Jason Moloney has landed an ideal fight at the perfect time in his career.
The still-relevant bantamweight contender gets a home fight for the first time since the pandemic. His bout with fellow former title challenger Aston Palicte takes place this weekend at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia (Saturday, ESPN, 9:00 p.m. ET/Sunday morning locally). A win by Moloney (23-2, 18KOs) will put the local hero in line for a third shot at a bantamweight title.
The timing couldn't be better, with the biggest fight in the division taking place less than three days later. WBA/IBF bantamweight champ Naoya Inoue (22-0, 19KOs) and WBC titlist Nonito Donaire (42-6, 28KOs) collide in a three-belt unification bout Tuesday in Saitama, Japan.
“I’ll be keeping a close eye on that fight,” Moloney noted during Thursday’s final pre-fight press conference at Richmond Rowing Club, just 15 minutes from the site of this weekend’s event. “I’m ranked well with all of the sanctioning bodies. I’m ready to become champion, that’s the intention.”
Moloney—who grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Mitcham—has suffered his only two career defeats at the title level. His first title bid also doubled as a U.S. debut, when Moloney came up just short against Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez in their October 2018 IBF title fight between unbeaten bantamweights.
Four wins followed before Moloney challenged Inoue, against whom he suffered a seventh-round stoppage in their October 2020 title fight in Las Vegas. Moloney has since won his last two starts, most notably a ten-round decision win over Joshua Greer Jr. last August in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Palicte (28-4-1, 23KOs) enters riding a three-fight win streak. The 31-year-old from Bago City, Philippines held legendary countryman Donnie Nietes to a twelve-round draw in their September 2018 vacant WBO junior bantamweight title. The same belt was at stake in a June 2019 clash with Japan’s Kazuto Ioka, who stopped Palicte in the tenth round to become a four-division titlist.
Moloney envisions the challenge that Palicte brings as the final step to re-entering the title picture.
“Whether it’s the winner of [Inoue-Donaire 2] or with the new WBO champion Paul Butler, I’m ready for any of them,” vowed Moloney.
The scheduled ten-round bantamweight bout serves as the chief support to the undisputed lightweight championship between Sydney’s lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO champ George Kambosos Jr. (20-0, 10KOs) and Las Vegas-based WBC titlist Devin Haney (27-0, 15KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox