Add Nonito Donaire and Vincent Astrolabio to the growing list of Filipino fighters who are in line to fight for world titles in the first few months of 2023.
Donaire, assuming he decides to resume fighting, will tangle with Jason Moloney of Australia for the soon-to-be-vacated World Boxing Council bantamweight crown.
Astrolabio, fresh from shocking Brooklyn-based Russian Nikolai Potapov in Las Vegas, will collide with Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico for the International Boxing Federation that will be left vacant with the expected exodus of Naoya Inoue to super-bantamweight.
Inoue holds both the WBC and IBF straps but is going after a fourth crown in as many weight class by going on invasion of the 122-lb ranks.
As early as last month, the Mexico-based WBC has ruled that the bantam throne — should it be vacated by Inoue — will tap Moloney and Donaire as the official contenders for the title.
Moloney and Donaire have one thing in common.
They both lost to Inoue with Moloney going down in 2020 and Donaire falling in 2019 and 2022.
Still, Donaire, who turned 40 last month, remains a livewire foe, according to Moloney.
“It’s a dream to fight one of the best fighters of the past three decades. Donaire is one of the greatest of all time,” Moloney, holder of a 25-2 win-loss record with 19 knockouts.
Donaire lost to Inoue on points the first time they met but got demolished in less than two rounds in their encounter last June.
But Moloney insists that the Filipino-American four-division champion can’t be taken for granted.
“It’s more motivation, however, to be able to beat such a great fighter, who’s still shown he has plenty left in the tank, it defines my legacy as a fighter and a champion. That’s the goal for any fighter, and I hopefully get to do that against Nonito Donaire,” Moloney said in an article posted by boxingscene.
“Stylistically, this is a great fight. I’ve shown I have many different tricks up my sleeve, and Nonito is an adaptable fighter. This could be a boxing clinic or an all-out war. I’m ready for both. You won’t want to miss it.”
Also assured of other title fights in the first few months of 2023 are ex-world champion Marlon Tapales against Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan for the World Boxing Association super-bantam jewels and Jade Bornea for the International Boxing Federation super-flyweight diadem of Argentine Fernando Martinez.
Tapales and Bornea are both based and training in Los Angeles.