Andrew Moloney remains focused on a specific target for his first fight in the new year.

The former secondary junior bantamweight titleholder continues to campaign for a showdown with Japan’s four-division and reigning WBO 115-pound titlist Kazuto Ioka. The dream was kept alive after Ioka retained his title for the fourth time with a twelve-round win over countryman Ryoji Fukunaga last New Year’s Eve in Tokyo.

Australia’s Moloney made it known prior to the fight that was very much interested in facing Ioka—or Fukunaga, had he pulled off the upset—and has doubled down on that request as he maps out plans for the year ahead.

“I really hope I get the opportunity to fight Ioka in 2022,” Moloney told “I respect him a lot as a fighter and what he has achieved but I believe I have what it takes to take that World Title from him.

“Australia and Japan have a great boxing history and I hope Ioka and I can add to this.”

Moloney (22-2, 14KOs; 1ND) did his part to position himself for another title run after returning to the win column in his most recent outing. The 30-year-old Aussie—whose twin brother Jason is a top bantamweight contender—prevailed in a ten-round, unanimous decision victory over Philippines’ Froilan Saludar last December 21 in Sydney.

The win over Saludar came ten days prior to Ioka’s win over Fukunaga, giving Moloney time to enjoy a much-needed victory lap and then settle in to scout his desired future competition. Ioka was a bit deliberate in his approach versus Fukunaga, a late replacement for IBF junior bantamweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas who had to withdraw from the planned title unification bout due to Japan’s Covid-related decision to close its borders to foreign travelers.

“This was a strange fight in that each round was very close but I felt that Ioka edged nearly all the rounds,” noted Moloney. “Ioka was conservative, he was in control and very accurate with the punches that he did throw but seemed to be happy to do just enough to win the rounds without completely dominating.

“I felt Fukunaga let Ioka dictate the pace and control the fight. I think he would have had a lot more success had he upped his work rate like he did he rounds 11 & 12.”

Ioka (28-2, 15KOs) aims to revisit plans for a clash with Ancajas (33-1-2, 22KOs), who first faces Argentina’s Fernando Daniel Martinez (13-0, 8KOs) on February 19 at a U.S. location to be determined. Also looming for Ancjas is a potential mandatory title defense versus the winner of an approved title eliminator between Jade Bornea (16-0, 10KOs) and Mohammad Obbadi (22-1, 13KOs) which takes place January 14 in Monterrey, Mexico.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox