Jason Moloney wouldn’t have it any other way.

The first Fight of the Year candidate was produced in Moloney’s thrilling twelve-round, majority decision win over California’s Saul Sanchez. Moloney was pushed to the limit by the first-time challenger to make the first defense of his IBF bantamweight title this past Saturday at Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada.

“It was a very tough night at the office. It was the best fight I’ve ever been involved in,” Moloney told Boxing News’ Andi Purewal after the fight while awaiting his delayed flight home. “I’m very happy to have come out on top and walk away with the win.”

Judge Jean Gauthier (114-114) had the fight even after twelve rounds. Moloney (27-2, 19KOs) won the last two rounds on that scorecard, while he already had the fight won on the scorecards of Richard Blouin (116-112) and Richard De Carufel (116-112) headed into the eleventh round, which he swept on the cards. He won the twelfth round on two of the three scorecards to seal the win and retain the title he won last May 13 in Stockton, California.

“I know it was a close fight but I thought I won the championship rounds,” noted Moloney. “When the fight was on the line, I showed how bad I wanted it.

“It was a solid test, Sanchez came to test. We stepped it up, took control of the fight, finished strong and walked away with my belt.”

Next up is his second title defense targeted to land on the George Kambosos-Vasiliy Lomachenko vacant IBF lightweight title on May 12 in Perth, Australia. There was concern about Moloney’s cut over his right eye and multiple bruises not healing in time, though his team informed BoxingScene.com that it is not at all believed to be a concern.

A challenger is not yet determined.

“For now, we’d like to come back in May. I would love to defend my title in Australia,” stated Moloney. “Obviously, there is talk of Kambosos and Lomachenko. It’s perfect timing. I have a week or two rest, and then back in training for a big fight in Australia.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox