Undefeated Naoya Inoue to Defend Bantamweight Belts Against Jason Moloney

WBA and IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue will defend the titles against contender Jason Moloney this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Updated: Oct. 29, 2020 • 5:30 PM ET


Las Vegas will host this weekend's bantamweight title fight.

Undefeated WBA and IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue will defend the belts against worthy contender Jason Moloney this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Inoue is coming off a unanimous decision win over Nonito Donaire last November in his home country of Japan. With the victory, he retained the IBF title and won the WBA belt, extending his unbeaten streak to 19-0. Although it was a hard fought battle, during which he suffered a broken orbital bone, Inoue believes the fight helped him gain valuable experience leading into his upcoming title defense against Moloney.

“The Donaire fight was surely the toughest fight of my career thus far,” Inoue recently old The Ring. “But it was also a fight where I gained a lot of experience and that will make me a better fighter. The injury I suffered has fully recovered.

“I’ve been sparring after the New Year’s holidays, and it hasn’t affected my training.”

The 27-year-old Inoue has been a three-weight world champion, having also held the WBC light flyweight title in 2014 and WBO junior bantamweight title from 2014 to 2018. The Japanese fighter has been impressive en route to accumulating 16 knockouts, which has some drawing comparisons to other top boxers.

“I think he has that swagger, even though there is a language difference that you can feel,” Top Rank president Todd duBoef recently told Yahoo Sports. “He has that swagger and a presence about him that is very unique. When you couple that with the power he has and being such a devastating puncher, he is a perfect telegenic fighter.

“The commonality between Manny (Pacquiao) and him is the power. Ricardo Lopez was probably the most beautiful boxer you’d ever want to watch, but this kid has that devastating kind of power like Manny did.”

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This will only be Inoue’s second fight in the United States and first under the bright lights of Las Vegas, but he’s excited about the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage.

“For me to fight in Las Vegas, that will bring me closer to that superstar status,” Inoue said. “That’s why I am here.”

Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) is coming off a seventh-round stoppage of Leonardo Baez. During the fight, Baez suffered cuts over both eyes, and Moloney’s onslaught eventually pushed Baez’s corner to stop the fight. The Australian’s only professional loss came via a close split-decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF bantamweight title in 2018, and the result still motivates him today.

“I was so close to becoming a world champion,” Moloney recently said via Boxing Scene. “It was heartbreaking. The amount I improved in two years — I can’t even explain it.

“I feel like I am 10 times better from that night. I’ve worked my way back up the ranking. Once I got past Baez, I was ready for any of the champions. For me, it was Inoue or (John Riel) Casimero. That was it. If we were coming back to America, quarantining for 14 days in both directions, I didn’t want it to be for just another stay-busy fight. I asked for this fight, my team delivered and now it’s time to bring those belts back with us to Australia.”

• The main card can be seen on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. EST