Career Record, History & Profile for Celestino Caballero
Celestino Caballero, 34-2 (23 KOs), is one of the best fighters in the game. After a nice run at 122 lbs., the 5’11” stringbean has made his way into the talented waters of the featherweight division.
At 22, Caballero turned pro in his native Panama. He ran off to a nice streak of 17-0, before getting stopped in the 3rd round by Venezuelan contender Jose Rojas. Two more wins followed and then Caballero lost again—to undefeated future world champion Ricardo Cordoba in 2004.
Getting on the Right Track
Caballero, unperturbed by those two coming-of-age losses, got back on the horse immediately and landed an IBF Super Bantamweight Title eliminator against undefeated Daniel Ponce de Leon. With a record of 24-0, most of them KO’s, De Leon was expected to brush aside the waif-like Caballero. De Leon had already begun to cultivate his reputation as a fearsome puncher and was the favorite. Caballero was unmoved by de Leon’s billing, outfighting him over the 12-round distance for a unanimous decision.
The de Leon fight showed what Caballero is all about. His style belies his enormous gifts in height and reach. He showed he is more than able to fight in a rugged style, with his infighting and bodypunching winning the day against de Leon. You see a junior featherweight at almost six-feet, you assume he’s a stylist. While able to use his reach, Caballero is a real fighter. He likes to mix it up.
Caballero fought in 3 interim title bouts, winning them all, before challenging defending WBA Super Bantamweight Champion Somsak Sithchatchawal in his home country of Thailand. The Thai had lost only once in 48 fights and was seen as a robust challenge for Caballero, especially with the Panamanian fighting so far away in Thailand. Caballero brushed him aside easily, scoring an astonishing 3rd round stoppage. This win marked Caballero’s arrival as a genuine world-class champion. Run-of-the-mill fighters don’t go to Thailand and starch champions who went almost 50 fights without being stopped. It was a big win and perhaps a bit underrated.
Caballero continued his ascent, stringing together defenses against Ricardo Castillo, Jorge Lacierva, Mauricio Pastrana, Lorenzo Parra, and Elvis Mejia.
In November of 2008, Caballero once again traveled to a respected champion’s hometown, as he faced IBF Super Bantamweight Champion Steve Molitor in Ontario, Canada. Molitor was 28-0 and respected, having rarely lost a round in his six world title fights. This unification bout was considered a close match. Most felt the smooth-boxing Molitor would at least trouble Caballero. No such luck. Molitor was horribly out of his depth against the Panamanian juggernaut, suffering a 4th round wipeout. It was a startling performance, one that shot Caballero squarely into the consciousness of boxing fans worldwide.
Recent Activity and Move up to Featherweight
2009 was not the best year for Caballero, as he somewhat failed to capitalize on the momentum of the Molitor win. He decisioned young Jeffrey Mathebula by only a split decision, and then scored a perfunctory defense against anonymous Francisco Leal.
Caballero opened 2010 showing that at 33, he is still a factor to be dealt with. In April, he moved up to 126 lbs. to take on plucky contender Daud Yordan. Yordan had impressed with his abbreviated challenge of Robert Guerrero, showing a lot of confidence and drive. Against Caballero, he was game, but simply outclassed. Caballero battered the young Indonesian upstart, pummeling him to the body and threatening to stop him whenever he opened up to the head. A unanimous decision confirmed his viability at featherweight.
With names like Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez now fighting at featherweight, Caballero looks to make some big fights in his new division.