Jason Booth finally gets a crack at redemption after four years of rebuilding his career; a shot at a world title at Rainton Meadows Arena in Houghton-le-Spring, England on Saturday that has been a long time coming.
Booth’s career has been up and down somewhat. He started his pro career in June, 1996 at Flyweight, and was living up to the hype at 16-1 with 8 KO’s he had already secured himself the British and the Commonwealth Title.
Although two fights earlier, he had travelled to France to challenge for the European title against David Guerault and lost over twelve, still no real disgrace for Booth as he was still young and learning his craft.
He defended these titles three times. One of those defences against a young Ian Napa, but with the prospect of the European belt on the horizon he relinquished those titles and fought Alexander Makhmutov who 35-6 at the time. Booth lost a unanimous decision over 12 rounds.
Nearly exactly one year and one fight later, Booth again challenged for the European belt, travelling to France to face Mimoun Chent. He lost on a technical decision after some nasty cuts opened over Chent’s eyes, and again Booth was denied the European title.
20th September 2003, Booth was once again in the front running for a title shot, this time the IBO super flyweight crown against South African Lunga Ntontela.
The fight was a good scrap and Booth boxed well, although being floored in the seventh round, he nicked it on a split decision. He was now a world champion, all the graft in the gym had paid off and a dream had been realised.
However, on his second defense of the title against former European champion Damaen Kelly, Booth lost the decision over 12 rounds.
Booth would walk away from the sport for nearly two years. Disillusioned with the sport or himself, either way, it hit Booth hard and he reportedly took to the nightlife. Booth himself admits he sank quite low and was in a very dark place heading for an early grave.
Booth did pull himself out of that hole, and set about trying to re-establish himself as the very talented boxer he was. Time had passed and obviously, what Booth had been doing had taken its toll.
But in November, 2006 he was back with a win and positioned himself…once again…into the mix.
Booth moved up to Bantamweight and stepped in against old foe Ian Napa for the British title. This rematch saw Napa gain revenge for his 2000 loss, taking Booth the distance.
Booth’s next fight was for the vacant Commonwealth title against Matthew Edmonds who had a record of 5-1 and never stood that much of a chance with Booth’s raw talent, experience and timing. Edmonds was stopped in the ninth and Booth was now a two-weight Commonwealth champion.
Booth had several more fights at the weight and then moved up again by April, 2009 to Super-Bantamweight, winning the vacant British title against Mark Moran. The fight was stopped on cuts sustained to Moran’s eye after a clash of heads, although Booth had been dominating.
Follow that triumph with three more wins over the trio of Rocky Dean, Michael Hunter and Matthew Marsh and that’s eight straight victories since his loss to Napa, four defences of the British belt and a Commonwealth title thrown in for good measure.
Booth is now a three weight Commonwealth champ, and he has a IBF title shot against Canadian Steve Molitor.
Molitor 32-1, 12 coming early, is a very talented fighter also, has a good amateur background and has faced some great fighters so far in his career, non-comparable to Booth’s opponents, well, apart from one.
He won the IBF title off common ground opponent Michael Hunter; Molitor stopped Hunter in five rounds, Booth also stopped Hunter over the same distance. There goes my comparison.
After that clash, Molitor fought Takalani Ndlovu twice, Fashan 3K Battery, Ricardo Castillo, Fernando Beltran Jr and Celestino Caballero. Theses were good hard fights, with very seasoned guys, and he won every bout except the Caballero contest, in which Molitor was knocked out.
Booth has never been knocked out but then Booth has not fought Caballero! Still there are lessons to be learned in every win or loss and Molitor, I am sure, has plenty of tricks up his sleeve.
The fact that the fight will be in the U.K will not mean anything to Molitor who has been here before when he first won the IBF title off Hunter.
Booth has some remarkable skills, is an intelligent fighter, great inside fighting and great outside timing when he wants to catch you on the counter, underrated footwork, a good chin, and a whole heap of desire. Especially seeing as Molitor beat Booth’s brother Nicky back in 2002.
Molitor is just that step up from Booth; he has fought better opponents, has a wealth of experience and is definitely the fresher of the two. He is equally matched in skill sets, if not slightly better technically, and he probably sits better at the weight.
The writing on the wall spells defeat for Booth over the distance, but as Ricky Burns proved last week, fighting the fight of his life, actions speak louder than words.
The critics said Burns would crumble…I thought he would…he almost did…but he hung on in there, fought intelligently and got the win.
Upsets happen, it could happen again and should it happen, I cannot think of anyone more deserving.