Column: Was Andrew Moloney Robbed of TKO Victory over Joshua Franco?
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Wed, 18 Nov 2020
Was it accumulation of hard punches from Andrew Moloney that caused the swelling of Joshua Franco's right eyes?
Or was it headbutt as referee Russell Mora ruled?
There seems to be much ado about this recent Las Vegas fight for a secondary WBA super flyweight belt (Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez holds the real belt) that even a fuming Bob Arum said that a rubber match if ever there will be would no longer be held in Nevada.
But the controversial official verdict to that fight ruled as no contest that allowed Franco to keep his belt is worth looking into.
For the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) has a system purposely to immediately run a review of the fight proceeding through video replay to determine right then and there if the referee call was right on the money, so to speak. It was like that the NBA used to review plays under question or dispute.
For thirty long minutes, NSAC officials reviewed the fight proceedings repeatedly from the opening bell up to end of the second round but they could not specifically and decisively pinpoint where the supposed headbutt occurred.
In fairness to Mora, he indeed momentarily stopped the action midway in the second round and ruled that an accidental headbutt had happened with Moloney as the offending party.
Moloney and Franco in close combat.
With no hard evidence at hand, the NSAC panel had to rely on the better judgment of the referee and affirm the no contest decision as the fight ended before the fourth round.
This is the first fight I saw where a fighter had severely damaged his opponent's eye very early in the fight. In fact, Franco seemed to be worrying about his right eye from the first exchanges of blows after the opening bell. But what is perplexing was he was fighting on a high guard from the onset. How Moloney managed to easily pierce that defense to severely damage his right eye that very early was a question mark.
Truth to tell Moloney did land a series of hard left jabs on Franco from the very first round but he almost always grabbed Franco in a clinch, with their heads coming together after connecting with his punches. It was in one of these episodes that Mora called a headbutt in the second round.
Moloney hit hard, yes, but is he capable of doing early severe damage on someone like Franco who is a durable, rugged fighter known for phone booth fighting? You should see Franco's trilogy with the tough as nails Oscar Negrete for a look at Franco's toughness and durability.
I doubt it.
Was Franco's right eye damage caused or made worse by a headbutt?
Possibly. But again, it was not clear when the headbutt happened, despite Mora's call and insistent claim.
My guess is that Franco already had a pre-existing right eye injury perhaps from previous fights or incurred in training that his camp hid from authorities for fear of having the scheduled rematch with Moloney reset or worst, scrapped.
How would they explain his unusual defensive high guard fighting stance from the get go?
That injury was worsened in the course of the fight as Franco was not used to fighting too defensively being a bell to bell all out fighter. And of course, his defense is not that solid in the first place.
Was Moloney robbed of a legit TKO win and a share of the WBA title?
I think so.
Franco also got stopped two years ago by Pureto Rico's Lucas Leone in the 9th round of a fight he was winning on two scorecards.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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