Former K-1 Champion Yoshiki Takei Makes History and Beats Jason Moloney to Become WBO Boxing World Champion

May 10, 2024
Photo: Yuichi Yamazaki / AFP
Yoshiki Takei made history, defeating Jason Moloney by decision to become the new WBO Bantamweight World Champion.

On May 6, Yoshiki Takei made his mark in the boxing history book, as he won the WBO World Title from Jason Moloney at Tokyo Dome.

With less than 10 boxing fights under his belt, the Japanese dominated the Australian for the majority of the fight duration. Takei faced a slight hiccup in the first round when he was deducted a point for low blows despite the punches seemingly landing on Moloney's body.

While there are other fighters that won world titles in both kickboxing and boxing – namely Khalid Rahilou, Troy Dorsey, Vitaly Klischko, Chris Algieri, and Sergey Lipinets – Takei is definitely the most prolific name when it comes comes to his K-1 achievements. 

Nevertheless, the champion remained gun-shy and looked outmatched for nearly the entire fight. He appeared puzzled by the challenger's power and unorthodox kickboxing-based style. Takei landed at will from his southpaw stance with Moloney having no answers to Takei’s left straights.

In the final round with the belt within his grasp, the Japanese appeared to run out of stamina and Moloney smelled blood and brawled with the challenger, landing dozens of blows, but could not drop the Japanese.

Winning by unanimous decision, Yoshiki Takei became the new WBO Bantamweight World Champion and Japan's 100th boxing world champion. The newly crowned champion addressed the crowd, in a fashion solely missed by K-1 fans, "Takei from Adachi Ward has become world champion at the Tokyo Dome!". 

At the height of the pandemic in December 2020, Takei took a massive gamble, vacating his K-1 title and his position as then pound-for-pound kickboxing great to venture into boxing. Two years ago, he sat on the sideline, watching his fellow K-1 champions compete under the spotlight of THE MATCH 2022, at the Tokyo Dome.

Now, with the eyes of the nation and the world on him, he pulled off the biggest victory at the biggest stage of his career. Headlined by Naoya Inoue, the event was the first boxing event in 34 years at the Tokyo Dome since Buster Douglas stunned Mike Tyson.

Interestingly, the 4 world champions at Bantamweight are now all Japanese. The newly minted WBO champion Yoshiki Takei is now at the top of the division along with WBC champion Junto Nakatani, IBF champion Ryosuke Nishida, and WBA champion Takuma Inoue who successfully defended his title just before Takei won his title. This could set the stage for super fights in the future.