SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 23, 2020 – As professional boxing starts its third week of action in the U.S. in the pandemic era, fans saw their first title defense in Tuesday’s main event from The Bubble at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Joshua “The Professor” Franco of San Antonio, Texas (16-1-2, 8 KOs) taught Andrew Moloney of Australia (21-0, 14 KOs) a hard lesson, sending Moloney home without his title after delivering a knockdown on the way to a 12 round decision victory by scores of 115 – 112 (Julie Lederman) and 114 – 113 X 2 (Patricia Morse-Jarman and Dave Moretti). Franco is now the new WBA Super Flyweight world champion. It was Moloney’s first professional loss.
“It’s such a great feeling you know, it hasn’t hit me yet,” said Franco. “I knew the hard work would pay off in the end.”
Moloney came out confidently and busier from the opening bell. Franco seemed content to study and size up Moloney. In the second round, Franco began to throw and land uppercuts on Moloney. Franco continues to land solid punches, but Moloney found success to the body at the end of three rounds and kept right at it into the fourth round. Franco started feeling the heat and Franco started engaging with left hooks. Suddenly fans were seeing the all-action fight you expect from the super flyweight division.
Urged on from the corner by vocal trainer Robert Garcia, Franco responded with stepped-up offense through combination punching and shut down Maloney for a spell in the fifth round. Franco added bodywork to the exchanges with Moloney in the sixth round. As the fight hit the middle rounds, Franco got his timing down against Moloney, and his work and connect rate continued climbing. But Maloney still presented a danger.
Professor Franco puts together a smart performance
Franco’s accuracy and pressure got the better of Moloney, as Garcia told Franco to keep letting his hands go. Moloney scored with selected body shots but spent too much time moving versus setting his feet to deliver punches with power behind them.
The pressure paid off big for Franco in the championship rounds. Moloney suffered a cut from a punch in the tenth round. Worn down by Franco’s pressure and perhaps distracted by the cut, Franco scored a knockdown in the 11th round on a seven punch combination, anchored by a left hook doing the lion’s share of damage. Moloney got off the canvas, and give him credit for not giving up. He wasn’t about to meekly hand over his belt to Franco; he was going to make him take it.
As Garcia cheered him on, Franco poured it on until the final bell. The strong finish made up the difference.
“It was real crucial, I needed that knockdown,” said Franco. “But little by little, I was breaking him down, I could hear little noises when I kept hitting him.”
Franco shares the win with trainer Robert Garcia
Franco gave credit to Robert Garcia for pushing him toward the victory. “Robert kept me in the zone. He’s made many world champions. He knows the words to say, he kept me focused, he made me a world champion,” said Franco. Franco can also thank Oscar Negrete, who took him through a three-fight trilogy in the Gatti vs. Ward spirit which helped toughen Franco up for the challenge against Moloney.
Negrete was originally set to fight Moloney’s twin brother Jason Moloney on Thursday but withdrew due to a detached retina. Moloney will instead face Leonardo Baez of Mexico.
Featherweight finesse: Christopher Diaz scores win over Jason Sanchez
Under the long-distance guidance of trainer Freddie Roach, Christopher Diaz of Puerto Rico (25-2, 16 KOs) delivered a solid performance against Jason Sanchez of Albuquerque (15-1, 8 KOs). Diaz’s experience was the difference. He’s fought twice the number of professional rounds as Sanchez against better quality opposition. He displayed a greater variety of offensive tools, and stayed disciplined behind his jab, forcing Sanchez to work far harder to land punches and making him pay with body shots when he stood in front of Diaz too long. It was a polished performance rather than a thirller.
Diaz and Sanchez landed nearly the same amount of punches (116 to 115), but Diaz was far more efficient, connecting at 31 percent versus 26 percent for Sanchez.
Diaz had to train via FaceTime with his California based team from Puerto Rico and thanked everyone for making it work. “My mindset, I worked out at the gym – I can’t even travel to California. We worked as a team and we did a great job.”
“I’ve grown as a man, as a fighter, as a father. I shined today, I will shine again for the world title,” said Diaz, who’d like to fight Jessie Magdaleno who won a messy bout by disqualification of his opponent last week. Diaz says he can win at both 126 pounds and 122 pounds. “See the weigh-in? I weighed 124. I was eating, I was drinking. I can make 122. I want to be champion at 122 and fight at 126 too,” said Diaz.
Olguin, Contreras win undercard bouts
Junior welterweight Miguel Contreras of Bakersfield (11-0, 6 KOs) gave Rolando Vargas of Milwaukee (5-1, 5 KOs) too much to handle winning their six-round fight by unanimous scorecards of 58 – 56 X 3. Contreras is part of an emerging talent pool from California’s Central Valley along with Jose Ramirez and Gabriel Flores, Jr.
The big men kicked off Tuesday’s action. Heavyweight Helaman Olguin of Utah, originally from Mexico (8-3, 3 KOs) dealt Adam Stewart of Phoenix (8-1, 5 KOs) his first professional loss in a majority decision win. Scores were 58-56 X 2 and 57-57. Olguin was busier in the ring, and benefitted from Stewart suffering a cut early in the fight that distracted him throughout. These are the issues you need to learn to overcome as part of the Sweet Science.
Note: The scheduled Joseph Adorno vs. Alexis del Bosque bout was called off when Adorno suffered dehydration at the weigh-in and was transported to a Las Vegas hospital for treatment.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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