THE biggest win of his career is still not enough to satisfy the ambitions of Jason Moloney.
Two months ago, the Australian shook off the tag of nearly man to prove third time can be a charm by winning the WBO bantamweight belt. Beating Vincent Astrolabio by majority decision in Stockton was significant compensation for the losses to Emmauel Rodriguez and Naoya Inoue in his first two attempts.
In 2018 against the Puerto Rican Moloney was edged out in a split decision for the IBF belt during their World Boxing Super Series quarter-final in Orlando. A strong second half showing was not enough on the night for the then unbeaten Moloney.
Rodriguez ran into Inoue for the second defence of his belt in the WBSS semi-final. The Japanese assassin needed only two rounds to add another strap to his collection. Moloney also faced the might of ‘The Monster’ on Halloween 2020. To his credit the underdog survived six rounds before succumbing in the seventh to the hellacious power of Inoue.
With his new shiny possession sitting over his left shoulder Moloney spoke to Boxing News from his family home in New South Wales about finally becoming a champion.
“It gives you a little bit of confidence of being a champion,” he said.
“I’ve always felt like I belong at this level but to actually be the champion and have the belt yeah it gives you a little more confidence moving forward. I know they all say you become 20 per cent better once you win the belt, I’m looking forward to seeing that. I’m at the gym now improving as much as I can. I think this added confidence will make me hard to beat.”
A hand injury in the first third of his fight against Astrolabio forced a change of tactics for the Aussie. Instead of going toe-to-toe Moloney chose to use brains rather than brawn to fulfil his dream. His opponent’s fans inside the Stockton Arena could be heard sharing their disappointment at the result believing their man had done enough. Moloney has watched the fight back on one occasion and concedes that if he is falling behind or it’s a tight affair, he would put his hands up and admit it.
“For me I felt like I won the fight comfortably,” Moloney says.
“Though when the crowd was booing after the decision, and I saw that Filipino TV scored the fight to Astralabio I thought I better watch this and just make sure I’m not going bonkers. I was watching it and still think it was ten rounds to two or nine rounds to three. I’m a realist. If it’s a close fight or I’m losing rounds I’m humble enough to admit that, but I felt like I won the fight pretty comfortably.
“I’ll watch it again a few times. I like to study all my fights. I don’t just be satisfied with the win I know there’s a lot more I could’ve done and [there are] always areas you can improve. But given I had hurt my right hand and obviously had to change the way I planned to fight I had to fight a very disciplined fight and really get behind the jab and move more probably than I wanted. I have to take that into account.
“If I had two good hands, I would have probably got rid of him earlier and it wouldn’t have gone the 12 but you gotta play the cards that you’re dealt and I think considering the injury I performed well and as I said I thought I won it comfortably.”
Back home in Kingscliff, New South Wales Moloney is back into the swing of a normal life with his two daughters and long-time partner Jorja. The 32-year-old told BN how she had made a lot of sacrifices to allow him to chase his dream. His win in May was for the two of them as well as their children.
“We packed our bags and moved away from all of our friends and family to another State so I could train here with my coach,” he revealed. “She was so happy to see me achieve the dream and get what we have both been working towards.”
“My girls they’re four and two, to them I’m just dad they probably don’t fully understand. They like the look of the flashy belt with all the diamonds on it, but they don’t really understand. I’m just dad to them. They don’t quite get it but hopefully one day they’ll be extremely proud of what I was able to achieve.”
While he waits for his hand to heal Moloney is doing all he can in the Dragon Fire Boxing Gym to tick over until he’s 100 per cent. Living a clean life and looking after his body is a necessity. One injury is not enough to prevent Moloney to get back to what he has been doing since he was 13.
The appetite for work is fuelled by a desire to achieve more in the sport. His “flashy belt” looks great but he would love nothing more than his children to be looking at four shiny new possessions in their house.
Since Naoya Inoue cleaned up at bantamweight and ventured to super-bantam the 118lbs division has been on the market looking for new owners. Moloney (WBO) and Takuma Inoue (WBA) are the only two players at the top table right now with hardware to protect. The two other belts will have new homes soon. Nonito Donaire and Alejandro Santiago contest the WBC version on July 29 in Las Vegas on the Spence-Crawford undercard while Emmanuel Rodriguez and Melvin Lopez will duke it out for the IBF trinket on August 12 in Maryland.
“Obviously, we’ve got Rodriguez fighting next month and Donaire’s fighting this month as well,” Moloney commented.
“Two fights I definitely would love to have. We’ll see who wins these belts and whether we can put one of those fights together. That would be my preference. There’s no mandatory so we could have any voluntary defence, I believe. Excited for what’s to come. It’s still early days and some fights I have my eyes set on. Looking forward to watching those and seeing how it all plays out.”
Moloney believes he would be good to go in October providing his hand has fully recovered but his team have pumped the brakes and told him November instead. The fighting family man has no qualms about travelling overseas again for a fight having fought in America six times since 2018.
Being a headline attraction is something Moloney would dearly love to happen. Fighting on the undercard of the two fights between George Kambosos and Devin Haney at the Marvel Stadium and Rod Laver Arena have whetted the appetite for something similar. Tim Tszyu packs out venues wherever he goes and Jeff Horn got a taste of it himself when he defeated Manny Pacquiao at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. So, how about Jason Moloney vs Nonito Donaire in a stadium Down Under?
“Definitely. It’s so exciting,” Moloney responded.
“I was lucky enough to be involved in the two Kambosos-Haney cards last year down in Melbourne. Fought on both those shows. Incredible, but at the time all I thought was I wanna be headlining shows like this myself. As a fighter that’s given his life to the sport you don’t wanna be an undercard fighter. You wanna be the headline. So, yeah, for me that’s super exciting to headline my own shows. To really get the whole country behind me and to pack out some stadiums.
“If I can bring down someone like Donaire, a future hall of famer in a unification fight, it’d be massive. It’s certainly something that excites me. Gets you out of bed in the morning, gets you training hard and makes you have that pep in your step because I’m hungry for more. I wanna be undisputed, I want more belts, I want to headline big shows and I wanna really create a legacy for myself. The fire is well and truly alive.”
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