Junto Nakatani says Andrew Moloney is ‘above average,’ wants to impress in Vegas debut
Former flyweight titlist Junto Nakatani is bidding to become a two-weight world champion when he faces Andrew Moloney for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title on the Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko undercard at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on Saturday.
Nakatani, The Ring’s No. 6 rated junior bantamweight, is very aware that his Australian opponent is a tough assignment, doubtlessly buoyed by his twin’s recent world title win.
“Andrew Moloney is ex-world champion and he has had many experiences, so I expect a good fight,” Nakatani (24-0, 18 knockouts) told The Ring through Daisuke Okabe. “I think he is good, an above average fighter. I [will] find out his areas of weakness on the ring.”
[Editor’s Note: Moloney held the WBA ‘regular’ junior bantamweight title. The Ring only recognizes the most senior of the titleholders, which at the time was Roman Gonzalez.]
The 25-year-old Japanese southpaw will live out a dream by fighting on a big event in the capital of boxing.
“I’m so excited fighting with [Moloney on the] undercard of Haney-Loma at MGM,” he said proudly. “I have trained in U.S. since I was 15 years old, so I [want to] show a good performance at this great opportunity in front of an American audience.”
This fight also allows Nakatani to potentially move along toward one of his goals in boxing.
“If I [am able to become a] two division world champion, it will be big step up for next stage of my career,” he said. “If I win this fight and make a title defense and move on to the next belt depending to my weight. If I cannot demonstrate good performance [in the] 115-pound division, I have to think about moving up. Also, I’d like to be named on the pound-for-pound list.”
In preparation, Nakatani has spent two-months training in Los Angeles under the watchful eye of Rudy Hernandez. The two have worked together for a decade now and Hernandez see’s huge potential.
“This fight against Moloney is not easy,” said Hernandez. “He can fight and will be a tough opponent for Junto.
“[Nakatani is] so disciplined and has only thought about becoming the best boxer he can be since he was 15, when I met him. That was already his mentality – I got lucky.”
Nakatani may be the most talented fighter in Japan after Naoya Inoue. This is his proving ground, Moloney is a tough fighter and won’t go easy but if Nakatani can live up to his pre-fight billing he can emerge victorious.
Moloney (25-2, 16 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 8 rated junior bantamweight, was a seasoned amateur and won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth games. The 32-year-old Australian scored solid wins over Luis Concepcion (TKO 10), Miguel Gonzalez (TKO 8) and Elton Dharry (RTD 8). Has dropped two decisions to Joshua Franco but has won his last four fights.
Haney vs. Lomachenko, plus supporting undercard, will be broadcast on ESPN+ PPV beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The PPV will be priced at $59.99. Moloney-Nakatani and Ali Walsh will be broadcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.
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