All eyes on Moloney in historic Tokyo title fight

Murray Wenzel |

Jason Moloney will defend his world title in front of 55,000 people at the Tokyo Dome.
Jason Moloney will defend his world title in front of 55,000 people at the Tokyo Dome.

Tantalising unification bouts await if Australian road warrior Jason Moloney can defend his world title again in front of a history-making Japanese crowd in Tokyo.

The 33-year-old fights former kickboxing champion Yoshiki Takei at the sold-out 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome on Monday.

It’s believed no Australian has fought in front of more spectators, Australia’s only current male world boxing champion set for an unprecedented profile boost in the centre of the lighter-weight boxing universe.

Four title belts will go on the line, headlined by pound-for-pound superstar Naoya Inoue’s clash with Luis Nery in boxing’s return to the building for the first time since Mike Tyson’s shock loss to Buster Douglas in 1990.

Kingscliff-based Moloney (27-2) defended his belt in Canada with a brutal, tight points win over Saul Sanchez in January.

Victory on Monday could set him up for a rematch with Puerto Rico’s IBF champion Manny Rodriguez, who beat Moloney in a split points decision for the same belt he has since won back.

He puts his strap on the line against Ryosuke Nishida in Osaka this weekend, a loss meaning Moloney would be left as the only non-Japanese bantamweight world champion.

Takuma Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya, holds the WBA strap and fights Sho Ishida on Monday.

Naoya was the last man to beat Moloney in 2020, while Moloney’s twin brother was knocked out by Junto Nakatani last year.

Nakatani has since moved up in weight and holds the WBC bantamweight belt.

“I need to put on a great performance, win this fight, and then I’m ready to unify with any of the other bantamweight champions,” Moloney said.

“I want the big fights, and I have to beat Takei to make them happen.”

Jason Moloney.
Jason Moloney, Australia’s only current male boxing world champion, with his bantamweight belt. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

Takei has won all eight of his professional boxing fights with knockouts, Moloney bringing three Japanese sparring partners to his coastal gym last month in a preparation he claimed was his best yet.

“I’m expecting a hard fight, but I’ve put in the hard work to make sure I’m victorious,” he said.

“His distance is different coming from a kickboxing background, so we prepared very hard for his unique style.

“He’s had eight fights and eight knockouts, and this is a big step up for him. It’s obvious his team has a lot of belief in his ability.”