WBO bantamweight world champion Jason Moloney will make the next defense of his title in Tokyo, Japan.

Moloney (27-2, 19 KOs) will take on undefeated Yoshiki Takei on the undercard for the May 6 Naoya Inoue-Luis Nery fight. The news came as something of a surprise after it was largely reported that Australia’s Moloney would be joining the supporting cast on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-George Kambosos Jr. bill the following weekend in Perth, Australia. 

“It’s an awesome opportunity for Jason,” Tony Tolj, Moloney’s manager, told BoxingScene. “Japanese boxing is flourishing at the minute, especially in the lower weights. At bantamweight, you have two Japanese champions in Junto Nakatani with the WBC and Takuma Inoue, who has the WBA title. You also have [Ryosuke] Nishida, who fights the IBF champ Emmanuel Rodriguez, happening in Japan two days before.”

It was Rodriguez who handed Moloney his first defeat, in 2018, in a narrow split decision, and Tolj says his fighter is “most eager” to get an opportunity to avenge that loss. Add it to Moloney’s growing wish list.

Somewhere near the top is Moloney’s desire to make a title defense in his homeland, which he  has been vocal about. It was reported that the Lomachenko-Kambosos card would provide the perfect opportunity, but in this case, Tolj says his fighter had good reasons for opting for the Japanese capital instead.

“All Jason has ever wanted is to be given an opportunity to be on that big platform,” Tolj said. “He’s going to be fighting in front of 55,000 Japanese people at the historic Tokyo Dome. We love the Japanese people, we respect their honor and tradition. To fight there is one thing in itself, but from a management point of view, it can open a multitude of unification fights, especially if 75 percent of the belts are in that country.

“Obviously we are not looking past Takei – he’s got eight fights with eight knockout wins. He’s a former K1 champion who switched to boxing. We know a lot about him; he defeated Jason’s stablemate and a guy I manage just over a year ago. Bruno [Tarimo] gave him a good fight, but he was stopped in the 11th; he was unlucky with a cut.”

Moloney claimed his title with a majority decision win over Vincent Astrolabio in Stockton, California, last May. He made the first defense of his belt in January on the Artur Beterbiev-Callum Smith undercard in Quebec City, Canada.

“Initially, we turned down the fight in Japan while we were in Hawaii, after the Canada defense,” Tolj said. “He was desperate to fight at home – that is all he wanted to do – so we turned it down. We respectfully declined and said that we would rather fight for less money in Australia. We had another offer come in after that, then another offer, we had to look at it. The fact that it was this type of show, and you have another bantamweight champion on the card, there were just so many plus points – we had to take the fight.”