Australian Andrew Moloney has fallen short in his bid to capture the WBA Super Flyweight title, losing to American champion Joshua Franco via unanimous decision (116-112 x3) in Oklahoma.
Fast-paced and action-packed for a full 12 rounds, Franco had all the answers for a gallant Moloney who showed incredible heart until the final bell.
The opening round saw Franco negate the jab that had caused him problems in their previous meeting. Through well-timed parrying and head movement, he was able to land a heavy right hand in the last minute.
Picking up on this, Moloney shifted focus from the head to the body, jabbing and ripping at Franco’s right side. The Australian’s good work was somewhat outdone, however, by a heavy three punch combination in the dying seconds of the second stanza.
Seeing that the jab was now being timed by Franco, Moloney increased his output of body punches in the third. Superior head movement also led to openings for right hands to the head.
Franco put an exclamation point on his strong start with a decisive fifth round though. A powerful uppercut timed from a missed jab backed Moloney into the ropes, where his opponent went about unloading a barrage of power punches.
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Despite the control shown by Franco, Moloney continued to move forward. To close out the sixth, the Melbournian got the better of the exchanges to finish the first half of the fight.
Most of Australia rose in unison in the seventh round when what appeared to be a well-timed straight right hand from Moloney resulted in the champion hitting the canvas.
Replays showed that the punch missed however and no knockdown was ruled as both fighters gathered the advice of their trainers.
“You’ve got to go” was the call of Angelo Hyder in the corner of Moloney and he did just that.
The pupil marched forward at Franco in the championship rounds looking to land a fight-ending blow and was successful on occasion with the straight right hand.
Up to the challenge though, the American kept composed.
Fighting behind an educated lead hand that landed repeatedly in the form of an uppercut, Franco maintained his advantage to close out the fight and retain his title.
With the result also comes a rubber stamp on the controversial trilogy between the pair.
After Franco took the first meeting in June 2020, the re-match in November ended in a highly debated no-contest.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled that an accidental head clash had caused swelling to the eye of the San Antonio native despite replays showing no such evidence.
Now holding two wins over Moloney, Franco will be looking to test himself against fellow elites of the division.
Earlier on the card, Andrew’s twin brother Jason scored a 10 round unanimous decision win over Joshua Greer for the WBC Silver Bantamweight title.
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