Jason Moloney’s stoppage of Leonardo Baez on Thursday night moved him closer to a second world title shot.
The Australian contender likely will become the WBO’s number one challenger for Johnriel Casimero’s bantamweight championship because the boxer currently in the top spot, Joshua Greer Jr., lost a majority decision to Mike Plania on June 16. The 29-year-old Moloney also is ranked third by the WBA and fourth by both the IBF and WBC.
Naoya Inoue, the IBF and WBA champion, is co-promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., which also represents Moloney.
The title unification bout between Japan’s Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) and the Philippines’ Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) could be rescheduled next. If not, Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) would welcome another title shot now that he has beaten Baez (18-3, 9 KOs, 1 NC).
“[I want] any champion, really,” Moloney told BoxingScene.com. “I just want to be world champion. I just want that opportunity. If I’m ranked number one, yeah, Casimero, let’s go!”
Whatever is next for Moloney, his recent victory in Las Vegas was an important moment for his family. He sat ringside earlier that week and watched his twin brother, Andrew, lose his WBA world super flyweight title to Joshua Franco.
San Antonio’s Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) opened a cut above Andrew Moloney’s left eye in the 10th round, scored a knockdown in the 11th and narrowly won a 12-round unanimous decision at MGM Grand Conference Center. Andrew Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) suffered his first professional defeat to Franco.
Jason Moloney returned to that same ring two nights later, busted up a bigger, stubborn Baez and made his opponent’s cornermen stop their scheduled 10-rounder after the seventh round.
“That’s the best moment of my career so far,” Jason Moloney said. “It’s been tough being over here, being away from my wife and the family for so long, and then watching my brother lose his world title. I just wanted to have a smile and leave here with happy memories. I’ve just taken a big step in my career to fight for another world title. I’m just so happy.”
Jason Moloney has won four straight fights, each by knockout or technical knockout, since Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez edged him by split decision in their 12-round fight for the IBF belt Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs) later lost to Inoue. Moloney won that October 2018 bout on one scorecard (115-113), but he lost by the same score on the other two cards in Orlando, Florida.
His victory Thursday night was as much for his brother as for him.
“I just said, ‘I love you. You’ll be back. And we can do this,’ ” Jason Moloney said of the conversation he had with his brother after battering Baez. “We worked so hard together. And, you know, it’s a setback for him, obviously, losing this fight over here. But I’ve been there. I’ve lost a world title fight before myself. And, you know, nothing can stop us. We just have to keep working, and he’ll be back. So, I just reminded him that, you know, ‘We can do this, and I love you.’
“He just said, ‘I love you and I’m proud of you.’ We’re not that sort of emotional guys towards each other. We don’t really tell each other we love each other much. But this was a big night for us.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.