Andrew Moloney looks to emulate Jeff Horn title glory Andrew Moloney looks to emulate Jeff Horn title glory
AN unbeaten streak of thirteen consecutive wins wasn’t enough to keep Andrew Moloney at bantamweight. Over three years, the former Commonwealth Games gold medallist... Andrew Moloney looks to emulate Jeff Horn title glory

AN unbeaten streak of thirteen consecutive wins wasn’t enough to keep Andrew Moloney at bantamweight.

Over three years, the former Commonwealth Games gold medallist blitzed through all of his opposition with ease, picking up state title honours in just his second fight. After five fights he was Australian champion after halting reigning champion Roberto Lerio inside four heats.

In a matter of days, Moloney (13-0, 8 KOs) will make his super flyweight debut when he faces the well-travelled Raymond Tabugon for the vacant WBA Oceania and OPBF Silver super flyweight titles at the Melbourne Park Function Centre for Hosking Promotions.

The relocated Melburnian has plans to swiftly challenge for the OPBF throne alongside his twin brother Jason, which is arguably the most legitimate regional title in boxing for the lower weight classes, before breaking into the lucrative Japanese market.

“We’ve been tossing up whether to campaign at bantamweight or super flyweight,” said Moloney to Aus-Boxing. “After the last fight, I don’t know what it is, maybe it was the change in training. We’ve been training a little bit differently. Now we’re up here with Angelo and the last fight we made weight quite comfortably, so we thought we’d look at super flyweight.”

“Then the WBA Oceania belt was vacant at super flyweight so we thought we could trade in the bantamweight one and fight for the super flyweight version,” he continued. “Then we looked Rene Dacquel – who is the OPBF champion at super flyweight – and thought that we could beat him pretty comfortably. So we’re fighting for the OPBF Silver title.”

“Hopefully my next fight can be against him for the full version of the OPBF title and then we can break into the Japanese market and get a few fights over there. It would be an awesome experience for us and the next step up in levels. We’ll have a few defences over there before we start looking at the world scene so that’s the plan.”

Moloney’s opponent on Saturday night is the upset minded Raymond Tabugon (20-7-1, 10 KOs), a fighter who has a track record of being durable at a relatively high level. The 26-year-old hasn’t lost since falling to recently crowned WBC bantamweight champion Luis Nery last December and has scored two quick-fire wins since.

As Moloney admits, Tabugon’s record on paper doesn’t do justice to the challenge he will pose on Saturday night.

“Tabugon has won twenty fights and lost seven,” he explained. “The record doesn’t sound that impressive but his losses have been against Estrada two fights ago and went the distance with him. He’s an absolute beast. Then he’s fought Luis Nery for the WBC Silver title in his fight after that.”

“All his losses have been against guys that are either world champions or very close to so although he’s got seven losses they’ve all been against real, top guys so I’m expecting a pretty tough fight from this guy.”

It is often difficult to truly gauge the success of a weight cut until after fight night, but Moloney and his team – led by head trainer Angelo Hyder and manager Tony Tolj – are happy with what they’re seeing in the gym. Moloney, who was recently crowned the Aus-Boxing Prospect of the Year for his marquee 2016 campaign, is now setting his sights on both the OPBF and Commonwealth super flyweight titles.

“Hopefully I’ll show you on fight night, because I’m feeling really good at the moment,” he quipped. “I think the drop in weight has done me a favour. I could’ve made the weight this morning if I wanted to, my weight’s exactly where we want it and I just feel a bit faster and still feel as strong.”

“I want to keep climbing the ranks in the WBA, but I want to win the OPBF and the Commonwealth titles. Then, we’ll start looking at the world title after that.”

With former amateur teammate Jeff Horn having accomplished the unthinkable with his upset win over Manny Pacquiao in July to secure the WBO welterweight championship, Moloney is looking to secure – and most importantly win – a world title of his own.

“I went to the World Championships as an amateur in 2011 with Jeff,” he concluded. “It was unreal to travel with Jeff and be on the same team as him and see what can be done. He’s only had a couple more fights than we’ve had at the moment.To go on and beat Pacquiao and win a world title in front of a home crowd like that, it’s just amazing.”

“I had tears in my eyes when he won. It was a massive inspiration to see someone that I was on the same team with. If one of us can go on and do something like that, it’s definitely inspiring.”

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Photo: Justin Gan