Throughout fight week, Joshua Franco discussed how excited and motivated he was for the opportunity to fight for a world title. “The Professor” was able to be a part of Top Rank’s first title fight since March. With the coronavirus pandemic mixing things up, Franco was able to take advantage, and then some.
Inside the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Franco (17-1-2) shined as he beat WBA Super-Flyweight Champion Andrew Moloney (21-1) to win the title. Franco won via unanimous decision (115-112, 114-113, 114-113).
As has become a tradition with his early fights, Moloney was swinging right out of the gate. The announcers had him landing 11 connected shots on 66 attempts compared to four landing for Franco. He would hit nice and tight shots to start.
Franco looked like he was being patient as Moloney hit body shot after body shot. You could hear his power all over the empty arena. Franco, however, was able to land some counter shots, if only for a brief moment. He would keep the elbow by the head of Moloney to bait him, but in the early rounds, Moloney looked calm and collected. Mid-range shots were key as to not try and get to close to one another. Moloney would hit combinations in the fifth, but Franco landed a side swipe shot.
From the fifth round on, something finally clicked with Franco that had him on the ride of his life.
“After the fourth round, I gained the momentum and figured him out. I always knew this was possible,” Franco said. “I wasn’t nervous when the decision was being read. I knew I’d done enough to win this fight. My coach, Robert Garcia, had me ready. I’m going home with the belt.”
"The Professor" @JoshuaFranco_ made strong adjustments to become a world champion for the first time, as the TR on ESPN summer series saw its second notable main event upset. #MoloneyFranco pic.twitter.com/cZmIaKg1eW
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 24, 2020
Franco would land head combinations and wouldn’t stop. Moloney would stick to the body to subdue Franco. It was not enough, as Moloney looked slower than before. While Moloney changed it up and went for the head, Franco did the same and went to the body. A game of cat and mouse was being played and after a while, it was Franco who was the predator.
Moloney tried staying at long-range with his jabs but Franco found him. He pushed Moloney away and ended up knocking him down in the tenth. It may have looked like a slip. By that point, Franco would land head shots that had Moloney bleeding by the eye. He would continue to smother Moloney with shots to the face until a knockdown in the eleventh. Moloney tried buying himself some time as Franco’s crushing blows caused plenty of damage.
Moloney would try and stay alive but missed key shots. By the end of the fight, the judges saw all they needed to when it came to Franco’s dominance.
CompuBox had Franco landing 231 shots out of 789 while Moloney only landed 191 out of 663. He had an 82-36 advantage in punches landed from rounds nine through 11. One of the more interesting stats was the body shots. After landing 53 in the first eight rounds, Moloney only hit ten in the last four.
Moloney must now go back to the drawing board. His brother, Jason, will look to avenge the loss by winning his fight this Thursday. Andrew’s 21-fight unbeaten streak has come to an end, with only one defense of the WBA Super-Flyweight Title.
As for Franco, the former bantamweight contender has now won two in a row after going 1-0-2 with Oscar Negrete. He has not lost a bout since 2018.