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Jason Moloney realizes lifetime dream, captures WBO bantamweight title

Jason Moloney (L) and Vincent Astrolabio (R) pose during the weigh in prior to their May 13 WBO bantamweight championship fight in Manteca, California. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

A major world bantamweight title was on the line in Stockton, California when two-time title challenger Jason Moloney took on Filipino spoiler Vincent Astrolabio in the co-main event of a Top Rank show on Saturday. Moloney (25-2, 19 KOs) finally realized his dreams via majority decision over Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KOs) with the scorecards reading: 114-114, 115-113, and a more reasonable tally of 116-112.

Moloney, who is The Ring’s No. 2-rated bantamweight, earned the WBO belt that was recently vacated by former undisputed champ Naoya Inoue. Astrolabio entered the ESPN+ streamed bout as The Ring’s No. 4-rated bantamweight.

Both fighters came out to control the center of the ring. Astrolabio, who was on a six-bout win streak (including an upset over former champ Guillermo Rigondeaux), became more aggressive as the rounds went on but it was Moloney who kept with the persistent offense (mainly his jab). Moloney landed jabs and one-two combos while exiting on an angle during Round 2. Astrolabio opened up his offense more and looked for the uppercut as Moloney moved around the pocket.

Moloney and Astrolabio went tit for tat with power shots at the start of Round 3. Astrolabio landed a huge right that had Moloney backing up before the bell but he didn’t put his foot on the gas and the Australian looked to still have his wits about him.

Astrolabio started the fourth firing heavy shots but Moloney kept his footwork chugging and continued to make himself hard to hit. Going into the fifth, Moloney was more comfortable and started to lower his high guard some as Astrolabio slowed down slightly. While Astrolabio landed a great right hand at the end of Round 5, he continued to struggle to deal with Moloney’s jab.

Astrolabio came out in Rond 6 with a sense of urgency. It paid off when he landed a nice right as Moloney stepped in. But Moloney’s chin didn’t waver and he continued to work the jab, scoring points. As Moloney peppered Astrolabio with the jab and continued to make Astrolabio miss with CompuBox stats tallying a paltry 18% connection rate for Astrolabio halfway through the fight.

Astrolabio landed a short left hand at the end of Round 8 that caused a small amount of drama but Moloney wisely disengaged and got on his bicycle not letting Astrolabio land any follow-up shots. Astrolabio once again pushed the pace at the mid point of Round 8. Moloney covered up and let Astrolabio throw. Once Astrolabio gave up the pursuit, Moloney continued with the game plan and returned to sticking and jabbing.

Moloney continued to jab as Astrolabio looked for the right uppercut and in Round 10 it lands. Moloney ate it and continued to trudge to the final bell with a great performance. In response, Astrolabio looked for the lead uppercut on the step in to the pocket. He landed some good shots, but, as was the case with the rest of the fight, Moloney didn’t budge.

As Round 12 commenced, Astrolabio came out aggressive. Moloney remained mobile, content to continue this fight with the same weapons as he has teh entire fight. As the seconds ticked down, Moloney stayed on his bicycle as Astrolabio hunted a knockout that would never come.