Jason Moloney gets new opponent, will face Leonardo Baez on June 25
Jason Moloney won’t be fighting Oscar Negrete on June 25 as was originally planned, after the Colombian fighter withdrew from the fight with a detached retina.
Instead, the Australian bantamweight contender will face Leonardo Baez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Moloney (20-1, 17 knockouts) describes Baez (18-2, 9 KOs) as a “tall, rangy Mexican brawler,” and notes that he’s around a lot of good fighters because he trains with Joel Diaz.
“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,” Moloney, 29, tells The Ring.
Moloney’s manager Tony Tolj, who also handles Moloney’s twin brother Andrew, confirmed the switch in opponents, saying they found out on Thursday that Baez wouldn’t be able to make the date due to his injury.
“[Baez is] a lot taller but Jason has put in a big training camp, and has prepared like a world champion,” said Tolj, who adds that the brothers will have been in America for five weeks by the time they fight.
Baez, 24, of Mexicali, Mexico is rated no. 6 by WBA at 122 pounds and has won six straight since his last defeat to Alfredo Mejia Vargas in September of 2018, defeating Moises Flores in his last outing in February. His only stoppage loss came in 2016, when he lost in two rounds to a 1-1 fighter named Julio Cesar Martinez, who is now the WBC flyweight titleholder.
Moloney, who now lives and trains out of Kingscliff, Australia, has won three straight since losing a decision in a spirited IBF bantamweight title fight against Emmanuel Rodriguez in the World Boxing Super Series.
The advanced notice of the injury means that Moloney will be able to salvage the fight date with a replacement opponent. Top Rank has mandated pre-fight coronavirus testing for fighters and trainers entering their “bubble” in Las Vegas, meaning late replacements are harder to clear.
The two brothers will headline back to back dates on ESPN, with Andrew Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs) defending the WBA “regular” junior bantamweight title against Joshua Franco (16-1-2, 8 KOs) on June 23, before Jason faces Baez on the 25th in a bantamweight fight.