By Jake Donovan
Jason Moloney has learned to live with the hand he was dealt in a narrow split decision loss to Emmanuel Rodriguez in their thrilling bantamweight title fight last October.
It hasn’t made his viewing of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight semifinals any easier to handle.
The still-very relevant bantamweight contender from Australia came up just short on the scorecards in his title bid versus Rodriguez last October in Orlando, Fla., suffering his lone career defeat in the process. He’s since bounced back with a knockout win and was preparing for his June 15 headliner in Tweed Head, New South Wales when taking in the pair of WBSS semifinals bouts earlier this spring.
In those bouts, Nonito Donaire scored a one-sided 6th round knockout of Stephon Young—a late replacement for injured titlist Zolani Tete—in April, followed by unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16KOs) becoming a three-division titlist following a four-minute destruction of Rodriguez this past May in Glasgow, Scotland.
Inoue and Donaire now await a date and location for their WBSS finals later this year.
“I think Inoue will (beat Donaire) but it's a great fight,” notes Moloney (18-1, 15KOs) ahead of his own fight this weekend, as he faces Tanzania’s Goodluck Mreme. “I wish I could have had the opportunity to fight Inoue as I feel I beat Rodriguez but that is in the past.”
Saturday’s fight with Mreme (23-4, 13KOs)—a very late replacement for Mexico’s Cesar Ramirez—will mark the first for Moloney and twin brother Andrew—an unbeaten super flyweight contender—since inking a promotional deal with Top Rank. The intention is to be ready for a bantamweight title fight by year’s end, be it versus the winner of Inoue-Donaire or simply positioning himself for such a big fight in the first part of 2020.
“Firstly, I'm not overlooking my task on June 15,” notes Moloney, who is coming off of a 5th round stoppage of Cris Paulino in this very town this past March. “I have a tough opponent and I want to put on a show as this could be the last time I fight in Australia for the foreseeable future.
“I want world titles this year so for me a fight with the WBA number one (former 115-pound titlist Liborio) Solis for the world title is one that I would love. There is talk of (lineal 122-pound champion Guillermo) Rigondeaux fighting at bantamweight too and if I had to fight him I would do happily.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox