By David Finger
For Australian boxing fans there is arguably no hotter prospect than undefeated bantamweight Jason Moloney (16-0, 13 KOs). Moloney began turning heads when, in only his fifth professional fight, he captured the WBA Oceania super bantamweight title against fellow undefeated prospect Markquil Salvana. Since then he defended the WBA Oceania title five times before moving down to bantamweight, where he quickly won the vacant WBA Oceania bantamweight belt against Julias Kisarawe in October of 2017.
But although Moloney has looked dominant against respectable opposition there had always been that one question that hung over his head. The one question that every young fighter has to answer before they can move from prospect to champion: what happens when he steps up?
Well, Australia…on May 19th you should have your answer. Undefeated Jason Moloney will take a step up into the major leagues when he defends his WBA Oceania title against former two-time world champion Kohei Kono (33-11-1, 14 KOs) in Victoria, Australia.
Kono, a 36-year old veteran from Japan, won his first world title in 2012 when he knocked out Panthep Mullipoom in four rounds for the WBA super flyweight title. After dropping the belt in his next fight Kono regained his belt in March of 2014 when he scored an impressive knockout over 66-fight veteran Sutep Wangmuk in eight rounds. Kono would successfully defend his world title three times before dropping a decision to Luis Concepcion in 2016. He followed the loss to Concepcion with a fight against undefeated countryman Naoya Inoue in a fight for the WBO championship later that year (getting stopped in six rounds) before losing a seven round technical decision against #1 ranked Rex Tso last year. Although the 36-year old Kono does seem to be on the downswing, the competitive nature of his fight with Tso also proves that he still brings a lot to the table…certainly enough to derail Moloney if the undefeated Australian isn’t the real deal.
“This is another big step up for me but one which I believe we are definitely ready for,” Moloney told Fightnews. “This is a very important fight for me as I need to prove that I can beat this top level of opposition and prove that I belong among the best bantamweights in the world.”
Moloney nonetheless remains confident and feels he has the tools to counter the Japanese veteran.
“Kono is a very tough and experienced fighter,” Jason said of his opponent. “He is generally very aggressive and likes to throw a lot of punches. However, I am extremely motivated and determined. I believe that with my skills, the team I have around me, and by sticking to our game plan that nobody can beat me. I am willing to do whatever it takes to win this fight and take another step towards achieving my dream of becoming world champion.”
Make no mistake, for WBO #7 and WBA #4 ranked Jason Moloney, he will get his chance to back up his claim and prove he is ready for the big leagues. On May 19th boxing fans all over the Pacific will know what he can do against a world class opponent…one who was wearing a world title belt around his waist just two years ago. It’s a situation that is not lost on the young prospect.
“Winning this fight will show that I am ready to become a world champion.”