ANDREW Moloney faced his first chin check as a professional.
To the delight of his team and avid supporters, he passed the test, surviving a third round knockdown to rally for an impressive fourth round stoppage over dangerous Filipino livewire Raymond Tabugon (now 20-8-1, 10 KOs) at the Melbourne Park Function Centre on Saturday night.
Moloney (now 14-0, 9 KOs) showed why he is considered by some as the future of the lighter weight classes in Australian boxing, answering a tonne of questions about his fighting heart and ability to compete against adversity. The 26-year-old climbed off the canvas to pick up the vacant WBA Oceania and OPBF Silver titles in his first professional appearance as a super flyweight.
In an equally competitive and see-sawing battle, Moloney and Tabugon wasted little time as the fleet-footed duo competed for dominance of the centre ring. The former Commonwealth Games gold medallist stuck to the strict game plan voiced by head trainer Angelo Hyder, which primarily consisted of jabs and circular movement.
Not surprisingly, Tabugon opted to chase his more favoured counterpart while looking for an opportunity to plant his feet and trade in the pocket. After two relatively cautious rounds, the pair threw caution to the wind, opting to trade body shots in both the centre of the ring and on the ropes. The typically operatic Moloney looked like he wanted to prove a point in his first outing at super flyweight, and did so, landing his trademark left hook with alarming efficiency.
The scheduled ten round fight never looked like going the distance and the knockdowns proved to be inevitable. It was Tabugon who struck first, flooring Moloney with a short counter hook on the inside. Moloney took his time rising, before signalling to his corner that he was okay.
Less than three minutes later – he returned the favour – trapping Tabugon in his own corner before flooring the Filipino with a series of unanswered blows that starting with an attack to the body.
Tabugon’s durability and resistance ended up costing him the fight as referee Ignatius Missailidis was left with no option but to halt proceedings as the hard-hitting import was unable to defend himself.
In the evenings other title fight, Jason Moloney was pushed to decision by a tricky Lolito Sonsona over the full ten round duration.
The bigger Moloney brother (now 14-0, 11 KOs) was awarded an unanimous decision verdict over the tougher-than-expected Sonsona (now 21-2-4, 9 KOs) by scores of 100-90 twice and 99-91, which arguably don’t reflect the closeness of the fight itself.
The win gives Moloney a fifth successful defence of his WBA Oceania strap, as the aggressive prospect surges towards an eventual title eliminator for the WBA super bantamweight title, presently held by super champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and regular titleholder Shun Kub.
A delighted Tony Tolj, who manages both of the Moloney brothers, was clearly ecstatic about the performances put together by both Andrew and Jason.
“Both boys put together outstanding performances,” said Tolj. “Jason put on a clinic and went ten rounds for the first time in his career, while Andrew faced adversity with a knockdown – but when the time came for a question of his heart in the ring – all questions were answered.”
“It was a flash knockdown and Andrew recovered very quickly,” he quipped. “He had the poise of a thirty fight veteran. The knockdown, recovery along with the finish showed me something that cannot be taught, heart. Andrew showed a truck load of heart and finishing instincts and the next round ‘The Monster’ was unleashed.”
“I personally received messages from New Zealand and Panama from my WBA family calling it the Round of the Year. Andrew made the weight comfortably – and to be honest – I’ve never seen him so happy at a weigh-in.”
Tolj will now open negotiations with multiple international promoters, including a variety of Japan-based entities as Australia’s best boxing brothers make inroads into a thriving market for lighter weight fighters.
“Jason isn’t very far off at all, those ten rounds were the best thing that could’ve happened to him against a quality opponent, who only had one loss. I am planning on attending the WBA Convention in Colombia to begin talks for a possible title eliminator for him.”
“Japan is notorious for the lighter weights and it’s a great location to be fighting in, they are great honourable people in my experience,” he concluded. “With both boys being OPBF Silver champions – along with their WBA Oceania titles – they will be put directly in line to face the respective OPBF champions in their divisions as mandatory challengers.”
Photo: SAA Imaging for Hosking Promotions