The vacant WBO junior bantamweight title was on the line in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA and Junto Nakatani (25-0, 19 KOs) won it in brutal fashion. Nakatani knocked down Australian contender Andrew Moloney (25-3, 16 KOs, 1 NC) twice before knocking him out in round 12.
Medical attention was required as Moloney remained down for a few minutes before being able to sit on his stool.
FIREWORKS IN EVERY WAY 💥
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 21, 2023
The title was left vacant after former champion Kazuto Ioka vacated it to pursue a rematch with Joshua Franco. Nakatani, ranked first with the WBO, and Moloney, ranked second, were ordered to fight for the belt. Top Rank scheduled the two to be on the undercard of the Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko undisputed title fight. Expectations were high when the bout was announced and it did not disappoint.
The two fought at close range once the first bell rang. Referee Mark Nelson had to separate the two early on as they clinched. Nakatani made his mark early as he landed multiple uppercuts in round two to drop Moloney. By the end of the round, Moloney was cut.
In round three, a clash of heads drew blood from the forehead of Nakatani. This did little to deter him as he continued to dominate the fight going into round six.
Moloney had some success in rounds six, seven, and eight. Despite this, Nakatani was able to maintain control and once again started to dominate by round nine.
Nakatani once again dropped Moloney in round 11 with a straight left hand. Moloney managed to get up but was warned by the referee to protect himself. At the end of the round, Moloney’s trainer, Angelo Hyder, told him that he would end the fight, but allowed Moloney to continue.
As the twelfth round began, it appeared that Moloney would be able to make it to the end of the fight. However, with less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest, Nakatani landed a looping left hand that left Moloney on the canvas for several minutes. Fortunately, Moloney was able to get up and leave the ring.
The win now makes Nakatani a two-weight world champion, having previously held the WBO flyweight title. The show proceeds with two additional bouts before the undisputed title fight between Haney and Lomachenko.