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Khalid Yafai’s major move to snub Andrew Moloney

Khalid Yafai’s major move to snub Andrew Moloney

SINCE lifting an interim version of the super flyweight championship, Andrew Moloney has been in pole position to challenge reigning WBA titleholder Khalid Yafai.

Despite Moloney’s status as an assumed mandatory for the unbeaten Englishman, it appears that the Birmingham-based Yafai will bypass the Australian to pursue a high-profile fight with former consensus pound-for-pound ruler, Román González.

Promotional giant Matchroom Boxing and its figurehead Eddie Hearn, who have promoted Yafai since his professional debut, have gone on record, voicing their interest in securing a fight with the Nicaraguan next month.

Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs) was originally slated to face Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3, 27 KOs), who holds the WBC title, but missed out on the chance to unify after Estrada withdrew from their January date due to injury.

“Kal was very unlucky. Kal was signed and confirmed to fight Juan Estrada in a unification fight in Miami on January 30th,” Hearn told IFL TV.

“All of a sudden, get the phone call, another one of those dreaded phone calls… bad news, Estrada has busted his hand. He needs an operation [and] he’s not going to be available until May. This was the one fight we really wanted for Kal.

“It was his chance to go out there and have that flagship fight, that big money fight, so now I’m thinking what can we do. Now, January 30th starts to pass us by. It’s been six months since he’s boxed.

“Now we move onto Chocolatito (Román González) and this is the fight I’m trying to make for now, February 29th on the Mikey Garcia card in Dallas.”

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The 32-year-old González, who has held major belts in three divisions, would be the biggest fight available for Yafai, given his familiarity to American audiences, having been promotionally packaged with middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin.

Hearn went as far as to signal his plans for Yafai’s next two fights, offering González as an immediate showcase, which would ultimately raise the stakes for an inevitable clash with Estrada at some point this year.

“That Chocolatito fight is really a break-out fight,” he continued.

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“It’s a mega-fight, and if you (Yafai) can beat Chocolatito, he goes into the Estrada fight in great shape in terms of his earning potential, in terms of his star power.

“In my opinion, he’s not the fighter he was three years ago. He’s just had a good win by stoppage, very dangerous, huge name [and] legend in boxing terms. Just a great fight for Kal Yafai. A great fight, a great occassion.

“I’m very proud of Kal and the job we’ve done with him, in the sense that he’s another one of those guys that we took from debut from the podium squad, to the world championship, and for a super flyweight, has earned a hell of a lot of money.

“He’s had five defences of his WBA world title, but now this is the fight that is going to secure him financially, but also the up-side of the win.

“The Estrada fight, a really tough fight, a chance to unify, but this fight if you win, makes the Estrada fight a big main event fight in America.”

The aforementioned scenario would likely remove Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs) from any immediate meeting with Yafai. However, the probability of an eventual promotion to the WBA’s regular belt looms as a probable alternative.

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