“The best is yet to come.” It’s an often-used proclamation that has been uttered for years in the sporting arena. Some competitors make good on the guarantee while others have failed to live up to the six-word promise.
When WBA super bantamweight champion Celestino Caballero uttered the popular phrase to ringside media after his 12-round victory by unanimous decision against Jorge Lacierva in Hidalgo, Texas, in August of 2007, one had to wonder if Caballero would get the chance to ever fulfill that pledge, which also happens to be the title of a song sung by Frank Sinatra in the 1960s.
Fast-forward to more than a year after beating Lacierva and Caballero finds himself in the biggest fight of his career. Caballero, co-promoted by Sycuan Ringside Promotions and Seminole Warriors Boxing, aims to unify titles against Canadian Steve Molitor, the IBF 122-pound champion, on Friday, Nov. 21, from Casino Rama, in Rama, Ontario, Canada, live on ShoBox: The New Generation on Showtime 11 p.m. ET/PT.
The fight will be the first unification event in Canadian history.
“I meant it when I said, ‘The best is yet to come,’ ” said Caballero, who finds himself in his first unification fight. “I have the chance to show the world how good I really am and the only way to do that is by fighting the best.
“This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often. Fighting for a world title is great, but it doesn’t compare to a unification fight. Two champions, two belts and only one will walk out as champion. It’s the best thing in boxing.”
Since winning his title against Somsak Sithchatchawal in 2006, Caballero has rallied off five successful defenses, three coming by way of knockout. With each win, the most recent a first-round destruction of Elvis Mejia in September, Caballero gets that’s much closer to his end-goal and coming through on his brash statement.
“The 122-pound division is loaded with great talent,” said Caballero, who has boxing in his veins as both his father and grandfather boxed as amateurs. “You need big wins to keep up and this is the biggest fight in the division since Vazquez-Marquez III.”
Caballero, who is married and has two girls and a boy, by far is the most feared boxer in one of the most competitive divisions in the sport. This makes it tough for the Panamanian-born Caballero to build his brand.
“Not a lot of boxers come out and say, ‘I want Celestino,’ ” said Caballero, who at nearly six-feet tall poses incredible match-up problems for opponents. “I’m a disciplined fighter that doesn’t make mistakes. There is a reason why I’ve won 11 straight fights.
“Molitor will have a lot of trouble with me. I have a difficult style to decipher. He’ll find out in the first round. While he is struggling to adjust, I’ll be figuring out what he wants to do.
“To me, it’s all about fighting the best. I’m not a young-up-and-comer anymore. I’ve been through the talented prospect route before. It’s all about winning titles now.”
With a win over Molitor in front of a Showtime viewing audience on Nov. 21, Caballero will come one step closer to fulfilling his promise and realizing his dream: “The best is yet to come,” or in Caballero’s native Spanish: “El mejor no ha venido.”