Joshua Franco batters Andrew Moloney, scores upset decision win
Joshua Franco might have been the underdog going into his fight against Andrew Moloney Tuesday night, but he excelled in the ring where it mattered most.
Franco dropped Moloney en route to a hard-fought unanimous decision victory at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Scores were 114-113, 114-113, and 115-112 for Franco, who improves to 17-1-2, 8 knockouts.
Tuesday night marked a compelling bout between two fighters ranked in the top-10 by The Ring at 115 pounds. Entering the fight, Moloney was ranked No. 6 while Franco is four spots below at No. 10.
The Franco fight marked Moloney’s United States debut and the third fight in a multi-fight deal he, along with twin brother and bantamweight contender Jason Moloney, signed last year with Top Rank.
Franco entered the Moloney fight unbeaten in his previous five fights, including a trilogy against former world title challenger Oscar Negrete. Franco would win one of the three fights, while the other two were split-decision draws.
Moloney dictated the pace during the opening two rounds, connecting more punches as Franco attempted to measure Moloney. Throughout the first half of the fight, Moloney attempted to assert himself by throwing and landing left hooks to the body, which Franco took well.
“After the fourth round, I gained the momentum and figured him out,” said Franco after the fight.
By the middle rounds, Franco mixed his attack, which including closing the distance between the two fighters and following up with combinations after landing left-right combinations to the head. Franco proceeded to force Moloney to fight defensively by having him fight off his heels or against the ropes.
Franco swept the final three rounds of the fight, which included stunning Moloney with less than a minute left in round 10, thanks to a right-left combination to the head. The combination opened a cut over Moloney’s left eye, which complicated matters for him as his punch output decreased.
About 30 seconds into round 11, a barrage of punches dropped Moloney against the ropes. Moloney was able to beat the count, but was able to hold on as Franco looked to finish him. Franco was the more-effective fighter during the final round, winning it on all three judges’ scorecards. After the final bell sounded, Franco embraced trainer Robert Garcia.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” said Franco, who resides in San Antonio, Texas and is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. “I knew I’d done enough to win this fight. Robert Garcia had me ready. I’m going home with the (WBA regular) belt. I always knew this was possible.”
Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs), who resides in Kingscliff, Australia, was diplomatic in defeat.
“It wasn’t my night tonight. This was not 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.”
“I’ll be back. One loss won’t define me.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing