Moloney: Talks underway for Tanaka fight on Lomachenko-Kambosos undercard

Boxing Scene

Australian super flyweight Andrew Moloney is positioned at number three in the rankings for the vacant WBO super flyweight title that Kosei Tanaka and Christian Bacasegua Rangel fight for on Saturday in Tokyo. 

Moloney will be following closely, aware that he is in line to fight the winner on the undercard of the fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos Jr for the IBF lightweight title on May 12 at the RAC Arena in Perth.

“I believe Tanaka will definitely win the fight,” Moloney said of the date at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. “I’m sitting at number three – once those two fight, I’ll then move into the number-one spot. It’s likely I’ll fight Tanaka unless there is some freak accident. 

“I watched some footage of Rangel because we were locked in to fight him last December. At the time he was rated number three – after I watched the footage I couldn’t believe he was ranked so highly. He hasn’t fought anyone really at the top sort of level and just doesn’t seem to be a world-class fighter. He’s somehow fallen into fighting for a vacant world title, but he’s nowhere near that level. I think that Tanaka will get through to him quickly.”

Moloney (26-3, 16 KOs) fought Tanaka’s countryman Junto Nakatani for the same vacant title last May, losing via a 12th-round knockout. He bounced back to beat Judy Flores in his homeland last December; Nakatani moves up to bantamweight to challenge Alexandro Santiago for the WBC title.

“We do have to wait until what happens on Saturday night,” Moloney said of his return. “I do know that Top Rank have talked to Honda about the possibility of Tanaka fighting me in 11 weeks time on May 12 on the Kambosos-Vasiliy Lomachenko card in Perth in Australia. 

“If they can pull that off, if Top Rank can make that happen, I’ll be the happiest man in the world. Let’s hope they can get that done. Conversations have started, but we obviously have to wait until Saturday night is out of the way.”

Tanaka (19-1, 11 KOs) became the minimumweight world champion in just his fifth fight. The 28 year old in 2016 secured the WBO light flyweight title with a fifth-round stoppage of Moises Fuentes, and made six defences of his title until Kazuto Ioka stopped him in the eighth round on New Year’s Eve in 2022.

“I’m confident Tanaka will win quite easily,” Moloney added. “There should be no problem to turn it around in 11 weeks – it’s just whether or not he is happy to come out to Australia. There would be positives for him there too – he’s obviously a big name in Japan, but he hasn’t been seen that much in terms of a worldwide audience. A lot of people will be watching Lomachenko-Kambosos all over the world.

“I hope we can get it over the line and get him out here. I’m just itching for Saturday to be out of the way so we can start these negotiations. I hope we can make it happen, but if we can’t I just want to be next in line for Tanaka. Hopefully that mandatory will be due soon – it has been over two years since a mandatory has been fought.”

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