Saturday, September 30, 2023  |



Jason Moloney expects ‘a very tough fight’ from late substitute Leonardo Baez

Photo by Steve Dilks
Fighters Network

Australia’s Jason Moloney will face Leonardo Baez in a scheduled 10-round bantamweight contest at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Moloney, who is rated No. 6 by The Ring at 118 pounds, has seen Baez step in after original opponent Oscar Negrete was forced to pull out with a detached retina.

“I’m really not fussed,” Moloney (20-1, 17 knockouts) told The Ring. “I got on the plane to America prepared to face absolutely anybody.

“This switch in opponent doesn’t change much; both Negrete and Baez have quite similar styles. The only real difference is the height and reach. Baez is quite tall, but I don’t believe his height will cause any issues.

“Baez is rated No. 5 in the world [by the WBA at junior featherweight] and is coming off a few big wins, so I am expecting a very tough fight. But I am ready to prove myself and I will do whatever it takes to win and continue my charge towards becoming world champion.”

Moloney is accustomed to rolling with the punches outside of the ring. He was also due to face Joshua Greer in a defacto world title eliminator on the undercard of Naoya Inoue’s bantamweight unification bout with John Riel Casimero on April 25 in Las Vegas.

“When the coronavirus hit and that fight was postponed, I was very disappointed,” he explained. “Then things started getting worse and the whole world went into lockdown. I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to fight for a long time. This was a real worry, but I stayed positive and continued to train every day. I love being in the gym and I’m always trying to improve.

“We then heard the good news that Top Rank was looking to bring boxing back in early to mid-June, but unfortunately we thought there was no chance that we would be able to get over to America with the travel restrictions in place. Our manager Tony Tolj moved heaven and earth and we were granted permission to fly to the U.S.”

Moloney knows how pivotal it is to keep winning at this stage of his career.

“This is an extremely important chapter of my career,” he said. “To have the opportunity to keep fighting and keep charging towards my goal of becoming world champion is something that I am very grateful for. We had no hesitation in packing our bags and getting over here as soon as we could. Many people say they will do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams, but we mean it.

“I’m extremely focused and determined to achieve my dreams. Leaving my fiancé and my daughter at home and not seeing them for a minimum of eight weeks is very difficult. I miss them a lot, but unfortunately these are some of the sacrifices I must make to achieve my dreams and to provide a better life for them. I use them as added motivation to train hard and win at all cost.”

Tolj foresees a tough challenge but expects his fighter to come through in style.

“Trained by Joel Diaz, [Baez is] definitely a quality fighter,” said Tolj. “Full respect for taking the fight on under two weeks’ notice. He’s very tall, but he comes to fight and I expect it to be a great fight.

“This is our third opponent since we have landed in the states, with Greer and Negrete [falling through], but we will find a way to get Jason’s hand raised after the fight.”

Baez (18-2, 9 KOs) turned professional in 2013. The 24-year-old from Mexicali got his big break when he won a 10-round unanimous decision against former amateur standout Alberto Melian. He produced another upset when he outboxed Moises Flores over eight rounds, earlier this year.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright



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