Nine months ago, Australian Andrew Moloney was robbed of a world title victory against Joshua Franco by a hugely controversial no-decision verdict that even a half-hour video review failed to overturn.
The fight was stopped after just two rounds because of swelling around Franco’s eye which was ruled as being caused by an accidental headbutt, despite replays appearing to show it was caused by Moloney’s jab.
With the WBA super flyweight belt once again on the line when the pair came together on Sunday for a third time, the video review system worked perfectly – taking less than 30 seconds to come to the right decision.
Cruelly for Moloney, it wasn’t in his favour, as he slumped to a unanimous decision defeat (116-112 x3).
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American Franco was well in control of the bout until the 30-year-old Australian appeared to knock his opponent down with a powerful overhand right, halfway through the seventh round.
Moloney raised his hands in celebration of the potentially pivotal moment. But Franco immediately protested to referee Jack Reiss, claiming Moloney’s punch had missed and his fall was merely a slip.
The referee replied by telling the champion: “We can go to replay”. And the video review worked perfectly – immediately showing that Moloney had indeed missed.
“No knockdown,” the referee told the judges between rounds. “I made a mistake,” he conceded.
The valuable knockdown taken away, Moloney never quite managed to wrestle control of the fight and was comfortably defeated on the scorecards.
The Australian was gutted after the defeat, saying: “Instant replay worked for him tonight, didn’t it? It didn’t work for me (last fight).
“Look, I didn’t think it was a huge shot, but I did think I landed a shot at that moment and I thought it was a knockdown, but I’ll have to look at it. That was the call, and the referee has the right. That’s why they should use instant replay, to fix errors that were called.”
Much like their first bout, Franco controlled proceedings, using his uppercut to exceptional effect. And while Moloney battled gamely, particularly targeting his opponent’s body, he failed to land his trademark jab and never looked close to regaining the belt.
In a late twist, Moloney himself slipped to the canvas in the final round which was also rightly ruled a no-knockdown. But it was largely an afterthought in what was just the second defeat of Moloney’s career – both coming in world title fights against Franco.
Moloney said: “I feel like I let a lot of people down. I let my team down, I let my family down. We’ve all been away for eight months, and now it’s for nothing.”
“I’ll have to use this as motivation to come back stronger. It’s going to be a long road back.”
But there was one silver lining for the beaten Australian, with twin brother Jason claiming the WBC Silver bantamweight title with a decision win over Joshua Greer Jr earlier in the event.
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BROTHER’S BIG WIN
Twin brother Jason is back on the world title path after taking a unaminous decision victory (98-92, 98-92, 96-94) over Joshua Greer Jr to become the new WBC Silver bantamweight titleholder.
The 30-year-old had only lost two fights with both coming at world title level and Moloney insisted he belonged there.
Nine months ago Moloney took a fight many thought was beyond him, getting in the ring with Japanese pound-for-pound superstar Naoya Inoue.
Defeat on Sunday would have been a major setback to his world title hopes.
Moloney though controlled the fight for the majority, throwing two of the best punches of the bout in the fourth as his dominant jab and overall activity proved the difference.
Greer, on the other hand, struggled to keep his jab up or follow it up with combinations, leaving him looking for something more dramatic late in the fight.
It did not come though with the fight going to scorecards and ending in Moloney’s favour.
There was plenty of added interest in Sunday’s card with the professional boxing debut of Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali.
Ali Walsh beat Jordan Weeks in a first-round demolition job as he won by technical knockout – wearing a set of trunks made for his grandfather long ago.
Ali’s grandson stuns boxing world with demolition job in pro debut
Joshua Franco defeated Andrew Moloney to retain WBA super flyweight title by unanimous decision
Nico Ali Walsh defeated Jordan Weeks by first round technical knockout (cruiserweight)
Arnold Barboza Jr. defeated Antonio Moran by unanimous decision (super lightweight)
Jason Moloney defeated Joshua Greer by unanimous decision (bantamweight)
Karlos Balderas defeated Fidel Cervantes by knockout (lightweight)
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