Andrew Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) sauntered his way to the ring. He came in smiling, undefeated and a world champion. But after 36 minutes with Joshua Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) none of those words applied.
Franco and Moloney let their hands go from the opening bell at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada tonight. What resulted was a classic. But an upset also took place as well.
Moloney just didn’t know it yet.
Moloney looked strong during the first four rounds of the contest. He stood in the middle of the ring, landed shots to the head, while also putting some water in the basement. Franco was unbothered. He pushed forward with a flippant attitude towards the power of his man and landed a few big shots of his own.
While most of the contest played out in a phone booth for much of the first half, the second half was all Franco. He punished Moloney with shots to the body and uppercuts to the head. He consistently got his man to place his back on the ropes and from there, he tee’d off.
Moloney quickly realized that Franco wanted a firefight and was not slowing down. So instead of fighting fire with fire, he tried to put out the flames, but it was far too late.
Franco poured on the pressure when he realized that his man began to back peddle. Moloney’s feet kept him out of trouble for much of the contest, but he ran out of room in the 11th.
The former Super Flyweight champion found himself pinned against the ropes with nowhere to go. Exactly where Franco wanted him. He let his hands go and down went Moloney.
He bounced right back up to his feet and gave referee Tony Weeks a head nod as if to say he was alright. But he was anything but. He spent the final minute of the 11th and the majority of the 12th fighting just to make it to the final bell where he was hoping for a friendly decision.
His wish almost came true, but not even the judges could take his moment away from him. The final scores at the end of the night were 115-112 and 114-113 twice, for the new WBA Super Flyweight world champion.
FINAL GRADE FOR JOSHUA FRANCO: A
Joshua Franco was given little respect from the oddsmakers, tabbing him as high as a +450 favorite before the night started. But he proved them wrong and fattened the bank accounts of whomever took a flier on him.
Forget about the close scorecards. Franco dominated the night. Andrew Moloney had all of the hype behind him, but the +450 underdog went in there and took it all.
Now, he puts himself in line for a huge fight and an even bigger payday. He isn’t the most technical fighter in the world, but he has the sort of will that you just can’t break.