juan Manuel Lopez.
That was mentioned. There's a lot of fights for Steve there. There are a lot of great opportunities for him. But he's got to get buy this and he's got to retain his title for all of those things to happen for him.