Pick It: TBRB #2 Jason Moloney vs. #4 Vincent Astrolabio (Saturday, ESPN, 10:00 PM EST)

The best fight on the week on paper won’t even be a main event. Instead, this clash for the vacant WBO bantamweight belt will provide chief support to Zhanbiek Alimkhanuly defending the WBO belt against Steven Butler. Size has its privileges but it doesn’t make its fights more interesting.

32-year old Jason Moloney (25-2, 19 KO) will square off with 26-year old Vincent Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KO) and both are on a roll. Moloney has won four in a row since a knockout loss to Naoya Inoue while Astrolabio has won six straight including a victory over Guillermo Rigondeaux. Bantamweight won’t replace Inoue now that he’s off to Jr. featherweight but the talent pool is still interesting, with some fresh matches that might make the remaining pieces more compelling on their own. This has the makings of a very good fight.  

Additional Shows to Watch For

Friday - Clavel vs. Reyes (FITE, 7:00 PM EST)

Just months removed from her first defeat, 32-year old former Jr. flyweight titlist Kim Clavel (16-1, 3 KO) resumes her career sans the WBC belt she lost in a unification battle with Yesica Nery Plata. 28-year old Naomi Reyes (9-2, 5 KO) enters off a loss but has won of her previous five before that inside the distance.

Friday - Casimero vs. Nghitumbwa (FITE, 11:00 PM EST)

34-year old former three-division titlist John Riel Casimero (32-4, 22 KO) went from a pair of Showtime appearances to what seems almost a void in the last couple years. Fighting only once since a 2021 win over Guillermo Rigondeaux, Casimero let his bantamweight belt slip away outside the ring and hasn’t found footing at Jr. featherweight yet. 27-year old Fillipus Nghitumbwa (12-1, 11 KO) has only lost his pro debut and has a chance to make a leap forward in his career.  

Saturday - Maigwisya vs. Cinqueoncie (DAZN, 11:00 AM EST)

Light heavyweight hopefuls get the main event here. 21-year old Luca Cinqueoncie (16-0, 11 KO) will be at home in Germany as he continues his early development. 24-year old Joseph Maigwisya (7-0, 4 KO) makes his first start outside of his native Tanzania.

Saturday - Romero vs. Barroso (Showtime, 9:00 PM EST)

In a division as talented as Jr. welterweight, should one of its vacant belts be on the line in a fight featuring a guy with no significant wins coming off a knockout loss at lightweight? No, but sanctioning bodies aren’t meritocracies and 27-year old Rolly Romero (14-1, 12 KO) boosted his star in that loss to Gervonta Davis. He was set to challenge Alberto Puello for the WBA strap but Puello failed a test so here we are. Put aside the title implications and the other question is whether this will be a good fight. It could be. 40-year old Ismael Barroso (24-3-2, 22 KO), like Romero, can crack and Barroso has won four in a row. It will be bombs away while it lasts.  

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com