Artur Beterbiev’s clash with mandatory challenger Callum Smith won’t be the only title fight Videotron Centre hosts on January 13th, as Jason Moloney is set to make his inaugural WBO bantamweight title defense against 10th-ranked Saul Sanchez.
The previously revealed co-feature between Christian Mbilli and Rohan Murdock remains on track.
Moloney (26-2, 19 KO) fell short in his first two bids for gold, falling to Emmanuel Rodriguez by split decision in the 2018 WBSS and to Naoya Inoue by, well, Inoue two years later. He’s since won five straight, most recently taking a solid if unspectacular majority decision over Vincent Astrolabio for the vacant belt in May.
“Saul is coming off an impressive win against an undefeated opponent in Japan, and I’m sure he will be hungry to fight for a world title, but this is my era, the era of ‘Mayhem,’” said Moloney. “I achieved my dream of becoming world champion, but 2024 is the year I prove I’m the best bantamweight in the world. I want a very active year, and I plan to take out all the other champions. My mission is to become the undisputed champion, but first things first, an impressive knockout victory over Saul Sanchez. Canada, get ready for Mayhem!”
California’s Sanchez (20-2, 12 KO) hasn’t scored a marquee win, but he’s put together a decent body of work at 26 years old. He notably smoked Ja’Rico O’Quinn in two minutes atop a 2021 ShoBox card, and though he dropped a split decision to Eros Correa two fights later, he handed unbeaten RV Deniega his first loss less than a month ago.
“I am excited about this opportunity,” Sanchez said. “I am going to come in the best shape I have ever been in to get the victory and become the new world champion. I want to thank my manager Nomaan Ali at GOAT Management for securing and presenting this opportunity. I have won back-to-back fights, and I will be ready for this fight.”
It’s…okay, as far as title defenses go. Moloney had better savor it while he can, as Julius Julianis says WBO super flyweight champ Junto Nakatani is moving up to 118 next time out. WBO rules generally allow a rising champion to cut to the front of the line and we all saw what happened the last time Nakatani fought a Moloney.