By Anthony Cocks
2014 Commonwealth Games flyweight gold medallist Andrew Moloney 13-0 (8) will make a return to the 52 kilogram weight class of his amateur days when he takes on Raymond Tabugon 20-7-1 (10) of the Philippines for the WBA Oceania and OPBF Silver super flyweight titles at the Melbourne Park Function Centre in Melbourne, Australia this Saturday night.
The super flyweight division doesn’t lack for talent. Andrew will be joining such luminaries as Roman Gonzalez, Naoya Inoue, Wisaksil Wangek, Carlos Cuadras, Juan Francisco Estrada and Jerwin Ancajas, the first five of whom will be appearing on the upcoming HBO televised ‘Superfly’ tripleheader from the StubHub Center in Carson, California on September 9.
Since turning professional three years ago Andrew, who will be appearing alongside his twin brother Jason on the Hosking Promotions card, has competed exclusively in the bantamweight division but says that his team have been considering a move down in weight for some time.
“It was something I had on my mind, the possibly going down to super flyweight, for a longtime now because that’s where I spent my amateur career fighting at about 52 kilos,” says Andrew, referring to the 115-pound weight class that represents flyweights in the amateurs and super flyweights in the professional ranks.
“Since moving up here in New South Wales and training with Angelo [Hyder], I think our training regime has been a little bit different and in the last fight I made the weight really comfortably and thought I can definitely move down to super flyweight, so we’ve made that decision and I feel it’s definitely a good one.
“I’m not far off the weight now and I’m still feeling strong and if anything I feel even faster. I feel in great shape, so I’m looking forward to Saturday night.”
Tabugon should provide another solid test for Andrew with a number of his losses coming against world class talent like newly minted WBC bantamweight champion Luis Nery and Ring magazine #5 super flyweight Juan Francisco Estrada.
In October last year Tabugon lasted the ten round distance against the hard-hitting Estrada, who had just relinquished his WBA and WBO flyweight world titles to move up in weight. In his following fight against Nery – who stunningly defeated long reigning bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka by TKO4 on Tuesday night – the 26-year-old Pinoy dropped the Mexican southpaw in the opening round before being succumbing in the fourth.
“I’ve watched a few of his fights and I’ve watched that fight you talked about with Nery and he gave him a hard fight and put him down early on in the fight,” says Andrew.
“He also fought Juan Francesco Estrada, who is one of the top guys around our weight and went the distance with him. So he’s been in there with some really good guys and although he’s got seven losses on his record they’ve all been against guys who were champions or at least very close to, so I’m expecting a tough fight on Saturday night.”
Earlier this year the 26-year-old Moloney twins relocated from Melbourne to the regional town of Kingscliff on the northern New South Wales coast near the Queensland border to train with their new coach Angelo Hyder.
This will be the second full training camp the twins have spent with Hyder. Andrew says that things are starting to gel now and that there have been massive improvements on their first camp together earlier this year.
In particular, Andrew has been continuing to develop his already lethal body attack that saw him dispatch his last opponent Aramis Solis in just three rounds. Solis stayed on the canvas holding his stomach in pain from the sustained body assault long after the fight was waved off.
“I love going to the body and if I land the shot right I tend to hurt them to the body pretty easy,” says Andrew, who has stopped three of his last four opponents with body shots. “It’s a punch that comes pretty naturally to me, the left rip in particular, so hopefully we can land that one and get him out of there.”
Along with the move down in weight comes a brand new nickname. No longer the ‘Lil’ Bull’, Andrew will now be known as ‘The Monster’.
“We were playing around with a few different names for a while and Tony [Tolj, Moloney’s manager] was pretty keen on ’The Monster’,” explains Andrew. “He mentioned at the new weight he thought I’d be a monster so we thought we’d go with that.”
If everything goes to plan Andrew will see his WBA #10, IBF #14 and WBC #20 bantamweight world rankings transfer to the super flyweight division before heading to Japan to defend his regional belts with a view to challenging for a world title towards the end of 2018.
“The guys in Japan are really killing it, particularly in the lower weight classes,” says Andrew. “They’ve always been strong, but lately they’ve been going really well. I’d like to get over there and have a few fights and hopefully that will put us in a good position to challenge for world titles after that.”
On the same card Andrew’s twin brother Jason ‘The Bantam Menace’ Moloney 13-0 (11) will be defending his WBA Oceania super bantamweight title for the fifth time against Filipino Lolito ‘Thunder Shot’ Sonsona 21-1-4 (9) over ten rounds.
Jason delivered a career-best performance in his last outing, stopping Mexican toughguy Emanuel Armendariz in the fifth round of a scheduled ten to successfully defend his WBA Oceania super bantamweight title. Using his jab to set up accurate power shots and solid body work, Jason was able to breakdown the aggressive 21-year-old visitor from Los Mochis, Sinaloa and become the first man to stop him in 17 professional fights.
“I thought that was probably one of my best performances and probably my toughest test as a professional,” says Jason, who is currently ranked WBA #8 and WBO #12 at super bantamweight.
"And it was my first fight under our new coach Angelo Hyder. I thought it was a good performance but we’re still gelling together as a team and this being our second camp together we’re really taking things to another level so even though I thought my performance on that night was pretty good, hopefully we’ll see an even better one this Saturday night. Everything has been going really well with us, I feel we’ve been making some big improvements in the gym so hopefully you’ll see and even better performance this Saturday.”
Sonsona, from General Santos City in the Philippines, boasts an impressive record of 21-1-4 (9) and hasn’t lost a fight since 2011 when he went down on points over ten rounds to former world title challenger Ardin Diale.
“He looks like he’s a good fighter,” says Jason. “We’ve only seen a couple of his fights, but he’s quite slick and he’s a pretty confident fighter. And he’s only got the one loss on his record so I think he’s going to come over here expecting to win and looking to win. I think he’s probably going to be my toughest fight so far and I’m really looking forward to it. As we get up to these harder fights it’s really exciting to me, as the level of opposition steps up I think that it’s going to bring out the best of me as well. We’ve had a really good training camp and I’m looking forward to a nice hard fight and hopefully showing everyone the improvements with another good performance.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the twins is getting quality sparring in a country that generally just doesn’t produce many boxers below the featherweight limit. For example, BoxRec.com rates just four boxers in Australia at super bantamweight; two at bantamweight; one at super flyweight; and none at flyweight.
The Moloneys are fortunate they have got each other to work with.
“It is hard to get good quality sparring being light,” agrees Jason. “We have been travelling to Brisbane and we’ve had a few guys come up from Sydney, so we’ve made do with what we’ve got at the moment.
“We’ve actually got some good rounds in this prep, but I think for the next training camp and the ones after that we’ll definitely look at probably either heading overseas ourselves for the training camp and getting some good sparring, or like you said booking flights to fly some guys in and getting some guys to come and stay with us for a few weeks because it’s getting hard to find the real quality sparring, but we’ve made do with what we’ve got.”
As the twins continue their climb up the world rankings, their new head coach Hyder has been working on refining the little things that can make or break a boxer at the world class level.
“Angelo is a fantastic coach and he’s trying to get us to improve as fighters in all aspects of our game,” says Jason. “There’s not really one particular point that we’re working on, we’re just trying to sort of fix all the little tiny mistakes we used to get away with. We are really just going over all the one percenters and just making sure we’re doing everything right and taking out any of those mistakes.
“Because those little mistakes we maybe we getting away with in the first few fights you’re not going to get away with them against the top level opposition.
“We’re getting intro the bigger fights now and climbing up the rankings so we need to iron out a few of those creases and really perfect every part of the game. I think we’ve made big improvements. We’re both loving the training up here and loving the move. We’re both really motivated and keen to learn and I think we really made a good move for our career and hopefully in our performances you’ll be able to tell we’ve made some big improvements.”
With his brother moving down in weight to ‘monster’ the smaller fighters at super flyweight, Jason hasn’t ruled out following suit and moving down to become ‘The Bantam Menace’ at 118-pounds.
“For the time being I think I’m going to stay where I am, I’m pretty comfortable there,” Jason says. “We’re just playing around with it at the moment.
“For this fight I’ll be staying here and after this we’ll assess whether we think we can go down or not. We’ll see how I go later in the week making the weight and how tough it is, but my plans at the moment are probably just to stay where I am.”
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