Molitor-Ndlovu bout headed overseas
Junior featherweight titlist Steve Molitor will still meet mandatory challenger Takalani Ndlovu for the third time, but instead of the fight taking place March 19 in his home country of Canada as originally planned, Molitor likely is headed for Ndlovu's turf in South Africa on a date to be determined.
South African promoter Branco Milenkovic won Tuesday's purse bid to promote the fight with a winning offer of $320,000 to easily beat the offer of $227,500 made by Top Rank, Molitor's promoter. Under IBF rules, the bout is due by April 18 and with Milenkovic now in control of the promotion, it is likely to happen in South Africa.
That is a significant change in plans.
In late November, not long after Top Rank signed the Ontario-based Molitor, who is known as "The Canadian Kid," it won the initial purse bid for the fight with an offer of $215,000. That easily beat Milenkovic, the only other bidder, who bid $154,240.
Top Rank had worked out a deal with Canadian promoter InterBox and Showtime to have Molitor-Ndlovu III televised on the undercard of Lucian Bute's super middleweight title defense against Brian Magee at the Bell Centre in Montreal on March 19.
However, the date of the fight fell just outside the IBF's rule saying that a fight has to take place within 90 days of the purse bid. The IBF will often be a bit flexible with the date for a television and venue considerations, but Milenkovic complained. So the IBF invalidated Top Rank's winning bid and ordered a new auction, which took place Tuesday.
While Molitor (33-1, 12 KOs) would have liked to have the fight in Canada and in front of an American television audience, manager Cameron Dunkin said they were happy with the outcome because it will add $78,750 to Molitor's purse.
With the split 75 percent in favor of the titleholder and 25 percent for the challenger, Molitor was due $161,250 under the old bid. Now he will make $240,000. Ndlovu (31-6, 18 KOs) is due $80,000.
"He's getting $240,000, so it's really good money for him," Dunkin said. "When I called Steve, I said, 'Look, we lost the purse bid.' He said, 'Oh, man.' But then I said, 'You got another ($78) grand,' so he was really excited about that.
"He said, 'I don't care where I fight this guy. I'll go down there and kick his ass.' He said he just has to beat him again and then we have big plans for him after this fight."
Molitor has twice defeated Ndlovu, but is being forced to fight him again. If he didn't, the IBF would strip him of his belt.
In the first defense of his first title reign, Molitor scored a ninth-round knockout of Ndlovu in 2007. In March 2010, Molitor won a clear decision against him to win back the vacant belt. Both of those fights took place in Ontario.
"Molitor is loving this," Top Rank's Carl Moretti said. "He gets more money to fight a guy he already beat twice, but I was shocked by the purse bid results because I didn't think the South African marketplace would bear that kind of money for an Ndlovu fight against a guy who already beat him twice. He lost a unanimous decision and got stopped. So I didn't think this would be something they would really push for down there.
"That's why it's shocking, especially to lose by that kind of money. He lost a unanimous decision and got stopped. I don't see why the big push. That's why it's shocking, especially to lose by almost $100,000."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.