Sunday, June 04, 2023  |



Andrew Moloney: I hope I get the credit after I beat Junto Nakatani

Andrew Moloney. Photo by Top Rank
Fighters Network

Last Saturday, Andrew Moloney cheered on his twin brother Jason, who claimed the WBO bantamweight title. This weekend, he shoots for world title glory of his own when he faces Junto Nakatani for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title on the undercard of Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.

Moloney, The Ring’s No. 8-rated junior bantamweight, hopes to complete the unique double.

“I was extremely confident Jason would get the world title and become champion but his win has definitely inspired me even more for my own fight this weekend,” Moloney (25-2, 16 knockouts) told The Ring. “It feels like this is all meant to be for both of us.

“This was how our story was supposed to unfold and this is our reward for almost 20 years of non-stop commitment toward this dream. I feel like this is our destiny! I just can’t wait for my turn this Saturday night.”

The 32-year-old knows Nakatani is highly-touted and wants to test the Japanese fighter to see what he is made of.

“There is a lot of hype around Nakatani, so I just I hope I get the credit for this after I beat him,” Moloney said. “Nakatani is a very avoided fighter and there is no doubt this will be a tough fight but winning this fight will change mine and my family’s life and I’m not leaving that ring without that world title in my hands.”

The opportunity to fight on the undercard of Haney-Lomachenko adds another layer of luster for the Australian.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “Fighting for a world title on a huge card like this in Las Vegas is every fighter’s dream.

“Since losing my WBA ‘regular’ world title [Editor’s Note: The Ring doesn’t recognize the WBA regular title. It recognizes the most senior of the WBA titles, in this case, then held by Juan Francisco Estrada.] I have worked extremely hard to get myself back up the rankings and into this position. I really feel like I’m a completely different fighter now and I plan on showing this against Nakatani.

“Thanks to my team, I managed to win four straight fights in under 12 months and I can’t wait to have that world title strapped back around my waist.”

Moloney’s long-time manager Tony Tolj hopes his fighter can become his second major titleholder in consecutive weeks.

Junto Nakatani (right) won his 115-pound debut but Francisco Rodriguez Jr. made him earn it. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Junto Nakatani (right) won his 115-pound debut but Francisco Rodriguez Jr. made him earn it. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

“Junto Nakatani is an excellent fighter,” said the venerable manager. “Our motto is, ‘To be the best, you have to fight the best.’ And Andrew has not stopped putting in the work, improving daily, and, come May 20, when the world will be watching you, will see the crowning of the new junior bantamweight king.”

Nakatani (24-0, 18 KOs), The Ring’s No. 6-rated junior bantamweight, ran through his early opposition and holds wins over future junior flyweight titleholder Masamichi Yabuki (UD 4), current Japanese titleholder Seigo Yuri Akui (TKO 6) and passed the litmus test of former 108-pound titleholder Milan Melindo (TKO 6).

COVID-19 stymied the tall 25-year-old’s progress and he had to wait 13 months to win the vacant WBO flyweight title against Giemel Magramo (KO 8). The heavy-handed boxer-puncher made two defenses, including his American debut, when he stopped former titleholder Angel Acosta (TKO 4) and, on the undercard of Gennadiy Golovkin-Ryota Murata, he was equally impressive bludgeoning Ryota Yamauchi (TKO 8). He outgrew the 112-pound division and successfully moved up to 115, beating Mexican veteran Francisco Rodriguez Jr. (UD 10).

Haney vs. Lomachenko, plus supporting undercard, will be broadcast on ESPN+ PPV, beginning at 10 pm ET/7 pm PT. The pay-per-view will be priced at $59.99. Moloney-Nakatani and Nico Ali Walsh vs. Danny Rosenberger will be broadcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.



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