THE spotlight has never been brighter for Jason Moloney.
Tasked with what many have deemed as the toughest assignment in world boxing in Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), the likeable Australian has taken to the challenge with an admirable sense of purpose.
And with the career-best opportunity just days away, Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) is more determined than ever to upset the unified bantamweight kingpin, and secure Australia’s most significant victory in half a century.
“I believe in myself. I’m going to do absolutely whatever it takes to win this fight,” Moloney told a media gathering on Tuesday’s conference call.
“I love being the underdog, and I love proving people wrong. Going out here, and as I’ve said before, shocking the world.
“I know a lot of people don’t give me a chance in this fight, that just gives me extra motivation, extra fire in the belly to go out there and show people what can be done.”
The 29-year-old, who has spent three weeks in Las Vegas alongside twin brother Andrew and unbeaten prospect Vegas Larfield, referenced the accomplishments of stablemate Teofimo Lopez, having upset future Hall of Famer Vasyl Lomachenko earlier this month in the Top Rank bubble, in an equally significant scalp.
“People place some of these fighters, like Inoue and like they did do with Lomachenko on this pedestal,” he explained.
“They think they’re unbeatable, but they’re not. We’re all human, we’ve all got two arms and two legs.
“Everyone has weaknesses, everybody can be beaten. I’m going to go out there and show everybody what belief, hard work and having the guts to be brave enough, and dare to be great.
“I can’t wait to go out there and achieve this. It’s going to be very special. I look forward to proving everyone wrong.”
There are few similarities between Moloney and the unified IBF/WBA titleholder, with the pair sharing only one common opponent, being former IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-1, 12 KOs), who handed Moloney his lone career blemish in 2018.
As Moloney admits, it’s difficult to draw comparisons to his razor-thin decision loss, and Inoue’s short-lived second round knockout of the Puerto Rican — citing his steep learning curve since.
“Even though we share a common opponent, that isn’t exactly how boxing works,” he continued.
“To be honest, that fight was two years ago. If I was to fight Rodriguez now, or even if I was to fight myself from two years ago, I reckon I’d knock both of those guys out too.
“I’m not taking too much away from that common fight or opponent, I know how much I’ve improved over the last two years. This is a completely different animal to the one that Rodriguez fought.”
Despite the boxing lockdown, Moloney is grateful to have been relatively unaffected by the global pandemic, with promoter Top Rank ensuring that their fighter remained active, albeit exclusively from the 12th floor at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
“When the whole pandemic hit, it was a scary thought to think I might’ve been sitting on the sidelines for the rest of the year,” he said.
“It was a scary thought to think what was going to happen. I’m 29 years old, and in the peak of my career, and chomping at the bit to get another chance at a world title, and I can’t fight.
“Thankfully, I’m signed to the best promotional company in the world in Top Rank. They didn’t let the pandemic stop boxing. They brought it back in the bubble and I’ve been given two of the biggest opportunities of my life.
“I took the first opportunity in June with both hands, and had a good performance against Baez. This one is going to be even better. I’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime against Inoue here.”
For Moloney, a win on Sunday afternoon would not only secure his place as the lineal bantamweight champion, but serve as an exclamation point on an already impressive calendar year.
“This is the biggest platform, and this is where I go out and show everyone what I’m capable of doing,” he concluded.
“That’s part of the reason I’m a big underdog. People don’t know what I’m capable of doing inside the ropes.
“There’s no better way, and no better place to show it.”
Photo: Getty Images