Andrew Moloney remains focused on a specific target for his first fight of the new year.
The former junior junior bantamweight title holder continues to campaign for a showdown with Japan’s four division division Kazuto Ioka and reigning 115-pound WBO titlist. The dream was kept alive after Ioka retained his title for the fourth time with a 12-lap win over compatriot Ryoji Fukunaga last New Year’s Eve in Tokyo.
Australia’s Moloney announced ahead of the fight that he was very interested in taking on Ioka – or Fukunaga, if he’d been upset – and has doubled down on that request as he charts plans for the year ahead.
“I really hope I get the chance to fight Ioka in 2022,” Moloney told BoxingScene.com. “I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter and for what he has achieved, but I believe I have what it takes to take that world title away from him.
“Australia and Japan have a great boxing history and I hope Ioka and I can add something to this.”
Moloney (22-2, 14KOs; 1ND) did his part to position himself for another title run after returning to the win column in his most recent appearance. The 30-year-old Aussie – whose twin brother Jason is one of the top bantamweights – triumphed in a ten round, unanimous decision victory over Filipino Froilan Saludar last December 21 in Sydney.
The win over Saludar came ten days prior to Ioka’s win over Fukunaga, giving Moloney time to enjoy a much-needed round of victory and then settle in to explore his desired future competition. Ioka was a little deliberate in his approach to Fukunaga, a late replacement for IBF junior bantamweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas, who had to pull out of the planned title unification due to Japan’s Covid-related decision to close the borders to foreign travelers.
“This was a strange fight because every round was very close, but I felt Ioka was winning almost all rounds,” Moloney noted. “Ioka was conservative, he was in control and very accurate with the punches he threw, but seemed happy to do just enough to win the rounds without completely dominating.
“I felt like Fukunaga let Ioka set the pace and control the fight. I think he would have had a lot more success if he had increased his work pace like he did when he was around 11 and 12.
Ioka (28-2, 15KOs) wants to rethink plans for clash with Ancajas (33-1-2, 22KOs), who will face Argentina’s Fernando Daniel Martinez (13-0, 8KOs) for the first time on February 19 at a location in the US. certain. Ancjas also faces a potential mandatory title defense against the winner of an approved title eliminator between Jade Bornea (16-0, 10KOs) and Mohammad Obbadi (22-1, 13KOs), taking place January 14 in Monterrey, Mexico.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox