Andrew Moloney won the interim WBA super flyweight title today in Melbourne, but beating Elton Dharry proved a tougher challenge than pretty much anyone anticipated.
The gutsy Dharry (24-6-1, 14 KO) had Moloney (21-0, 14 KO) in serious trouble in the fifth round, landing a beautiful right uppercut counter that stunned the 28-year-old Aussie contender — in fact, Moloney’s right knee hit the canvas, and it should have been scored a knockdown, but it happened so quickly that it’s legitimately likely that referee Ferlin Marsh just didn’t see the knee touch down.
For the back half of the fifth round, Moloney was reeling as Dharry, 33, looked to close the show and score a serious upset. But Moloney, whose legs were pretty well gone, managed to hold and hang on through the round.
“You tried to knock him out,” trainer Angelo Hyder barked at Moloney in the corner between rounds. “You didn’t listen to me, you disrespected him.”
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Moloney refocused and bounced back with a nice sixth round, where the tide really turned.
In that sixth round, Dharry’s right eye began to close shut due largely to the effective jab of Moloney. By the end of the sixth, Dharry clearly couldn’t see much of anything through that eye, but the officials appreciated his effort and gave him the chance to hang in there and fight back.
And he did fight back. Boxing through one eye, basically, Dharry kept landing shots, but Moloney was able to really beat up on him in the eighth round, and at the start of the ninth, when the doctor took another look, the fight was reasonably stopped, awarding Moloney a TKO victory at 0:01 of round nine.
“This is unbelievable,” Moloney said of winning a claim to the world title. “This has been so many years of hard work and sacrifices for this moment. I can’t believe it, it’s finally happened. It still hasn’t sunk in yet, I still think I’m dreaming, because I’ve dreamt it so many times.”
“I’m my toughest critic and I’m not really that happy with the fight, but I’m world champion,” Moloney added. Of Dharry, he said, “He’s a tough, tough man. World titles don’t come easy, and I was expecting a tough fight, and that’s what he gave me. Thank you, Elton.”
Moloney also addressed the WBA world titleholder, Kal Yafai: “Bring on Yafai. I’ve been chasing him for a long time now. Let’s make it happen.”
Moloney could well land a fight with Yafai or one of the other top fighters at 115 pounds, we’ll see.
As for Elton Dharry, this is a guy who came basically out of nowhere to get this fight. He’d been unbeaten for 10 years, but he also hadn’t fought anyone of real consequence during that time. But the 33-year-old, originally from Guyana and now based in Brooklyn, acquitted himself extremely well in this fight, and he should get more calls. He put in a tremendous effort in what turned out to be a war of a fight, raising his profile significantly in defeat.