It’s the third chapter of a super flyweight rivalry on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as Joshua Franco defends his WBA world title against Andrew Moloney to complete a trilogy.
Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) started off as the favourite in their original June 2020 meeting inside the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas, but Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) scored a crucial seventh round knockdown, and then edged Moloney out by just a single point on two cards, and two points on the third to take a tight decision win.
A rematch was a natural, but the November 2020 sequel was a controversial one.
Moloney dominated the early proceedings, closing his rival eye shut from a stiff jab, but, bizarrely, the referee ruled a clash of heads had caused the damage, and the fight was ruled a no contest through two rounds. It is still unclear where that incident took place.
The Australian appealed the decision, to no avail, and here we are for a third time.
‘The Monster’ had built a steady unbeaten record prior to meeting the Texxan, and became WBA interim champion in November 2019 with an eighth round retirement win against Elton Dharry in Melbourne.
Franco’s form was patchy before taking on his opponent this weekend, with his previous half dozen contests garnering a 3-2-1 record, drawing twice with Oscar Negrete, and suffering a ninth round stoppage loss to Lucas Fernandez in March 2018.
The pair know each other well, and an intriguing match awaits this weekend.
Prediction: Moloney made a promising start to the rematch, and will hope to build on that success in the third fight. As long he can keep out of the danger zone of the relentless Franco, I think the 30-year-old can take a clear points win to leave the series tied.
Moloney looks to bounce back from Inoue loss
Andrew’s twin brother, Jason Moloney, will be looking to get back to winning ways, but the two-time former world title challenger will have a decent test in a crossroads clash with Joshua Greer Jr.
The match is set for ten, with the vacant WBC Silver bantamweight title the prize for the victor.
Moloney (21-2, 18 KOs) was blasted to defeat by the rampant Naoya Inoue last time out in October 2020, as the Japanese defended his WBA ‘Super’ and IBF crowns with a seventh round knockout win.
Greer (22-2-2, 12 KOs) was highly touted up until around a year ago, but lost his way firstly in a shock majority decision defeat to Mike Plania after being floored twice, and he was held to a draw by the unheralded Edwin Rodriguez in November 2020.
Prediction: I think Moloney can take this one on the scorecards.
Arnold Barboza Jr is a man on the up, and the 29-year-old super lightweight has a ten round assignment against Antonio Moran.
It’s a decent test for Barboza (25-0, 10 KOs), who had to come off the deck in his last outing for the first time in his career, before taking the vacant WBO International title with a points win over Alex Saucedo.
Moran (26-4-1, 19 KOs) has had three fights at ten stone since moving up from lightweight, and he has only been stopped once, in his last fight at that weight, with Devin Haney halting him in seven in May 2019.
Prediction: The Mexican has won two and drawn one at his new weight, and Barboza should have enough to take a comfortable enough win over the distance in this one.
Muhammad Ali’s grandson makes debut
Nico Ali Walsh makes an eagerly awaited debut, as the grandson of the greatest, Muhammad Ali faces Jordan Weeks at Middleweight, while unbeaten heavyweight, Trey Lippe (17-0, 17 KOs), is also in action against Don Haynesworth (16-6-1, 14 KOs).
View this post on Instagram
There are four Super Featherweight contests on the bill.
Unbeaten Abraham Nova (19-0, 14 KOs) faces Richard Pumicpic (22-11-2, 7 KOs), whilst undefeated Albert Bell (18-0, 5 KOs) takes on Julio Cortez (15-2, 11 KOs).
Karlos Baldera (9-1, 8 KOs) tackles Fidel Cervantes (9-1-1, 4 KOs), whilst Genesis Servania (34-2, 16 KOs) meets Andres Cortes (14-0, 7 KOs).