Andrew Moloney has not given up his quest for a lucrative and career-defining showdown with four-division titlist Kazuto Ioka.

The belief is that such a title fight can be kept in play after Ioka’s next defense.

Australia’s Moloney will be among the more interested observers for Wednesday’s WBO junior bantamweight title fight rematch between Japan’s Ioka and Philippines’ Donnie Nietes (43-1-6, 23KOs). The former secondary WBA titlist remains highly ranked by the WBC, WBA and WBO, with the belief that the WBO is his best bet at landing a title shot within his next fight or two.

“I will be keeping a very close eye on this fight,” Moloney told “As I have mentioned many times in the past, I would love the opportunity to fight Kazuto Ioka. I very much respect him as a fighter and what he has achieved. However, I believe I can beat him and my goal is to become World Champion again.”

“Even though Nietes won the first fight between these two I believe that age and inactivity from Nietes will play a huge factor in the fight this time around and I expect Ioka to win a wide points decision. In Nietes last few fights he has started well but can’t seem to keep the pace and fades during the later rounds. I expect Ioka to take over the fight from round 4-5 and finish the fight on top.”

Ioka (28-2, 15KOs) attempts the fifth defense of the WBO title, his fourth weight division in which he has claimed major title status. Much of his career has taken place in his native Japan, with one fight each in the U.S. and Macau. Both came back-to-back upon his return to the ring in 2018, including a split decision defeat to Nietes in Macau.

Moloney (24-2, 16KOs; 1NC) has rotated between Australia and the U.S., though his stateside adventure resulted in the end of his WBA ‘World’ junior bantamweight title reign after going 0-2 with one No-Contest in a three-fight series with Joshua Franco. Three straight wins have followed—two in Australia and one in the U.S. earlier this year.

In his most recent start, Moloney claimed a second-round stoppage of Nicaragua’s Alexander Espinoza on the undercard of the massive June 5 event in Melbourne. The show was headlined by Devin Haney’s twelve-round win over George Kambosos Jr. to become the undisputed lightweight champion.

There is a strong likelihood of a Haney-Kambosos rematch taking place in Australia in the coming months. Such an event will be co-promoted by Top Rank, who signed Andrew and twin brother Jason Moloney (24-2, 19KOs) in 2019 and with both serving as likely candidates to once again grace the undercard.

A title fight with Ioka would be a huge addition to the show, though Moloney is fully prepared to hit the road for such a fight.

“I hope the winner comes through the fight with no injuries and is ready to fight again soon,” Moloney said. “I believe there will be a big fight card in Australia in a few months’ time, which would be a huge platform for this fight. I’d also be happy to fight either man in their home country. Fighting Ioka on New Year’s Eve in Japan would be amazing!”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox