It was a long flight, but Andrew Moloney made it worth it.
The 28-year-old from Croydon, Australia punched his ticket to a WBA junior bantamweight title opportunity with an eighth round knockout of Miguel Gonzalez Friday night at Gran Arena Monticello in San Francisco de Mostazal, Chile.
Moloney (19-0, 12 knockouts) landed a left hook, then landed an even better one as Gonzalez (29-2, 6 KOs) threw his own left, sending Gonzalez flat on his back. Gonzalez got up, but was stumbling all over the ring in no shape to continue, forcing referee Romina Arroyo to stop the fight.
Still, it wasn’t the performance Moloney would have wanted prior to the stoppage. And after a sixth round blown call, where the referee gave Gonzalez credit for a knockdown despite not throwing a punch, Moloney was worried about what the scorecards could have read.
At the time of stoppage, the scores were 68-64 and 67-65 for the hometown fighter Gonzalez, and 66-66 even on the third.
“To be honest I felt a bit off tonight. I don’t know what it was, we’d been here in Chile long enough,” said Moloney. The left hook shot that scored the deciding knockdown was one that Moloney had practiced plenty with trainer Angelo Hyder, he said.
.@AndrewMoloney (19-0, 12KOs) scores a sizzling left hook knockout of Miguel Gonzalez in Chile to earn a crack at the WBA junior bantamweight title, which is currently held by Kal Yafai #boxing pic.twitter.com/aBHmYf5Pnq
— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) March 23, 2019
“I’m just so over the moon because I was scared that everything I’d worked so hard for for the last 15 years was slipping away from me,” said Moloney, who had won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland as an amateur.
Though Moloney and team had missed their flight out of Melbourne, they arrived in Chile a little over two weeks before the fight following a 14-hour plane ride, and had local sparring available to stay sharp.
Hyder echoed Moloney’s sentiments about his performance prior to the finish, but was quick to give credit to Gonzalez, who had won twelve straight since losing a decision to Paul Butler in the United Kingdom.
“Gonzalez has a huge heart he came to win. He put everything on the line. He was sharp and awkward to hit clean. Once Andrew followed instructions to turn it into a war and stand and deliver, his body punches did the damage that opened up the hook,” said Hyder.
(READ: Jason and Andrew Moloney: Seeking success simultaneously)
Manager Tony Tolj tells The Ring that Moloney is entitled to a shot within nine months at the title belt that Kal Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs) will defend against Norbelto Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KOs) on June 1 at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua vs. Jarrell Miller heavyweight championship fight.
Moloney says that, despite Yafai’s shaky outing against Israel Gonzalez last November, he expects the British fighter to retain the belt against his Dominican foe, who has been unbeaten over the last eight years against mostly limited opposition.
“Going off Yafai’s last few performances you’d say that there is a chance that Jimenez can win that fight. I think he does still give Yafai a little bit of trouble because I expect him to move quite a bit on his feet in that fight, and I think Yafai sorta struggles a bit with that style, but I just think that Jimenez’s opponents in the last few years haven’t really prepared him for this fight,” said Moloney, who hopes to make the trip to New York to watch the fight from ringside.
The Moloneys will look to make it a two-for-two sweep in successive weeks when Andrew’s twin Jason, who dropped a close split decision to IBF bantamweight titleholder Emmanuel Rodriguez last October in their World Boxing Super Series match, tries to bounce back against Filipino Cris Paulino (19-3, 8 KOs) on March 30 at Tweed Heads, Australia.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].
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