FOR talented Melburnian Andrew Moloney, it seems the better the opponent, the better the performance.
It took the undefeated bantamweight just two professional fights to capture state honours, and just five to secure a national title. Moloney is covering distance quickly and is eager to secure another marquee win.
The 25-year-old twin makes the first defence of his WBA Oceania bantamweight title against rugged former two-time world title challenger Jether Oliva (24-6-2, 11 KOs) at the Melbourne Park Function Centre on Saturday night.
Fresh off an impressive first round finish of Markquil Salvana last time out, Moloney (9-0, 5 KOs) is looking to secure the biggest win of his professional career against a fighter few would expect him to face this early.
When speaking to the Mooroolbark resident, it’s clear that the ease his most recent win came as a surprise.
“I had a bit of an odd night, I was expecting a tough fight from Salvana,” recalls Moloney. “Jason had previously fought him a couple of months beforehand – and he gave Jason a tough fight – until his eye started to close,”
“They (Salvana’s team) made the call as he wanted to fight me and he had to drop down in weight. He ended up coming in a little bit over the bantamweight limit and I was expecting a pretty tough fight from him.”
“It only went for a minute – I caught him with the uppercut – and that was the end. I was pretty happy with how it all ended, I can’t complain with an early night but I was just a bit shocked it ended that way,”
“It was just awesome to get the opportunity to fight at Hisense Arena. I love fighting on big cards, you can’t beat the atmosphere, it’s awesome to be apart of it. I feel I just get up more for those big occasions.”
Despite having captured a slew of titles in the paid ranks, Moloney, who is a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist, is yet to break into the top fifteen bantamweight ratings in one of the four major sanctioning bodies.
However, a win over Oliva, who has pushed several world level fighters the distance, including Mexican Pedro Guevara and world titleholders Moruti Mthalane and Ulises Solis, will change things quickly for the Melburnian.
“I haven’t been rated as yet,” said Moloney about his journey with the WBA. “I haven’t defended my title yet, this will be my first defense. I’m really hoping that this defense will get me rated in the top fifteen,”
“If this gets me into the ratings, I’m hoping it will be a bit easier to get some bigger fights next year.”
While it is clear that Moloney has one eye on finishing the year impressively, he knows it all starts with Oliva.
Funnily enough, Moloney and his looming opponent share a common recent opponent, being the South Korea-based Pakistani Muhammad Waseem, who Moloney beat in the final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“He has fought for a world title on two occasions, he is very experienced,” said Moloney of the General Santos City-based Oliva. “I watched a few of his fights – he moves well – but he doesn’t do anything I haven’t seen before.”
“But he comes with a lot of experience and I’m definitely expecting a tough fight. In his last fight, he fought for the WBC Silver title against a fighter I fought in the final of the Commonwealth Games, Muhammad Waseem.”
“He lost that fight on points, but that interests me a bit as well, just him fighting Waseem,”
“I’d like to get in there and be more convincing than what he was.” he admitted.
For Moloney, it is all about building the necessary foundations in which an eventual world title bid can built from. This means the right fights, at the right time, and most importantly against quality and capable opponents.
“Being in there with a guy that has fought for a world title twice makes me feel like I’m moving in the right direction,” he said, “I’m just trying to improve as a fighter and step up with each fight as they come,”
“The last couple of fights have been a bit shorter,” he concluded. “I’m just looking forward to doing ten rounds and I’m really just hoping I can work my way into the top fifteen. I’ve been working hard in this training camp,”
“I hope it all comes together on the night, which I’m sure it will. I’m looking forward to staying undefeated.”
Photo: Justin Gan/East End Boxing