In what is fast becoming the norm, Top Rank and ESPN team up for three fight cards this week. The first of two shows inside The Bubble at MGM Grand, Las Vegas features a first World title contest, and is headlined by one of two twins, with the other being showcased on Thursday night.
Unbeaten Australian Andrew Moloney (21-0, KO14) fights in the USA for the first time, and also makes the first defence of the WBA Super-Flyweight title after being upgraded from interim champion status. Andrew’s twin brother Jason headlines Thursday’s Top Rank Card.
29-year-old Andrew has been steadily building a profile in his native Australia. Turning professional in October 2014 after striking Gold at the Commonwealth Games of the same year in Glasgow.
“The Monster” has been held in good regard by the WBA for a while. After serving as their Oceanic champion at Bantamweight and Super-Flyweight, and he also captured the vacant Commonwealth Super-Flyweight title in October 2017 with a fourth round stoppage of Hashimu Zuberi.
From there, Moloney has gone from strength to strength, and arguably his best win came less than a year later. A dominant tenth and final session stoppage of former World champion Luis Conception, the Panamanian who had lost the WBA Super Flyweight crown to Britain’s Kal Yafai in December 2016.
The win put Moloney in World title contention, and he had to travel outside of Australia for the first time as a pro in March 2019 to take on the dangerous Miguel Gonzalez in the Chilean’s back yard. In a WBA World title eliminator, Moloney stopped Gonzalez in eight rounds.
The New South Wales resident kept busy with a second round win three months later, and his crack at the interim WBA Super-Flyweight title arrived in November last year.
Brooklyn-based Guyanese Elton Dharry burst Moloney’s ear drum in the fifth, but the Aussie roared back to force a stoppage due to a cut on the eye of Dharry in the ninth.
Moloney would be elevated to full WBA champion in March 2020, with Nicaraguan hardman Roman Gonzalez elevated to “Super” champion after his knockout win over Kal Yafai at the end of February.
Moloney now comes to showcase his talents in Las Vegas, with a potential meeting with Gonzalez looming if a Gonzalez v Juan Francisco Estrada rematch can’t be agreed.
For now, Moloney must stay focused, and take care of a first defence against San Antonio, Texas’ Joshua Franco (16-1-2, KO8), who challenges for World honours for the first time.
24-year-old Franco has been a professional since August 2015, and built a 13 fight unbeaten streak before running into Argentina’s Lucas Emanuel Fernandez Leone in Puerto Rico back in March 2018.
After scoring a first round knockdown, and being comfortably ahead on two cards going into the ninth of a ten rounder, Leone scored the stoppage to hand Franco a first defeat.
Since then, Franco has won three and drawn two of his five fights, with a trilogy of fights with Oscar Negrete seeing the pair unable to be separated twice and a Franco split decision win sandwiched in between.
Franco’s last fight came in January this year, as he stopped Jose Alejandro Burgos in nine at the Alamodome.
Prediction: Franco is certainly durable, having been a ten round distance on three occasions, but can be hit, and has previously been stopped. Moloney is looking to make a big enough splash on his US debut to get people talking, but I feel he may be forced to go the distance here, maybe after scoring a knockdown, for a clear points win.
Heading the undercard is a ten rounder at Featherweight, where former World title challenger, Puerto Rico’s Christopher Diaz (25-2, KO16), takes on another former World title challenger in Albuquerque’s Jason Sanchez (15-1, KO8).
Diaz failed in an attempt at the WBO Super-Featherweight crown July 2018 when clearly outscored by Japan’s Masayuke Ito, while Sanchez was widely outpointed himself in a June 2019 defeat to WBO Featherweight champion, Oscar Valdez.
Both men’s last opponent was Adeilson Dos Santos, with Sanchez scoring a fourth round knockout in October 2019, and Diaz took an eight round decision in January 2020.
An eight-rounder at Lightweight sees 21-year-old Joseph Adorno (14-0-1, KO12) who drew over eight against Hector Garcia last time out, go in against experienced Mexican Alexis del Bosque (17-5, KO9) who is on a four fight winning streak.
Two six round fights round off the card. Someone’s “0” has to go at Super-Lightweight, where Miguel Contreras (10-0, KO6) and Rolando Vargas (5-0, KO5) put their unbeaten records on the line. At Heavyweight, Adam Stewart (8-0-1, KO5) and Helaman Olguin (7-3, KO3) should provide a fun fight.