It's been almost six months since Jason Moloney was one scorecard away from becoming the IBF bantamweight world champion and advancing to the World Boxing Super Series.
Instead of facing Naoya Inoue in Scotland this May, the once-beaten Australian contender returns to his home country where he will face another rising contender in Cris Paulino on March 30. The loss to Emmanuel Rodriguez last year sent Moloney to the back of the line and is now looking to win back another opportunity at a 118-pound title.
Moloney, still heartbroken over the loss, said he remains hopeful that he will be able to accomplish his world title dreams someday.
"Obviously it was devastating to lose against Rodriguez. Becoming world champion was something my team and I had worked so hard towards over many years and to come so close but fall short was heartbreaking. It still hurts now but I’m determined to achieve my dreams and I’m working hard everyday to become the best fighter I can be," Moloney told Fightful in an exclusive interview.
The fight against Rodriguez was the first time many had seen Moloney in action and even in defeat, pundits within the sport believe that Moloney is world champion material. But if you ask Moloney about his own performance, he'll say that he can do better, believing that he would beat the Puerto Rican champion in a rematch.
"I think it showed that I belong on the big stage and I’m someone who is constantly striving for improvement. Even since that loss I already feel like I’m a much better fighter. I’m determined to earn myself another World Title shot and I’m confident that this time I will not let that opportunity slip. I’m my own harshest critic so for me there is always areas for improvement. Watching that fight back there is times that I made a few mistakes and at the highest level you don’t get away with them but I learnt a lot from that fight and I’ve made some big improvements since. Even if I fought Rodriguez tomorrow I’m confident that there would be a different result," Moloney said.
Although Moloney isn't fighting for a world title in his next fight, he can take the next best thing, which is a fight in Australia for the first time in 10 months. After fighting in the United States in his last time out, it will be good for Moloney to fight in front of his friends and family at ringside once more, according to him.
"It’s great to be back fighting here in Australia, I love having all of my friends and family ringside supporting me when I step in the ring and do what I love but honestly I’m just happy to be back fighting. I’m happy to fight anywhere in the world, I’ve been working hard in the gym and I’m ready to work my way back to the big fights and to get my chance to fight for another world title as soon as possible," Moloney said.
Once Moloney is done with his fight against Paulino, assuming he wins, the 28-year-old looks to get a title opportunity, but isn't picky over his options. With most of the titles locked up in the World Boxing Super Series, Moloney would mainly have to go the WBC route or the interim WBA title if he wants to have a shot at a world title before the tournament ends.
But regardless of what his future has in store, Moloney said he will do everything in his power to get another title shot and achieve his dream of becoming a world champion.
"I’m not underestimating Cris Paulino. I don’t take any opponent lightly and this is a big opportunity for Paulino to come over here and try and take my WBA world #3 ranking. It has been over 3 years since his last loss and I’m expecting a very tough fight. My plan is to do whatever it takes to become world champion as soon as possible. I’d love to fight the winner of the WBSS, the WBC champion (Nordine Oubaali) or the WBA interim champion (Reymart Gaballo). Im determined to become world champion and I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to make that happen," Moloney said.
The fight between Moloney and Paulino, for the WBA Oceania bantamweight title, will take place at the Seagulls Rugby League Club in Tweed Heads on March 30.