SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 25, 2020 – Jason Moloney ensured the trip to America for the Moloney Brothers didn’t send them both back home to Australia empty-handed. Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) battled a tough but outclassed Leonardo Baez of Mexicali (18-3, 9 KOs), eventually dealing enough damage to force a stoppage after seven rounds.
As his brother Andrew watched ringside after losing his title earlier in the week, Moloney kept up his offensive output, landing at a higher connect rate than Baez, who took the fight on short notice after Moloney’s original opponent Oscar Negrete withdrew due to injury. “I feel a bit guilty, I probably put a bit of pressure on him tonight,” said Andrew Moloney.
If it helped Moloney to keep up a furious pace to ensure both brothers wouldn’t go home with losses, it worked. Moloney dealt the punishment to Baez with nonstop work. Baez didn’t back down, but it became a war of attrition. After seven rounds, Baez’s trainer could see his fighter didn’t have enough left to overcome the scorecards and saw no reason to let his man take any more damage. It was a responsible and smart stoppage call.
Gambling and winning in Sin City
Moloney and his brother came to Las Vegas six weeks ago without a fight in sight during the coronavirus pandemic showdown, hoping an opportunity would come along, and they would be ready to grab it. Fortune favors the bold.
“I just wanted it so bad, I’m so driven and so dedicated,” said Moloney. “This is the biggest opportunity of my career. I’m so happy, it made all the sacrifices and hard work worthwhile. It’s a big step toward me fighting for another world title.”
Moloney says he’s given notice to the top names in the 118-pound bantamweight division. “I think I sent a big message. I knew Leonardo Baez would be a really, really tough challenge. He’s an absolute warrior, he pushed me hard … Nothing was going to stop me tonight.”
Abraham Nova wins by decision over Avery Sparrow
Abraham Nova of Albany, New York (Puerto Rico) (19-0, 14 KOs) remained undefeated, putting together a unanimous decision over Avery Sparrow (10-2, 3 KOs) of Philadelphia. Scores were 99-91, 97-93 and 96-94. Nova says he trained steadily during the three months of lockdown; Sparrow took the bout on three weeks’ notice. Sparrow employed his boxing skills in the early rounds, counting on Sparrow working hard enough to wear himself down become vulnerable in the later rounds.
Sparrow came at Nova with power punches and won rounds in the first half of the fight. When Nova stepped on the gas, his higher work rate and connect percentage brought him the victory from the judges. Nova was a clear winner, but Sparrow deserved more credit than the wider scores.
Undercard results: Gonzalez, Panin, Yanong, and Ibeh win bouts
Featherweight Orlando Gonzalez-Ruiz of Puerto Rico (15-0, 10 KOs) made his two knockdowns count in an eight-round decision over Luis Porozo of Ecuador (15-3, 8 KOs). Scores were 77-73 X 2 and 76-74. Gonzalez scored knockdowns in the second and seventh rounds with crisp, short hooks, first from the left, and the second by a right check followed by a body shot.
Super welterweight Vlad Panin, a Los Angeles based fighter born in Belarus (8-1, 4 KOs), takes a six-round majority decision over Benjamin Whitaker (13-4, 3 KOs) of San Antonio, Texas. Scores were 58-56 X 2 for Panin and 57-57. Panin, a UCLA graduate, gets work in the busy Los Angeles boxing scene as a sparring partner out of Churchills Boxing Gym in Santa Monica for fighters including Ivan Redkach.
Reymond Yanong of the Philippines (11-5-1, 9 KOs) won by split decision over Clay “Third Degree” Burns of Fort Worth, Texas (9-8-2, 4 KOs) in a six-round welterweight bout. Scores were 59-55 and 58-56 for Yanong, 58-56 for Burns. Yanong was the clear winner, the far busier and more accurate puncher. Shout out to Burns though for a wicked good ring nickname.
In the opener, heavyweight Kingsley Ibeh of Phoenix via Nigeria (4-1, 4 KOs) corrected the single loss on his record with a rematch victory over Waldo Cortes of Arizona (5-3, 2 KOs). All of Ibeh’s wins have come by knockout. He dropped Cortes and scored number four at 1:41 of the fourth round.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.