Joshua Franco upset the odds and ruined Andrew Moloney’s US debut by taking the Australian’s WBA Super-Flyweight title via unanimous decision in a real war of attrition inside The Bubble at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
Going into the contest, Moloney was making a first defence of a title he had been upgraded to in March after previously serving as interim champion. But, by the end of the fight he was nursing a first loss of his career, which ultimately swung on an eleventh round knockdown.
It was a hard fought, close quarters battle for the most part, and began with Moloney investing to Franco’s body, and seemingly taking the lions share of the early sessions. Franco though crucially turned the screw down the stretch with a high work rate and intensity as he grew in confidence more and more as the rounds went on.
Round ten saw Franco score telling damage, when a huge overhand right landed which cut Moloney by the left eye.
The penultimate session was where the fight would be won on the cards though, as Franco applied more and more pressure, and an accumulation of punches forced Moloney to take refuge on the canvas. The champion would survive the count, and the rest of the bout as the pairs fate lay in the hands of the judges.
Two scores of 114-113 reflected just how significant the knockdown was, with a third verdict of 115-112 confirming Franco as the new champion. In fact, all three judges gave the last four rounds to Franco, including the knockdown, which turned the fight in the man from San Antonio’s favour.
“I didn’t feel his power at all” said Franco post fight. “I felt little by little, I was breaking him down. I knew I would get to him”.
“It’s such a great feeling [to be champion]. It still hasn’t hit me yet. I can’t believe it. I’m world champion, I worked so hard for this. I knew it would pay off in the end”.
The fallen champion admitted that he had come up short against his opponent.
“It just wasn’t my night tonight” said Moloney. “This wasn’t the best version of Andrew Moloney, but full credit to Joshua Franco. He deserved to win the title with his effort, he closed the fight strong like a true champion”.
According to ESPN, Moloney vomited in his locker room before he made it to the medical tent inside the MGM Grand for assessment, and he was taken to hospital as a precaution. Moloney was later released from hospital with two perforated eardrums.
This was a first loss in 22 outings for Moloney, but a rematch could be a decent next step as the fight was a close one.
Christopher Diaz won the battle of former world title challengers on the undercard, as he took a clear decision win against Jason Sanchez in a ten round Featherweight attraction.
Diaz was simply too quick for his opponent, who struggled to close the range in the first half of the fight to his cost. Sanchez did let his hands go a lot more in the later rounds, but Diaz had done more than enough to get the nod, which he duly did by scores of 98-92 (twice) and 97-93.
At Super-Lightweight, Miguel Contreras won the battle of the unbeaten, as he took a six round decision win against Rolando Vargas in a fast paced fun fight. Three scores of 58-56 won the day for Contreras.
If that fight was fast paced, then the Heavyweight fight on the card was the polar opposite, as Helaman Olguin plodded his way to a majority verdict against Adam Stewart. It was a contest devoid of action, and Olguin was adjudged a 58-56 winner on two cards, with the third tallying a 57-57 draw.