Franco Upsets Australia’s Moloney in Boxing’s First Title Fight Under COVID-19 Protocol
San Antonio’s Joshua Franco stuns undefeated champion Andrew Moloney to win WBA Super Flyweight title in boxing’s first world title fight since the start of the coronavirus pandemic
LAS VEGAS (June 23, 2020) — San Antonio, Texas’ Josh Franco spoiled the USA arrival of Australia’s Moloney twins. In doing so he won the WBA Super Flyweight title from previously unbeaten 29-year old Andrew Moloney. The Summer Series main event was boxing’s first world title fight since the sports world was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Franco’s momentum against Moloney gradually engulfed the MGM Grand’s crowd-free Conference Center, and an 11th round knockdown secured the stunning victory by the determined Franco.
Moloney’s work, pace and movement separated him from Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) through the opening round. In the second round Franco began to find his groove and establish the offense that would result in an “And the new…” by night’s end. The three judges scored the fight 115-112 and 114-113 on two cards.
Franco absorbed some clean shots from Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs), and he handled the Australian’s digging left hooks to the right side of his body. In the second stanza Franco lined up his uppercut, and started finding his openings.
In the fourth round, Moloney responded to Franco’s outburst in the preceding round. Franco wasn’t able to find him as easily, and when he was within range the Aussie scored with a few big right hands. Franco’s steadiness would start to take control starting in the fifth round.
Moloney’s punches started to lose the steam that was apparent in the first frame. Franco began dominating the action at mid-range and inside. Moloney’s movement began less problematic, but he engaged inside in the opening of round seven.
Franco seized control of the fight in the eighth, connected with a big flurry before the final minute of the ninth round and right hand opened up a cut above Moloney’s left eye in the 10th. The streaming blood served as an impetus for Franco early in round 11, as the San Antonio native dropped the champion with a flurry of shots following a lunging left hand that drove Moloney’s head back towards the ropes.
Moloney beat the count and immediately got on his bike, looking to stay outside and regroup over the next minute. He attempted to move back to mid-range before the end of the round, but the sharpness displayed with his earlier combinations was gone.
Moloney put up a respectable effort in the final round to attempt to retain his belt, but Franco’s steady attack remained intact, and a spoiled debut seemed inevitable.
After the cards were announced Franco and trainer Robert Garcia celebrated as if they were being rooted on by a raucous jam-packed MGM Grand Garden.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank