What began as a year of disappointment for Andrew Moloney has instead become one for his personal time capsule.
The unbeaten 29-year old from Australia had long pushed for an overdue shot at the 115-pound crown, instead settling for an upgrade from WBA “interim” to “Regular” junior bantamweight title claimant earlier this year. The distinction is an important one, as he will become the first boxer to make a major title defense during the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The opportunity comes this Tuesday, with a clash versus Joshua Franco also doubling as his first career fight in the United States.
“This is a big opportunity for me to increase my profile,” Moloney (21-0, 14KOs) told BoxingScene.com of his upcoming fight, which airs live on ESPN from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. “This is my chance to introduce myself to a worldwide audience and make a name for myself.”
Moloney’s American dream comes two days prior to his twin brother and current bantamweight contender Jason Moloney headlining his own ESPN show in Vegas. The two arrived in country in late May, a welcomed makeup call to the separate U.S. fights they were to have enjoyed this past April.
For Andrew Moloney, it also makes up for the title fight he was denied. The unbeaten junior bantamweight was due to face WBA “Regular” titlist Khalid ‘Kal’ Yafai, a fight he was guaranteed shortly after hitting the road in scoring an 8th round knockout of Miguel Gonzalez in their title eliminator last March in his opponent’s native Chile.
From there, his focus shifted to Yafai’s scheduled title defense versus mandatory challenger Norbelto Jimenez, whom the Brit outpointed over 12 rounds last June in Providence, Rhode Island. Rather than receiving a clear shot at the title, Moloney—who had since added the WBA “interim” title to his collection—instead watched boxing royalty jump in the line as former four-division titlist Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez was granted the opportunity to become a two-time 115-pound titlist.
Gonzalez did just that, stopping Yafai in nine one-sided round this past February. Shortly thereafter came the decision from the WBA to upgrade the Nicaraguan legend to “Super” champion, with Moloney receiving a promotion with the move.
It seems silly to the average boxing fan fed up with sanctioning body politics. However, the designation allowed Moloney and his brother to receive a travel exemption from Australia to the United States and in time for the sport’s first title fight in more than three months.
“Honestly, it feels good to have wrapped that up. It all happened in a bit of a roundabout way,” notes Moloney. “We chased that Yafai fight for about three years. Finally, after more years of wanting a title fight and dedicating my whole life to boxing that I can now call myself a world champion.
“It sets me up for bigger and better things in the future. Now here I am fighting in America, June 23 at the MGM Grand. It’s another dream come true.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox