Jason Moloney already realised his world title dream, defeating Vincent Astrolabio for the bantamweight belt in California last weekend.
Unfortunately brother Andrew’s world title wait will continue after undefeated Japanese knockout specialist Junto Nakatani (24-0) claimed the vacant WBO World junior bantamweight belt in Las Vegas with a monstrous KO.
Nakatani already had an imposing 18 knockouts to his name before flattening Moloney with a brutal left hand in the 12th round.
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“That was devastating,” Joe Tessitore said in commentary.
“He is laid out in brutal fashion. They need medical attention right away. Unbelievable punch. It was like a human shotgun going off.”
It came after Moloney’s corner had said they were thinking of stopping the fight early just before the final round with the Australian copping far too damage.
Fortunately Moloney was able to get back to his feet soon after the knockout and even if his world title bid ended in defeat, there was little doubting the Australian’s toughness to last that long.
Moloney was taken to hospital to be checked on after the knockout, with it later revealed that he perforated both eardrums during the fight.
Nakatani took control of the fight early in the first round, countering beautifully and working to the body while also landing some clean power punches.
A body shot from Nakatani as Moloney moved forward proved his best moment of the round, with the challenge for the Australian to absorb all the pressure early.
“As Moloney has thrown the right hard, perfectly timed right underneath,” Timothy Bradley said in commentary.
Nakatani continued to dominate in the second round, scoring a knockdown of Moloney after a series of uppercuts — starting off with two lefts and then finishing it off with a right.
It left the Australian in “survival mode” according to Andre Ward in commentary, with Moloney banking on his mental toughness at that point to get through the fight.
Nakatani’s face did open up in the third but only after an accidental clash of heads but the Japanese rising star still looked sharp as ever, with his uppercuts in particular impressing.
Moloney was trying to grind Nakatani down but Ward warned against persisting with that strategy too long or risk taking too much damage in the process.
“Moloney has got to free both hands and rip, he can’t worry about what he’s going to get hit by because he’s going to get hit anyway,” Ward said.
Moloney’s camp, meanwhile, urged the Australian “start faster and be first” to work towards the body but that was proving a serious challenge given Nakatani’s speed and movement inside the ring.
“I’m not sure Nakatani has gotten out of second gear,” Ward said.
“He’s in cruise control. He’s not had to dig deep into a bag in terms of skill, different kinds of punches.”
It was a far more competitive round in the fourth though and to his credit, Moloney was able to keep going and apply some pressure of his own despite the big shots Nakatani was landing.
Nakatani had landed 46 power punches to Moloney’s 19 by that point but the Australian had his best round of the fight in the sixth as his opponen started to tire somewhat.
Moloney continued to build on that success in the seventh, taking it to Nakatani who responded with two brutal uppercuts.
But no matter what Nakatani came back with, Moloney kept bringing it to his undefeated rival and earned plenty of praise from the commentary team as a result.
“If yuou’re Nakatani you’re saying, ‘Oh my God, what is keeping this guy up?’… this man continues to come back,” Bradley said.
“Andrew Moloney is so determined,” added Tessitore.
The problem for Moloney though was that as valiant as the Australian had been, he had fallen behind on the scoreboards and was in need of a stoppage to claim victory.
It prompted Moloney’s corner to urge him to punch from the inside more with short shots that were better suited to the Australian’s range as the fight entered the final few rounds.
But if there was any doubt, Nakatani re-established his control with a strong straight left hand that sent Moloney flying to the canvas.
The Australian got back up and kept fighting — as he had the entire night — but in the end it would not be enough as Nakatani maintained his undefeated record with a brutal KO win.