Andrew Moloney has taken aim at another 115-pound champion now that his rivalry with Joshua Franco is behind him.
The Australian contender called out WBO junior bantamweight champion Kazuto Ioka following his dominant 10-round victory over Froilan Saludar last Tuesday night in Sydney. Moloney is the WBO’s 13th-ranked contender for Ioka’s title, though he figures to move up in the WBO’s ratings now that he has won a fight since Franco defeated him by unanimous decision in their third bout August 14 in at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I believe I’m world-title caliber,” Moloney said in the ring following his win against Saludar. “I’ve been world champion before, so I wanna get back to there as soon as possible. The WBO is the route we wanna go. I hope I can get a fight with Kazuto Ioka as soon as possible.”
The 30-year-old Moloney looked sharp in defeating Saludar, who once fought for the WBO flyweight title. The resilient Filipino fighter displayed remarkable durability by lasting all 10 rounds against Moloney, who spent most of their bout pounding away at his 32-year-old opponent with hard head and body shots.
Moloney (22-2, 14 KOs, 1 NC) defeated Saludar (32-5-1, 22 KOs) by scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 98-91. The former champion joked that Saludar’s head “must be made of concrete or something” because his stubborn opponent never went down during their one-sided battle.
“Very happy to finish off the year with a big win and to set up a really big 2022,” Moloney said. “So, that was the aim tonight, to try and get the world title as soon as possible next year. And hopefully, this goes a long way to doing that.”
Ioka (27-2, 15 KOs) is scheduled to make an optional defense of his WBO belt against another Japanese fighter, sixth-ranked Ryoji Fukunaga (15-4, 14 KOs), on December 31 at Ota-City Gymnasium in their hometown of Tokyo.
Moloney, who also is ranked fourth by the WBA and 10th by the WBC, has lost only to Franco.
San Antonio’s Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs, 1 NC) took the WBA’s world super flyweight title from Moloney when he narrowly won a unanimous decision in June 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Their immediate rematch resulted in a controversial no-contest because what was ruled an accidental clash of heads prevented Franco from continuing during the second round in November 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.