Moloney seeks KO to signal year of mayhem ahead

Murray Wenzel |

Jason Moloney is hellbent on a knockout when he fights Saul Sanchez in Quebec City next weekend.
Jason Moloney is hellbent on a knockout when he fights Saul Sanchez in Quebec City next weekend.

Jason Moloney hasn’t missed Christmas with his kids for nothing.

There’s an edge to the understated WBO bantamweight champion, who flew to Las Vegas for tough festive-season sparring to ensure he’s best prepared to defend the belt in Canada this weekend.

It meant the father of two had to watch his kids open their presents on FaceTime.

That hurt is being channelled into a statement performance against California’s Saul Sanchez (20-2) next Sunday (AEST) in Quebec City, on the undercard to the three-belt light heavyweight title bout between Artur Beterbiev and Callum Smith.

“My eldest is four-and-a-half, loves Christmas. If you really think about what you’re missing out on it really hurts,” Moloney (26-2) told AAP before he shifts camp to Quebec on Tuesday.

“But you block it out and think about what I’m really here for.”

Naoya Inoue, one of only two men to stop Moloney, has risen a division to become a two-weight undisputed king and leave the bantamweight crown open to all comers.

Moloney, 32, is rated the best of them by the respected Ring Magazine and has grand plans for 2024, after a hand injury restricted him to just one fight in 2023.

“There’s always questions and different opinions with other guys holding belts,” he said.

“It’s about having a statement win here, to cement myself at No.1 in the division.

“Taking out the others is what we want to do and that’s why I wanted to start the year early, with a bang.”

Top Rank promoting legend Bob Arum has promised Moloney and twin brother Andrew – brutally stopped in the 12th round by Junto Nakatani fighting for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight title last year – a co-headline act on home soil.

Moloney knows knockouts, something he’s only managed once in his last seven fights, are Arum’s preferred currency.

“Hopefully that will be next, mate,” Moloney said of a title defence in Australia on the same card as his brother. 

“I love knockouts. I really want to make this one a statement victory.

“I just think I’m levels above him (Sanchez) and I don’t want to let these guys fight their fight or give them any confidence.

“I want to show him pretty early that he’s out of his depth.”

Jason’s loss came a week after Andrew beat Vincent Astrolabio in Sacramento last May to capture the belt and meant he couldn’t truly celebrate his achievement.

The brothers will reunited this week in the final stages of training and stop over in Hawaii on the way home to finally toast the title and plot their next move.