Jason Moloney is confident that the third time will be a charm.
The goal of becoming a first-time bantamweight titlist is well within reach for the still relevant contender, who is a win away from reentering the title mix. Moloney will next face Thailand’s Nawaphon Kaikanha (56-1-1, 46KOs; b/k/a Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai) in a WBC title eliminator set for October 15 at Rod Laver Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
The winner will become the mandatory challenger for the WBC bantamweight title.
“I’m extremely excited and motivated to be in this position,” Moloney told BoxingScene.com. “I really feel like this is my time. I have learned a lot from my previous setbacks and I have continued to work hard and strived to get better and better every day. I really believe that I have what it takes to beat everyone in the 118-pound division.”
The current WBC bantamweight title claimant is unified WBA/WBC/IBF titlist Naoya Inoue (23-0, 20KO), who owns a knockout win over Moloney. However, the pound-for-pound entrant is expected to move up in weight sometime after his upcoming undisputed championship showdown with WBO titlist Paul Butler (34-2, 15KOs) in December.
Inoue is heavily favored to beat Butler and become Japan’s first-ever undisputed champion in the multi-belt era. The fight and that piece of history is the only reason he is staying put at 118, as he aspires to become a four-division champ.
Such a move will leave the 118-pound division wide open, and with fighters such as Moloney (24-2, 19KOs) poised to usher in a new era. He will have to get past Kaikanha, who has won 20 in a row since his lone career defeat in a March 2017 WBC flyweight title fight.
Moloney is riding a modest but productive three-fight win streak since a seventh-round knockout loss to Inoue in October 2020. Included in that run is a ten-round decision over Joshua Greer last August, allowing the 31-year-old contender to advance to the top of the WBC bantamweight rankings.
“I feel like I am a much more complete fighter now,” said Moloney, who is coming off a third-round knockout of former title challenger Aston Palicte on June 5 in Melbourne. “I am ready to grab this opportunity with both hands, become world champion and become the new king of the bantamweight division.”
Moloney-Kaikanha will serve in supporting capacity to the Devin Haney-George Kambosos undisputed lightweight championship rematch, with the main event airing live on ESPN.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox