WBO bantamweight world champion Jason Moloney defends his title against Yoshiki Takei on the Naoya Inoue-Luis Nery undercard at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on May 6. 

Moloney (27-2, 19 KOs) was expected to join his fellow Australians on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-George Kambosos Jr bill a week later in Perth, Australia.  

“It was probably the first fight of my career where people were surprised by the announcement,” Moloney told BoxingScene. “Normally in the boxing industry once a fight is announced, everybody has known about it for a month or two. 

“Everyone, including myself, expected me to be on the Kambosos-Lomachenko card, but obviously this opportunity came up. It was a hard decision to make, both very good opportunities. 

“We had to make a decision as a team on which was the best way to go. I obviously wanted to fight in Australia and have a first defense on home soil. It was just too big of an opportunity to turn down, to be a part of the biggest event in Japanese boxing history in front of 55,000 people. How many people can say that they fought in front of 55,000 people in their career? We just couldn’t refuse. The homecoming is something that is always there. I’ve fought many times in Australia, and as much as I love doing that, I’ve always wanted to fight in Japan. The pound-for-pound No. 1 and four world titles on one show, it’s massive. 

“I think it’s a bigger fight and probably a harder fight than the one in Australia. If I can put in a good performance, maybe I can headline my own show in Australia.”

Takei (8-0, 8 KOs) turned professional in 2021 following a successful career as kickboxer and has been fast-tracked to a world title opportunity with Moloney. 

“It’s high risk, high reward and fight that moves me right up the ladder and should open up some big doors,” Moloney continued. “Obviously he is not very experienced, people will look at his record and see that he is only 8-0. He’s won all his fights by knockout, which is impressive. He hasn’t fought world-level opposition as of yet as a boxer, but obviously he’s an experienced guy and world champion as a kickboxer. 

“I guess they feel that his skills as a kickboxer have transitioned and is of benefit to him. His team obviously believe in him from what they see in the gym as well. They are going to think he is good if they are chucking him into a world title fight in his ninth fight. They are bringing me over to fight in his backyard, I know he’ll be hungry to become a champion. 

“I think that he’s never fought a guy like me, and as I said I’m preparing for a very hard fight. I think stylistically he does bring a bit to the table. He is a knockout puncher and quite a tricky customer. Some of the punches he throws, he has a bit of an awkward style. Maybe that’s from his kickboxing background, he jumps in at a wide distance and stuff. He’s the sort of guy you have to respect and be focused at all times. Bruno [Tarimo] said he had incredible power, Bruno really struggled with him and was stopped with a cut in the 11th round. With respect to Bruno, I don’t think he fought the right fight and I don’t think that was the best Bruno on the night. I see Bruno in the gym and I know what he’s capable of.”

Moloney will make his Japanese debut in May, but has already been subject to his own fanfare from Japanese fight fans. 

“He was a world champion kickboxer, I imagine he is somewhat of a big deal over in Japan,” Moloeny added. “I’m not too sure how popular he is, but I seem to be getting some respect from Japanese boxing fans on Twitter, or X. They seem very excited, which is awesome. I was pretty surprised to see the support I had over there when I went over for a training camp [with Tomoki Kameda]. Hopefully I can gain a lot of new Japanese fans with a great performance. And hopefully they are not too upset about me beating their countryman.”