Nonito Donaire AFP FILE PHOTO

Moloney ‘dodges’ Donaire

NONITO Donaire Jr. may be known as the “Filipino Flash,” but when it comes to finding the nearest exit door, Jason Moloney is way quicker.

Officially, the proposed Donaire-Moloney fight for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight title has been called off because the promoters of the two boxers do not get along.

Then again, when you consider how things could shape up following the announcement that the fight is a no-go, Moloney figures to benefit the most.

For one, Moloney sidestepped a dangerous bullet in Donaire.

While Donaire’s last fight resulted in a knockout loss to Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue, the four-weight division champ remained dangerous and was expected to test Moloney to the hilt.

The WBC ranks Moloney (25-2, 19 knockouts) and Donaire (42-7, 28 knockouts) at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, making them the top contenders for the title vacated by Inoue.

The WBC gave Donaire and Moloney until February 17 to come up with a deal, but Moloney’s camp recently informed the WBC that they are no longer pursuing the fight.

Moloney is represented by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions while Donaire is promoted by Probellum which is spearheaded by company co-founder Richard Schaefer.

Top Rank and Probellum had co-promoted several big fights but sometime in April 2022, Arum claimed he was finished doing business with Probellum because of its alleged links to Irish mob boss Daniel Kinahan.

Kinahan has vast connections in boxing. He co-founded MTK Global in 2012 before leaving in 2017. As he is banned in the United States, majority of Kinahan’s boxing promotions are held in his native Ireland and in Dubai.

Schaefer has denied Arum’s allegations, but just the same Top Rank has ceased to do business with Probellum. The proposed Donaire-Moloney fight for the WBC title is a casualty of this rift.

Donaire is now looking for a new opponent. Ranked No. 3 by the WBC is Thailand’s Nawaphon Kaikanha (57-2, with 41 knockouts) who lost a decision to Moloney last October.

Nawaphon, 31, has been feasting on nobodies in his native Thailand and will be a decisive underdog opposite Donaire.

Donaire is ranked outside the Top 4 in the WBA, IBF and WBO, which means it is only in the WBC where he is assured of getting a title shot.

Donaire, 40, is looking at becoming the oldest fighter to become bantamweight (118 pounds) champion.

Unlike Donaire, Moloney has another route he can take to become bantamweight champ.

Australian Moloney is also ranked No. 1 by the WBO. The WBO ranks at No. 2 Filipino Vincent Astrolabio and at No. 3 Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez. At No. 4 is another Filipino, Reymart Gaballo.

The IBF recently ordered Astrolabio and Rodriguez to fight for its vacant title. The two boxers have until February 25 to forge a deal among themselves. If an agreement is sealed, Astrolabio and Rodriguez will forfeit their No. 2 and No. 3 rankings in the WBO to contend for the IBF jewel.

Should this happen, Gaballo, ranked No. 4, will find himself in a position to face Moloney either for the interim or regular WBO bantamweight title.

Gaballo (25-1, with 21 knockouts) was flattened in four rounds by Donaire in December 2021. He has fought only once since then, stopping countryman Ricardo Sueno last October.

Obviously, between Donaire and Gaballo, the latter is the safer pick for Moloney.

Gaballo’s confidence is an enigma because of the brutal knockout loss to Donaire and Moloney also looks to capitalize on the former’s inactivity.

Since losing to Inoue in October 2020, Moloney has racked up four straight victories.

If Moloney is not also ranked No. 1 in the WBO, it is hard to imagine him giving up his WBC No.1 ranking. The fact remains that Moloney also has the WBO title as a backup plan and the competition in the WBO is more “manageable.”

It will be interesting to see how things will shape up. With the decision of Inoue to move up to the junior featherweight (122 pounds) division, all four bantamweight thrones (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO) have been declared vacant.

The WBC is shopping for an opponent for Donaire while the IBF is settling for Astrolabio-Rodriguez. The WBO has not made any announcement as of this writing, but Moloney figures to be a part of its plan as he is ranked No. 1. The WBA, which does not even rank anyone at No. 1, remains mum on the subject.

Donaire, Astrolabio are shoo-ins for fights for the WBC and IBF titles.

Gaballo is on the outside looking in, so to speak, but he better get in shape as a shot at the WBO crown looms.

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