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Joshua Franco makes his point the third time against Andrew Moloney

CATOOSA, OKLAHOMA - AUGUST 14: Joshua Franco (R) is victorious as he defeats Andrew Moloney (L) for the WBA super flyweight championship at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa on August 14, 2021 in Catoosa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
14
Aug

There were no head butts this time. There was no controversy this time. Joshua Franco made sure there was no doubt either, chewing up Andrew Moloney in a unanimous decision to retain his secondary WBA junior bantamweight title Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ranked No. 6 by The Ring at junior bantamweight, Franco (18-2-1, 8 knockouts, 1 NC) convincingly won on the scorecards of judges Karen Holderfield (116-112), Mike Ross (116-112) and David Sutherland (116-112).

Round after round, it seemed to be the same, Franco coming forward and Moloney (21-2, 14 KOs, 1 NC) in reverse.

Andrew Moloney (L) and Joshua Franco (R) exchange punches during their fight for the WBA super flyweight title fight. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Moloney had his moments, like in the second, when he bounced a few shots off of Franco’s head and dropped a few to the body, and in the seventh when referee Jack Reiss awarded Moloney with a knockdown with 1:39 to go in the seventh round on a right hand. Reiss kept telling Moloney, “We’re going to go to the replay, we’re going to go to the replay.”

It was determined it wasn’t a knockdown.

Aside from that, it was Franco working behind a strong, steady jab and using combination punching to break down Moloney, ranked No. 8 at 115 by The Ring.

“I had to switch it up on him,” Franco said. “He thought I was going to put pressure on him the whole time. That wasn’t working, so I had to switch it up and go to my boxing skills. I had fun with my rhythm, with my jab, my feet. I’m comfortable in there, and that’s what I did.

“I see bigger fights. I see Chocolatito, ‘Gallo” Estrada, Ioka, Ancajas. Any of those fighters, I want to unify. For sure, (this win) puts me in the top five, on the same list as all the other champions. I believe I’m top five.

“We just told each other, all that talking is part of the game, part of building the fight up. He’ll be world champion again. He’s a strong fighter. Nothing but respect to him. I wish him the best in his career.”

“I’ll have to use this as motivation to come back stronger,” Moloney said. “It’s going to be a long road back.”

CATOOSA, OKLAHOMA – AUGUST 14: Jordan Weeks (L) and Nico Ali Walsh (R) exchange punches during their fight at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa on August 14, 2021 in Catoosa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

On the undercard, middleweight Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, won his pro debut with a first-round knockout over Jordan Weeks (4-2, 2 KOs).

“This lived up completely to my expectations. It’s been an emotional journey, this whole ride, these last couple of months,” Ali Walsh said. “Obviously, my grandfather, I’m thinking about him so much. I miss him. It’s just an emotional journey, and thank you to Jordan Weeks and his people. Tough, tough kid. I think me and him made a little bit of history tonight.

“Honestly, it seems like a lot of pressure, but to me, it’s just my grandfather. To everyone else, to you guys and the crowd, he’s the greatest fighter who ever lived, maybe the greatest person. But to me, he’s the greatest grandfather.

“To hear those Ali chants was something that I’ll never forget. I didn’t expect that, to be honest, but it was special.”

Junior welterweight Arnold Barboza Jr. (26-0, 10 KOs) remained undefeated with a 10-round decision over Antonio Moran (26-5-1, 19 KOs).

“Moran is a true Mexican warrior,” Barboza said. “I thought I’d get the knockout, but he ate a lot of punches. My goal is to get that world title shot, and I am going to keep going until I make that a reality. I want any of the big names at 140 pounds.”

Jason Moloney, Andrew Moloney’s twin, started the Moloney family’s night off well by winning a 10-round decision over Joshua Greer Jr. (22-3-2, 14 KOs). It was the first time Jason Moloney (22-2, 18 KOs) fought in almost a year, since losing to Naoya Inoue in October 2020.

Heavyweight Trey Lippe Morrison (18-0, 17 KOs), the son of late heavyweight contender Tommy Morrison, went the distance for the first time in his career with a six-round decision victory over Don Haynesworth (16-7-1, 14 KOs). Junior lightweight Karlos Balderas (10-1, 9 KOs) stopped Fidel Cervantes (9-2-1, 4 KOs) at 2:03 pf the second round in a scheduled 6-rounder. In a scheduled eight-round junior lightweight battle, Andres Cortes (15-0, 8 KOs) stopped Genesis Servania (34-3, 16 KOs) in one.

Albert Bell (19-0, 5 KOs) won an eight-round junior lightweight decision over Julio Cortez (15-3, 11 KOs), and junior lightweight Abraham Nova (20-0, 14 KOs) won an eight-round decision over Richard Pumicpic (22-12-2, 7 KOs).

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.

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