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Andrew Moloney not thrown off by switch of opposition to Pedro Guevara

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Moloney takes it to Gilberto Mendoza. Photo by Top Rank

Junior bantamweight contender Andrew Moloney (26-3, 16KOs) has never been one to shirk a challenge and that’s not about to change any time soon.

The 33-year-old Australian will get the chance to inject himself back into world title contention when he takes on battle-tested 34-year-old Mexican Pedro Guevara (41-4-1, 22KOs) for the WBC 115-pound interim title at RAC Arena in Perth, Western Australia on May 12.

The bout will take place on the undercard of the clash between George Kambosos Jr and Vasiliy Lomachenko for the vacant IBF lightweight title.

Moloney was originally slated to face The Ring’s number five ranked contender Carlos Cuadras (42-5-1, 28KOs) before the Mexican veteran withdrew with an Achilles injury.

Guevara is a quality replacement. The Ring’s number nine contender is a former WBC junior flyweight titleholder whose four losses have all been in close, competitive fights to world class operators.

The replacement fight came together very quickly. It took Moloney’s promoter Top Rank just hours to get Guevara to sign on for the bout after Cuadras’ withdrawal.

“They managed to get this fight over the line and for the same title against a quality opponent,” Moloney told The Ring. “I’m rapt they were able to organize it so quickly and we were able to go ahead with a fight, so not much really changed from my end. Just a slightly different technique from my opponent, but they’ve got almost identical records and are both big name Mexicans in the lighter weight divisions and former world champions, so not much really changes from my end.

“It’s taken a little bit of time to officially announce Guevara as the replacement but we’ve known about it for over a week now. That’s eight weeks out from the fight so it’s not really a short timeframe.

“There wasn’t that much to change training-wise. Guevara is a slightly different style of fighter. Cuadras is more of a pressure fighter with a higher volume than Guevara has. Guevara is more of a boxer and a little bit neater. But it’s not a massive change stylistically, so it hasn’t disrupted the training camp at all, really.”

Moloney was already familiar with Guevara long before their fight was announced. Just last year he was in talks to box the veteran in a WBC eliminator but opted for another fight instead.

“We had already done some research and watched some footage of him and started preparing for him before we got the call to fight [Junto] Nakatani and we took that option instead,” said Moloney, who is ranked number four at super flyweight by The Ring. “So I was very aware of who Guevara was and I was very familiar with his style. It was quite easy to change mind frames and tactics a little bit and get together a game plan for him.

“Obviously since the announcement I’ve watched much more footage of him and slightly changed the game plan a little bit, but everything is well on track. Our preparation is going really well and I’m really happy with the way I’m boxing at the moment, so I’m looking forward to fight night already.”

Always a student of the game, Moloney offered this scouting report on his opponent.

“He’s got a very good technique,” he said. “He’s fundamentally sound and he doesn’t leave a whole lot of openings. He’s very experienced and in the fights that he’s lost, they’ve all been at the top level against world champions. And he has only ever been beat by a split decision or a majority decision, so no one has convincingly beat him yet.

“That’s my goal. I want to be the first person to really convincingly beat him, to make a statement in this fight and show that I’m one of the best boxers in this division and that I deserve to be fighting for world titles.”

He added: “Guevara is extremely experienced, but what I’ve found from watching him is that he looks a bit too relaxed. I’ve found in some of his fights he almost looks like he is sparring. He lacks that real hunger that I’ve still got. I think that’s going to be the difference of fight night.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Moloney’s career was on the rocks and he was wondering how he was going to right the ship. A savage final round knockout to uber-talented Junto Nakatani in his bid for the vacant WBO title in Las Vegas last May left him battered and bruised with a lot of rebuilding to do.

He bounced back with a solid 10-round unanimous decision win over Judy Flores back home in Melbourne in December that helped get the monkey off his back.

Moloney still aspires to hold a world title at the same time as his twin brother Jason, who is the current WBO bantamweight boss. That dream would’ve died a long time ago if it wasn’t for the ongoing support of their promoter Top Rank.

“Top Rank have been amazing to me and Jason,” Moloney said. “Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with the way they have treated us over the years. Once again they’ve given me a huge opportunity to fight in front of a home crowd on the undercard of a massive event in Australia with a lot of eyeballs watching all over the world.

“I’m working very hard at the moment to make sure I make the most of it and deliver a great performance and come home with that belt wrapped around my waist.”

Moloney doesn’t like to dwell on the Nakatani fight, which earned him Knockout of the Year honors for all the wrong reasons. But he does offer some insight into how the loss changed him as a boxer – for the better.

“If there’s one thing I learnt from that, it’s that I’ve got to use my brain more in there. In that fight I rushed in and was far too eager. I didn’t think my way through the fight and that’s something I’ve really taken from that,” Moloney said.

“I’ve been working in the gym on using my brain a lot more and using that experience and thinking my way through the fights. I feel like it’s all really starting to come together at the moment.

“I feel like I’m boxing better than ever and still improving so as I said, I really feel that the best is yet to come in my career.”

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