By Anthony Cocks
World ranked super flyweight Andrew “The Monster” Moloney 15-0 (10) will face the stiffest test of his short professional career when he puts his WBA Oceania title on the line against OPBF champion Rene “Commander” Dacquel 20-6-1 (6) of the Philippines at Hosking Promotions’ Punches at the Park 7 at the new venue of St Kilda Town Hall in Melbourne on 24 February.
“This is definitely a step up in competition,” said the WBA #6 and IBF #9 super flyweight. “I am excited by this fight and I’m expecting this to be the toughest fight of my career, so everything has stepped up to another level in training. I’m certainly leaving no stone unturned to make sure I am victorious on February 24.”
Dacquel, 27, is a tough and durable contender, a genuine 12 round fighter who has been the championship distance in seven of his past nine bouts. He has never been stopped in his 27-fight pro career.
The fight is an even match-up on paper.
“I’m sure Dacquel is going to be extremely hungry to win this fight and hold onto his OPBF title. The title has given him some great opportunities with some good pay days in Japan and I’m sure he is not going to want to let go of that belt without a real fight,” said Moloney.
Dacquel is no stranger to fighting on the road. Five of his last seven bouts have been away from home, with his last three taking place in Japan – all victories.
“Dacquel is rated #5 in the world by the IBF and #11 by the WBC,” said Moloney, who won the flyweight gold medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and is the reigning Commonwealth 115-pound champion as a pro. “This is the step up that I have been wanting. I plan on making a statement in this fight and showing what level I’m at.”
This looks like a fight that will go into the later rounds and that’s where it’s expected to get interesting. Moloney has only been past the eighth round once when Japan’s Ryohei Takahashi extended him the 12 round distance in March 2016. Since then he has been eight rounds twice, with every other bout ended before the sixth.
But Moloney is confident that his conditioning will keep him in good stead in the back half of the fight.
“Yes, I am expecting this fight to go into the later rounds, but knowing that Dacquel has never been stopped does come as a challenge for me, so if the opportunity comes I will definitely try and get the stoppage,” said Moloney.
“I am extremely confident in my conditioning. If anything I get stronger in the later rounds. My coach Angelo [Hyder] and I have joked about this, saying that the old 15 round fights back in the day would have been great for me.”
After fighting five of his last six bouts at the Melbourne Park Function Centre, Moloney will be boxing at the St Kilda Town Hall just a few kilometres outside of the Melbourne CBD for the first time in his career.
“I’m excited to fight at this new venue,” said Moloney. “I have not seen the venue in person, I have only seen photos. It looks great and I have only heard really good things about the place so I’m really looking forward to fighting there.”
The 27-year-old, who relocated to Kingscliff on the northern NSW coast last April with his twin brother and fellow boxer Jason to be closer to their then-new trainer Angelo Hyder, will be having his third fight at the 115-pound weight limit and fourth fight under Hyder’s instruction. In his first two bouts at the weight Moloney won by fourth round TKO.
“I feel extremely strong at super flyweight and I’m making the weight really well,” said Moloney. “I don’t put any pressure on myself to knock people out because of the name [“The Monster”]. I just feel I’m too strong for these other guys at the weight. I’ve also got to credit that to my coach Angelo Hyder, he has taught me how to use certain techniques to generate more power and I am definitely punching a lot harder now.”
Moloney has put in a solid training camp with his brother Jason, with quality sparring from Sydney super featherweight Billel Dib, world ranked Tasmanian featherweight Luke Jackson, undefeated Mornington Peninsula featherweight Jai Alexander and up-and-comer Josh English.
The work has seen Moloney improve exponentially.
“Angelo is an amazing coach!” said Moloney. “He has developed all aspects of my boxing. I wouldn’t say we have worked so much on one particular thing for this fight but I can confidently say that we have made some huge improvements since my last fight.”
After averaging five fights annually for the past two years you could be forgiven for thinking that Moloney would be looking to ease back on the workload as he gets closer to a world title shot. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“I would like to fight four-to-five times this year,” revealed Moloney. “My goal is to be world champion by the end of 2018. If that is not to be then I’m sure I will be in a great position within the ratings and very close to getting my opportunity in early 2019.”
WES CAPPER TO FACE FORMER IBF WORLD TITLEHOLDER SAM SOLIMAN IN MELBOURNE ON 17 MARCH
Former Australian champion Wes “The Captivator” Capper 19-2 (12) takes a step up in class when he battles it out with former IBF middleweight champion Sam “King” Soliman 45-14 1NC (19) for the vacant IBF International title on a big card at the Melbourne Pavilion on 17 March.
Soliman’s story is well-known to fight fans. Capper meanwhile has largely escaped the limelight as he plied his trade in the sweatboxes of Vegas and L.A. and fought on club shows in small casinos and dusty Mexican towns.
The 29-year-old former kickboxer and MMA fighter from Perth knows that opportunities like this don’t come around every day.
“It’s not very often you get the opportunity to fight a former world champion and pioneer of Australian combat sports,” said Capper. “Can’t thank my team for working so hard on getting this fight and for Soliman’s camp for giving me the chance to share the ring with him.”
Capper has had a colourful life.
Born in the outer western Sydney suburb of Penrith to a single teenage mum, he moved to the Western Australia capital as a 16-year-old and brought with him a love of combat sports. He took up a plumbing apprenticeship but the desire to fight is what drove him, Muay Thai and MMA originally. By 24 he decided he wanted to give boxing a crack, so with this in mind, he packed two bags and booked a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. Once there, he made his way out to Las Vegas.
After buying a fixed-gear bicycle for $79 at Walmart that he christened “Rosie”, Capper started pedalling his way from one gym to the next, offering his services as a sparring partner. Before he knew it he was putting in rounds with a nice Japanese fellow for $50 a day. He was surprised to later learn that the Japanese boxer was in fact the 2012 Olympic gold medallist in the middleweight division, Ryota Murata.
There were other American adventures. He had the opportunity to work with his idol, ring legend Roy Jones Jr. He trained at the Mayweather Gym where he participated in the infamous “doghouse” sparring sessions designed to sort the boys from the men. Then there was the time he told an African-American sparring partner “don’t get your knickers in a twist”. The sparring partner thought he had heard another word hissed through the mouthguard and it took all of Capper’s diplomatic skill to avoid a full-blown riot – or worse.
It’s the type of apprenticeship that can make or break a man.
“I had experiences good and bad that I’d do all again in a heartbeat,” said Capper.
The fight against Soliman, who defeated long-time 160-pound champion Felix Sturm in Germany almost four years ago to claim the IBF world title, is a big opportunity for Capper. With almost half of his pro fights having taken place in North America, a victory here will establish his name both in Australia and around the world.
Capper backs himself in to be able to adjust to the popular 44-year-old Melbournian’s awkward style.
“I don’t think you can prepare for his style as it’s very difficult to find sparring to mimic that,” said Capper, who has recently been sparring Bilal Akkawy ahead of fight against Giovanni De Carolis. “I’ve just got to follow the plan put in place by the team and then make adjustments as they come.”
With the depth of talent locally in middleweight division, Capper is hoping that a victory will lead to more high quality domestic matchups.
“I’m hoping a win will open up doors for some great domestic fights within Australia. I really believe to get Aussie boxing back we need to create some good fights within our own backyard,” said Capper.
The Big Time Boxing card will also feature the return of once-beaten super middleweight contender Jayde Mitchell 15-1 (8) who is coming off neck surgery over the summer and junior middleweight Michael Zerafa 22-2 (13) against opponents to be named.
The 25-year-old Zerafa scored one of the knockouts of the year last June with his one-punch KO of Tomas Andres Reynosos in the sixth round.
Also on the card will be vastly improved junior middleweight Joel Camilleri and experienced welterweight Matthew Lytwynenko in separate bouts.
KRIS GEORGE RETURNS TO TOOWOOMBA ON 10 MARCH
Commonwealth welterweight champion Kris George 13-1 (7) will get the chance to perform in from of his home crowd when he takes on Argentinean Maximiliano Scalzone 16-1-1 (12) at Rumours International in Toowoomba, Queensland on 10 March on a Smithys TGW Promotions card.
“I’m very excited to be fighting back home,” said George. “There are some exciting prospects in the near future so it will be great to be performing in front of a home crowd again.”
The winner of the George vs Scalzone fight will be awarded a Brayd Smith title in honour of promoter Brendan Smith’s son who tragically passed away after competing in a bout in March 2015. The Brayd Smith belts are a way of memorialising the talented young featherweight’s name in perpetuity.
“Fighting for the Brayd Smith title means a lot to me and I’m very keen to get my hands on one of those belts,” said George.
The 28-year-old from Toowoomba is coming off a sixth round win against Sydneysider Jack Brubaker, who was stopped on cuts. In his last fight at Rumours International George claimed the vacant Commonwealth title with a 12 round points victory over previously unbeaten compatriot Cameron Hammond in November 2011.
George admits he knows little about his South American opponent.
“As an opponent it’s another unknown,” said George. “He has a great record which never comes easy so I’m prepared for war.
“I’ll be in peak condition and I’m looking to make a big statement on March 10.”
Promoter Brendon Smith is rapt to have George back in Toowoomba performing in front of his hometown crowd.
“It’s a very special night for everyone involved,” said Smith. “To have our Commonwealth champion Kris George fighting for a Brayd Smith belt is a huge drawcard for fight fans.
“Kris has been to Sydney where he was the star of the show [and] it was a similar story in New Zealand when he stunned Bowyn Morgan.
“To have him back in the ring in Toowoomba is huge.
“Kris is a serious player on the world stage. If he can win here on March 10 it’s quite possible his next bout will be a significant stepping stone towards a world title.”
INJURY FORCES LUKE JACKSON TO POSTPONE BOUT AGAINST ALAN CASTILLO
A recurring hand injury has forced the postponement of WBO #9 featherweight Luke “Action” Jackson’s fight against South American featherweight champion Alan “El Lumbriz” Castillo 23-7 (9).
The fight was scheduled to take place at the Wrest Point Casino in Hobart, Tasmania on 2 March but has now been rescheduled for 27 April.
The fracture to his right wrist is expected to prevent him from throwing a punch with that hand for up to six weeks.
The 33-year-old first suffered the injury more than a decade ago in a bout against amateur rival Joel Brunker.
“It’s always been there and it’s reoccurred a few times,” Jackson told WIN News.
Castillo comes into the fight with twice as many pro bouts as Jackson and a formidable form line.
The 26-year-old Argentinean has won two fights on the trot since dropping a competitive 10 round decision to heavily-hyped prospect Diego De La Hoya for the WBC Youth 122-pound title last July.
“If it was anyone less I would go into the fight, maybe,” said Jackson, 15-0 (6). “But at this level now, the fights are getting harder and I need two hands to beat these guys.”
Jackson had an extensive amateur career. He won a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and was named team captain for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and the 2012 Olympics in London.
ROBERT TRIGG SET TO DEFEND AUSSIE BANTAMWEIGHT CROWN AGAINST JARRETT OWEN
Mt Gambier bantamweight Robert Trigg 2-1-1 will have his work cut out for him when he hits the road to defend his national 118-pound crown against the vastly more experienced Jarrett “Juarez” Owen 6-5-3 (3) at Fortitude Stadium in Newstead, Brisbane on 24 February.
The 24-year-old champion from South Australia shouldn’t be too fazed about travelling though. He won the Australian title in Melbourne in August 2016 with a wide 10 round points decision against talented veteran Mark Quon 12-6-1 (3). His lone loss came to heavy-handed 2008 Olympian Luke Boyd 4-0 (4) at the Star in Sydney last October when he succumbed in the sixth round of his challenge for the Australian super bantamweight strap. In fact, all four of Triggs’ professional bouts have occurred away from home.
The 32-year-old challenger from Brisbane, who has fought as high super featherweight, will be keen to get his hands on the Aussie title. Last year he came painfully close to claiming the national crown at 122-pounds against veteran Emmanuel Micallef at The Famous Fortitude Gym in Newstead, Brisbane but had to settle for a 10 round majority draw. Frustratingly, Owen was coming off an eight round points win over Micallef for the Queensland state title seven months earlier.
MELBOURNE BOXING GYM GUTTED BY SUSPICIOUS FIRE
The East End Boxing Gym in the outer eastern Melbourne suburb of Croydon was gutted by fire in the early hours of Saturday morning. The fire is believed to be suspicious.
Two men in hoodies were seen running from the area on Coolstore Rd at about 1am.
Gym owner and trainer Brian Butler, who started the gym eight years ago, rushed to the gym when the building’s alarm had alerted him on his phone.
The building was in flames when he got there.
“I put my soul into that place,” a devastated Butler told the local Leader newspaper. “This gym had a great atmosphere, people would bring their kids here. It was a safe place, a safe haven.
“I’ve helped so many kids. Stopped them from going to jail. Helped them have a life.”
Victoria Police and firefighters from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade attended the building at 1:30am. Firefighters took half an hour to get the blaze under control.
The fire caused extensive damage to the gym, believed to be in the vicinity of $250,000.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Butler and east End Boxing. You can donate by clicking on the following link: www.gofundme.com/support-brian-and-east-end-boxing
BILLEL DIB HAS USA VISA CANCELLED AHEAD OF FIGHT WITH MATT REMILLARD
Super featherweight contender Billel "Babyface" Dib 21-2 (10) has had his fight against Matt "Sharp Shooter" Remillard 26-1 (15) scrapped after the United States government cancelled his visa this week. The fight was scheduled to take place on 24 February in Boston.
Dib, who is studying to become a forensic accountant, travelled to Ain al-Hilweh in Lebanon in 2016 to do charity work at a refugee camp.
Speaking out on Twitter, Dib cited his religion as the reason behind the ban.
"The United States Government has cancelled my VISA to the United States," the 28-year-old Dib tweeted on Wednesday.
"I have been informed that I am no longer welcome in the United States. I can not believe that this is happening in 2018!
"Tell me any other reason other than me being a Muslim #TRUMP"
Remillard has been on the comeback trail for the past 12 months after a stint in jail for assault put his promising career on hold for five years. The 31-year-old’s lone professional loss was to current pound-for-pound entrant Mikey Garcia back in 2011.
Dib was last in action in April against American Yuandale Evans at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma for the interim WBA-NABA super featherweight title, losing a competitive 10 round decision.