Last June, Joshua Franco did just enough to earn a unanimous decision over Andrew Moloney to win the WBA super flyweight title. In November, Moloney took the fight to Franco, but saw his hopes dashed when officials stopped the fight after just two rounds because of damage to Franco’s eye. Now, the two will settle the score with a trilogy fight on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Franco and Moloney are excellent – though perhaps not elite – super flyweights, and the winner might book a fight with one of the true top dogs in the division.
Eye damage causes controversial ending to second fight
What these two bring to the table is plenty of action, a compelling storyline, and the potential for a knockout at any time over the course of the fight.
Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) says he should have won the second fight. Even after a long replay process, officials ruled that an accidental headbutt closed Franco’s eye. But almost all observers agree that it was a punch just before the closure that did the damage. Now, the Australian gets another shot to show what he set out to prove in that second fight.
“I have absolutely no doubt that his eye was closed from a punch and I should have won that fight by TKO,” Moloney said to The Ring. “I’m sure Franco and his team all know that as well. It still makes me angry that the commission didn’t overturn the referee’s decision when it was so clear that there was no head clash and the damage was done by a punch.”
Of course, Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) sees things just a bit differently. He says that an earlier clash of heads in the first round damaged his right eye, which kept getting worse until it finally closed.
“It was a head butt that caused my eye to swell up,” Franco told the San Antonio Express-News. “He was holding a lot and trying to tie me up. He came in with his head. It wasn’t the first time. He had been doing that a lot.”
Oddsmakers make Moloney favorite in trilogy bout
Moloney will come into the third fight as the favorite, just as he did in the first two bouts. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Moloney as the -200 pick over Franco (+154). The oddsmaker sees the potential for Moloney to win the fight either by knockout (+175) or decision, while Franco’s most likely path to victory is on the cards (+310).
|Moloney-Franco 3 Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Andrew Moloney: -200||Joshua Franco: +154|
|Method of Victory|
|Moloney by KO/TKO: +175||Franco by KO/TKO: +700|
|Moloney by Decision: +175||Franco by Decision: +310|
For Moloney, the third fight represents an opportunity to right an injustice and regain the title that he sees as rightfully his.
“That belt means everything to me. I deserve it,” Moloney said after the second fight. “They’re taking it away from me. I landed 50 jabs on that eye. That’s why it’s shut.”
The fight is part of a busy Saturday in boxing, which includes a bantamweight title fight between Casimero Rigondeaux and John Riel Casimero.