Former title challenger Jason “Mayhem” Moloney will get another crack at a world title on Saturday night, when he squares off against Vincent Astrolabio for the vacant WBO bantamweight strap. The bout will be co-headliner to the Janibek-Butler card on ESPN/ESPN+ at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
Since being violently knocked out by then unified bantamweight champion and pound-for-pound talent Naoya Inoue in October 2020, Moloney (25-2, 19 KO) has racked up four consecutive victories, three of which came last year. His last outing was a wide unanimous decision win over Nawaphon Kaikanha on the undercard of Haney-Kambosos II in October 2022, in his native Australia.
Astrolabio (18-3, 13 KO) has embarked on a win streak of his own after his majority decision loss to ZongLi He back in 2018, winning six fights in a row. One of those wins is a decision over former unified super bantamweight champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux. His last appearance was a fifth round knockout of Nikolai Potapov back in December.
Thankfully for Moloney, Astrolabio and other top fighters in the 118-pound weight class, Inoue decided to relinquish his four titles earlier this year, which of course opens the division wide up. Incidentally, Inoue’s younger brother Takuma is the only boxer to hold a world title in the weight class, so maybe a unification between Moloney and the younger Inoue could be an interesting sell down the line—assuming Moloney gets the win on Saturday.
Fighter’s Form (last 5 fights):
Nawaphon Kaikanha - WIN by UD (119-109, 118-110, 118-110) - 16/10/2022
Aston Palicte - WIN by TKO 3 - 05/06/2022
Francisco Pedroza Portillo - WIN by UD (100-90, 99-91, 99-91) - 09/04/2022
Joshua Greer Jr - WIN by UD (98-92, 98-92, 96-94) - 14/08/2021
Naoya Inoue - LOSS by KO 7 - 31/10/2020
Nikolai Potapov - WIN by KO 6 - 17/12/2022
Guillermo Rigondeaux - WIN by UD (95-94, 95-94, 95-94) - 26/02/2022
Jerry Pabila - WIN by TKO 1 - 27/02/2021
Wilbert Berondo - WIN by KO 8 - 15/12/2019
Kevin Aseniero - WIN by TKO 5 - 24/08/2019
Date: May 13th, 2023
Time: 3am (GMT), 7pm (PT), 10pm (ET)
Venue: Stockton Arena, Stockton, California, USA
Elsewhere on the card
Headlining the event will be WBO middleweight titleholder Janibek Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8 KO) defending his belt against Steven Butler (32-3-1, 26 KO). Also on the card is Stockton’s own Gabriel Flores Jr. (21-2, 7 KO), who will be taking on Derrick Murray (17-8-1, 6 KO) in an eight round bout.