Bantamweight contender Jason Moloney restored some family pride after grinding down Leonardo Baez for a seventh-round retirement win at ‘The Bubble’ in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Thursday night.
Two days previously, Australian Moloney watched on in agony as his identical twin Andrew lost his WBA super-flyweight crown to Joshua Franco in an upset.
Yet Jason ensured the Moloney family left Las Vegas with their heads held high with an accomplished performance. At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had Moloney ahead – 69-64 (twice) and 68-65.
Baez (18-3, 9 KOs), from Mexicali, Mexico, had won six on the spin and competed well, but suffered a cut right eye in the third and another laceration over his left in the seventh. He was pulled out by his corner following the seventh after suffering breathing problems.
“That was the greatest moment of my career. It was tough watching my brother the other night, but I knew I had a job to do,” said Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs). “Thank you to my team. I sacrificed so much for six weeks, leaving my fiancée and my baby. I’m just over the moon.
“My brother told me he loved me and that he was proud of me. He’ll be back better than ever. Trust me.”
On the undercard, Abraham Nova (19-0, 14 KOs) decisioned Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow (10-2, 3 KOs) in a largely tactical affair at 130lbs. Scores were 99-91, 97-93 and 96-94.
“Sparrow was slippery in there and tough to hit. I had to be patient and search for my openings. In the last few rounds, I began to time him, and that won me the fight,” said Nova. “Listen, this was a learning experience. I’ll be ready for the top guys in the 130-pound division very, very soon.”
Rising featherweight prospect Orlando Gonzalez (15-0, 10 KOs) scored two knockdowns, but was otherwise given a tough test by Luis Porozo (15-3, 8 KOs). Knockdowns in the second and seventh round proved crucial as Gonzalez triumphed on the cards 77-73 (twice) and 76-74.
At welterweight, Vlad Panin (8-1, 4 KOs) won a majority decision over Benjamin Whitaker (13-4, 3 KOs) by scores of 58-56 (twice) and 57-57 while 140-pounder Reymond Yanong (11-5-1, 9 KOs) outpointed Clay ‘3rd Degree’ Burns (9-8-2 4 KOs) via split decision. Scores were 59-55, 58-56 for Yanong overruling an off-base, 58-56 nod for Burns.
Meanwhile, heavyweight Kingsley Ibeh (4-1, 4 KOs) knocked out Waldo Cortes (5-3, 2 KOs) in the fourth round, avenging a split decision loss in 2019.