Jason Moloney has not given up on the idea of a fight versus Nonito Donaire.
It would have to come in the form of a bantamweight title unification bout, provided that Donaire beats Alexandro Santiago in their vacant WBC title fight this Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Australia’s Moloney—who holds the WBO belt—envisions that very scenario.
“This is an interesting fight and definitely one that I’ll be keeping a close eye on,” Moloney told BoxingScene.com. “I think anytime that Donaire fights now at age 40, there is always going to be the question of how much does he have left?
“Personally, I think he still has enough and I expect him to win this one. “If he’s victorious then I would love to set up a unification fight with Donaire so I hope he gets the job done.”
The bout comes as a consolation prize for Donaire (42-7, 28KOs), who previously targeted a fight versus Moloney (26-2, 19KOs) when the matchup was ordered by the WBC last November during its annual convention. Talks were on hold until after Naoya Inoue’s eventual eleventh-round knockout of Paul Butler to fully unify the division last December before he abdicated the throne in January.
All four belts were made available, with Donaire-Moloney as by far the sexiest vacant title fight of the bunch. Both fighters were keen on the bout, but Top Rank—who has promoted Moloney and his twin brother Andrew since 2019—opted to have its fighter head in a different direction.
Moloney went to face and beat the Philippines’ Vincent Astrolabio via twelve-round decision in their vacant WBO bantamweight title fight on May 13 in Stockton, California.
Donaire was due to face Mexico’s Santiago on July 15 but the bout was pushed back two weeks to help fill a void on the Errol Spence-Terence Crawford Showtime Pay-Per-View undercard from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. A win on Saturday will see the 40-year-old Donaire—a Fil-Am star who lives and trains in Vegas—once again break his own record as the oldest fighter ever to win a bantamweight title.
He set the mark in November 2018, with a fourth-round injury stoppage of Ryan Burnett to win the WBA belt just shy of his 36th birthday. Doniare lost the title to Inoue in their terrific November 2019 clash but then—at age 38—annihilated unbeaten Nordine Oubaali inside of four rounds to lift the same WBC title for which he competes this weekend.
Santiago enters as a first-time title challenger.
“I think Santiago will try and bring pressure and attempt to outwork Donaire but I think Donaire may be too clever,” believes Moloney, who has won five straight since a seventh-round knockout to Inoue in their October 2020 WBA/IBF title fight. “Nonito is good at reading a predictable fighter and setting traps. I think we may see another signature left hook victory from Donaire."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox