European super bantawmeight champion Kiko Martinez has withdrawn from a scheduled September 22 bout in Belfast against rising star Carl Frampton due to injury, and has been replaced by former IBF titleholder Steve Molitor for the headline bout at Odyssey Arena.
Molitor (34-2, 12 KO) has not fought this year after going 1-1 in 2011, with a close loss to Takalani Ndlovu and a closer win over Sebastien Demers. The 32-year-old Canadian hasn't really been the same fighter since he was manhandled in late 2008 by Celestino Caballero, and though he's gone 6-1 since then, his wins have been of the mid-level variety, and he has not returned to the upper tier of the super bantamweight division.
Still, he makes for a good test for the 25-year-old Frampton, and isn't a step down from Martinez. If anything, he's the perfect replacement as far as level of opponent goes, and could even be considered at least a small step up in quality and danger. For one thing, he's a southpaw, while Spain's Martinez is an orthodox fighter.
Molitor says that he's "not hungry," but "starving," and that while he respects Frampton and his team for taking this fight, he's not going to allow the prospect to build a name off of his reputation.
Frampton (14-0, 9 KO) is building a legitimate reputation of his own to go along with the fiery support that Barry McGuigan has bestowed upon the young fighter, as he battles Scott Quigg and Rendall Munroe in the race to be known as the best super bantamweight in the United Kingdom. Earlier in his career, he was known for action, but Frampton made solid steps toward a more relaxed, confident, and career-lengthening style with his May 26 win over Raul Hirales (I mentioned after that recap that upon further thought and consideration, I was very impressed with Frampton), showing that he could take a fight as it came to him.
The undercard will feature a British and Commonwealth featherweight title fight between Lee Selby (13-1, 5 KO) and Martin Lindsay (19-1, 7 KO), as well junior welterweight Paul McCloskey (23-2, 12 KO) who is looking to get himself back in the game after a bad loss to DeMarcus Corley, along with several prospects.