12:16 AM ET
Two days after Andrew Moloney failed to retain his junior bantamweight title, his twin brother, Jason Moloney, stepped into the same ring and got the job done. Maloney put forth a strong, committed effort as he stopped Leonardo Baez in seven rounds at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
From the very beginning of the scheduled 10-round bantamweight bout, Moloney decided to stay inside with the taller Baez, and simply worked him over.
Moloney (21-1, 18 KOs) proceeded to chip away at Baez (18-3, 9 KOs) with body shots, and then quick, compact rights. Baez suffered cuts over both eyes, and as the onslaught of Moloney kept ramping up, Baez’s corner called off the fight after the seventh round.
“I just wanted this so bad, I’m so driven, and so dedicated. I just want this so much,” Moloney said. “This is the biggest opportunity of my career and I’m so happy now. This is the best moment of my career. This makes all the sacrifices and hard work worthwhile.”
Fighting with the pressure of upholding his family’s honor, after his brother suffered his first professional defeat against Joshua Franco on Tuesday night, Moloney fought with great vigor as he went right after the tough Baez.
Being shorter was an advantage for Moloney as he was able to blunt the forward movement of Baez, and his shorter punches found their mark over and over. Whether it was left hooks downstairs, or uppercuts down the middle, Baez was hit time and again with sharp combinations.
It seemed as though Moloney was destined to score a late stoppage before Baez’s corner made the decision to end on the fight.
Moloney, whose only loss was to Emanuel Rodriguez in 2018 for the IBF bantamweight title, says he believes he’s destined for another shot at a belt in this division.
“I think I sent a big message, I knew Leonardo Baez was going to be a really, really tough challenge,” Moloney said. “He’s an absolute warrior, as you saw. He pushed me hard, I showed how bad I want this, and [I’m] ready for any of the champions at 118.”