Moloney Brothers return on Haney-Kambosos 2 undercard

Many of Australia’s top fighting talents will enjoy the Down Under spotlight underneath the highly anticipated rematch between undisputed lightweight world champion Devin “The Dream” Haney and former champion “Ferocious” George Kambosos Jr. on Saturday, Oct. 15 (Sunday afternoon, Oct. 16 local time) at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.

In the co-feature, two-time world title challenger Jason “Mayhem” Moloney takes on Thai veteran Nawaphon Kaikanha in a 12-round final eliminator for the WBC bantamweight world title.

Former world champion Andrew Moloney, Jason’s twin brother, battles Dominican contender Norbelto Jimenez in a 10-rounder for the vacant WBO International junior bantamweight title. The Moloney Brothers grew up in Mitcham, a suburb of Melbourne, and will have the home soil advantage.

Haney-Kambosos 2 will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. Undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+.

Jason Moloney (24-2, 19 KOs) fell short in his two shots at the bantamweight title, dropping a split decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez in 2018 and succumbing via seventh-round stoppage to Naoya Inoue in 2020. Since the Inoue setback, he has won three in a row, including a stunning third-round knockout over Aston Palicte on the Kambosos-Haney 1 undercard in June. Kaikanha (56-1-1, 46 KOs) has won 20 consecutive fights since a 2017 TKO loss to Juan Hernandez Navarrete for the vacant WBC flyweight world title. He has been campaigning at bantamweight for more than three years, winning 12 straight by stoppage. Kaikanha has never fought outside of Thailand and will make the nine-hour flight to fight Moloney in hostile territory.

“This fight is one final steps towards me achieving my dream and becoming world champion,” Jason Moloney said. “Nawaphon Kaikanha is a very experienced and capable opponent who has had 58 professional fights and only one defeat. To have this fight in Melbourne, at Rod Laver Arena, in front of all my family and friends, is amazing and gives me even more motivation. Thank you to my manager, Tony Tolj, Top Rank, and everyone involved for making this fight happen. I will grab this opportunity with both hands and earn my shot at becoming the WBC world champion.”

Andrew Moloney (24-2, 16 KOs) held the WBA 115-pound world title briefly until Joshua Franco dethroned him in June 2020, but three fights against the American standout introduced him to an international audience. Moloney has kept active since a decision defeat to Franco last August, going 3-0 and rising the junior bantamweight rankings. Like his brother, Andrew Moloney made the most of his homecoming on the Kambosos-Haney 1 bill. He busted the right eye of Alexander Espinoza, who retired on his stool following the second round. Jimenez (31-9-6, 16 KOs) is a two-time world title challenger who is unbeaten in four fights, a run that includes a spirited draw last December against four-weight world champion Donnie Nietes. He has authored a remarkable career turnaround, as he began his career 2-8-1. Since that low-water mark, Jimenez is 29-1-5 over the past 11-plus years.

“I’m hoping that an impressive win over Jimenez earns me a shot at one of the world champions next,” Andrew Moloney said. “This is exactly the type of fight I’ve been wanting, to show the improvements I have made and that I am ready to become world champion again. I’m coming to put on the best performance of my career.”

The undercard also features two of New Zealand’s world class boxing prospects, Olympic bronze medalist David Nyika (4-0, 3 KOs) and heavyweight puncher Hemi Ahio (19-0, 14 KOs), who are both returning to Melbourne after appearing on Kambosos-Haney 1 undercard. Nyika, who is campaigning at cruiserweight, is scheduled to fight in a six-rounder. Ahio looks for his sixth consecutive knockout in an eight-rounder.

Devin Haney Promotions-promoted prospect Amari Jones (7-0, 7 KOs) is set to go for knockout number eight in a six-round junior middleweight bout.

Franco on victory over Moloney: ‘I wasn’t nervous when the decision was being read’

We got another night of Top Rank Boxing and another upset. Joshua Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) defeated Andrew Moloney via unanimous decision to win the WBA super-flyweight world title Tuesday evening by scores of 115-112 and 114-113 2x.

Franco dominated down the stretch, knocked Moloney down in the 11th round and swept the 12th on all three judges’ cards to secure the victory.

“After the fourth round, I gained the momentum and figured him out. I always knew this was possible,” Franco said. “I wasn’t nervous when the decision was being read. I knew I’d done enough to win this fight. My coach, Robert Garcia, had me ready. I’m going home with the belt.”

Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs), from Melbourne Australia, was making his American debut.

“It just wasn’t my night tonight,” Moloney said. “This was not the best version of Andrew Moloney, but full credit to Joshua Franco. He deserved to win the title with his effort. He closed the fight strong, like a true champion.

“I’ll be back. One loss won’t define me.”

Diaz Decisions Sanchez

Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (26-2, 16 KOs) is back in the world title picture. Diaz, from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, bested Jason Sanchez (15-2, 8 KOs) via 10-round unanimous decision (98-92 2x, 97-93) in a crossroads featherweight fight.

Diaz has now won two in a row since an April 2019 decision loss to Shakur Stevenson. He has his sights set on a world title opportunity at either featherweight or junior featherweight.

“I can fight at featherweight, or I can make 122 pounds. Whatever Top Rank wants, but I’m ready for a big fight in either weight division. I am a completely different and improved fighter from the one who fought Shakur Stevenson last year,” Diaz said. “I worked on my power in the gym. My coaches, Nelson Rodriguez and Freddie Roach, got me ready for tonight.”

— In a six-round battle of unbeaten junior welterweight prospects, Miguel Contreras (11-0, 6 KOs), from Bakersfield, California, bested Rolando Vargas (5-1, 5 KOs) by unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 58-56.

— In a six-round heavyweight bout, Helaman Olguin (8-3, 3 KOs) upset the previously undefeated Adam Stewart (8-1-1, 5 KOs) via majority decision by scores of 57-57 and 58-56 2x.