Moloney fighting for the first time in the United States
By Anthony Cocks
Bantamweight contender Jason Moloney 20-1 (17) will be looking to make a statement when he clashes with Leonardo Baez 18-2 (9) over 10 rounds at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 25.
The 29-year-old Australian will be fighting in the US for the second time in his career following his razor-thin split decision loss to IBF bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez in the quarterfinal of the World Boxing Super Series two years ago.
Moloney was originally scheduled to face Oscar Negrete 19-2-2 (7) before the tough Colombian was forced to withdraw with an eye injury.
“I’ve been watching a lot of Baez since he was confirmed as my new opponent,” Moloney said in an exclusive interview with Maxboxing.
“He’s a tall, rangy Mexican brawler who is currently rated #5 in the world at super bantamweight. He trains under Joel Diaz and is from a good stable of fighters.
“I’m expecting a really tough fight but I have worked extremely hard for this fight and will do whatever it takes to win and continue charging towards my dream of becoming world champion.”
It’s not the first time Moloney has had to deal with a late replacement. Twelve months ago he faced Goodluck Mrema on short notice, knocking him out in the third round.
“This is boxing and you always have to expect the unexpected,” he said. “I have had to adjust a late replacement before. I’ve had nearly 100 fights in total, amateur and professional and sparred hundreds of different people and styles. I’m prepared to face and beat anybody they put in front of me.
“Both Negrete and Baez have quite similar styles. The only difference really is their height as Baez is quite tall at 5’9”. We have brought in a couple of taller sparring partners and I’m confident that his height won’t be an issue.”
Moloney, who was last in action in November when he knocked out Dixon Flores in two frames in Melbourne, Australia, will be fighting two days after his twin brother Andrew defends his WBA ‘regular’ super flyweight title against Joshua Franco.
The brothers managed to overcome the international travel ban due to some astute work by their manager Tony Tolj. Top Rank has housed the boys in accommodation just 10 minutes from the promoter’s gym.
“To put it simply, we have a great manager!” Moloney said. “Tony was speaking to Top Rank and they said that they are looking to bring boxing back early to mid-June. They asked us to try and get over to the US so we can fight.
“At first we thought there was very little chance as there are obviously travel restrictions in place all over the world. Tony moved heaven and earth and then he called us saying ‘pack your shit your flying to Vegas tomorrow.’ Here we are!”
For the Moloneys, the coronavirus lockdown provided them with the opportunity to stay in shape and ensure they were the first cabs off the rank when boxing returned.
“I’m a true professional. This isolation period has really shown who the true dedicated fighters are,” Moloney said.
“We have our own private gym that no one has access to so Andrew and I continued to train every single day. Even when it didn’t look like we would be fighting for a long time, we stayed in the gym and continued to improve.
“Once we got permission to travel, Top Rank asked us when we would be ready and we said once we land in Vegas, you can drive us straight to the venue. We are ready to go!
“We have settled in really well over here and our training and sparring has been fantastic.
“We take a very professional approach to our training camps. We wake up at the same time every day, eat at the same times every day, nap at the same time every day, train at the same time every day and have everything structured and timed to peak on fight night.”
Tolj worked hard to secure quality sparring partners to assist the twins with finishing off their camp.
“Tony has connections with a local guy over here who was able to supply some great sparring,” Moloney said. “We have five different guys that we are using at the moment who all bring something different and give us great work. We are ready for anything and anyone…
“I’ve been working extremely hard to make the most of this opportunity so I plan on winning in impressive fashion and hope to capture a lot of new fans over here in the US and back home in Australia too.”
While in lockdown WBA ‘regular’ super flyweight champion Andrew has discovered a newfound skill. He rates himself as a barber, but don’t expect Jason to be rocking an extravagant new hairdo on fight night.
“He goes alright. The price is good anyway!” Moloney laughed.
“He has given me three haircuts over here so far. It’s really handy actually because we don’t want to take any unnecessary risks so rather than going into a barber shop and potentially coming into contact with someone with COVID, we can just stay at home and do it here so it’s much safer.
“Don’t think I’ll be running any new ’dos though!”