It was another night of disappointment for Andrew Moloney in his third attempt against Joshua Franco.
After a surprise upset last June and an ugly, controversial no-decision in November, Moloney (21-2, 14 KO) was seeking vindication in the trilogy fight. He started off very well, moving laterally and keeping control of the distance. Franco (18-1-2, 8 KO) started stringing together offense in the middle stages, winning rounds definitively.
It’s generally not a good sign when the referee gets heavy coverage, but kudos to Jack Reiss in this one. On loan from California, the well-respected veteran managed the action brilliantly, instructing the fighters out of clinches and issuing warnings when needed without taking over the flow of the fight.
It worked against Moloney, who was called out for holding and aggressively warned for leading with the crown of his head. Moloney seemed to fight a bit off balance when warned about his shenanigans, and Franco won clear rounds in the middle stages.
Round 7 looked like it might be a major swing round in Moloney’s favor, and featured what was ruled live as a knockdown. But replay later confirmed that Franco’s visit to the canvas did not come from a punch.
A crucial moment here between rounds 7 and 8— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 15, 2021
What was ruled a knockdown for @AndrewMoloney is overturned after going to replay.#FrancoMoloney3 | LIVE NOW on ESPN pic.twitter.com/hQtI2106TA
Kudos to Jack Reiss, who called for video review right after the count, ordered the judges to hold their scorecards, and got the correction confirmed and announced all within the 1 minute break. It was all a wonderful counterpoint to the 26 minute debacle we witnessed the last time Franco and Moloney faced off in November of 2020.
Moloney tried a variety of approaches, even planting feet to square off and trade with Franco towards the end. But, it wasn’t enough, and Franco once again sent Moloney to defeat. Bad Left Hook scored it 115-113 for Franco, with all three judges leaning further in Franco’s direction on 116-112 cards.
AND STILL!— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 15, 2021
A one-of-a-kind trilogy comes to a close, with @JoshuaFranco_ defending his WBA Super Flyweight strap via Unanimous Decision (116-112 x3). #FrancoMoloney3 pic.twitter.com/TwrTf8bFzP
Nico Ali Walsh TKO-1 Jordan Weeks
Here’s what we learned about Nico Ali Walsh tonight:
- Muhammad Ali was his grandfather
- Flavor Flav is a close family friend
- He’s willing to wear 50 year old pants in a boxing match
- He can steamroll an MMA fighter with very questionable defensive skills
If you didn’t hear or see any of that for yourself, you’ll definitely get the chance again on an ESPN/Top Rank show, as Nico Ali Walsh needed just 1:49 to end the show and maintain his marketability.
And the pro career for the grandson of The Greatest is officially up and running @NicoAliX74 (1-0, 1 KO) earns the first round stoppage!#FrancoMoloney3 | ESPN pic.twitter.com/kFOqPDZrSY— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 15, 2021
Walsh (1-0, 1 KO) didn’t embarrass himself, and seemed to have a good time in his pro boxing debut. Jordan Weeks (4-2, 2 KO) fell down good and hard, and presumably goes back to MMA.
If you believe great boxers are bred like racehorses, you weren’t disappointed tonight. If you aren’t so sure? Well, ESPN will get at least one more chance to convince you with feature pieces and family scrapbooks whenever the STILL UNDEFEATED Nico Ali Walsh attempts to extend his knockout streak to two fights.
It's been an emotional journey, but @NicoAliX74 handled the immense pressure of his pro debut beautifully.— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 15, 2021
Can't wait to see where it goes from here. #FrancoMoloney | LIVE on ESPN pic.twitter.com/aMMC3UcP5A
Arnold Barboza UD-10 Antonio Moran
The opener was a lively showcase for the talent of Arnold Barboza Jr. and the toughness of Antonio Moran.
Barboza (26-0, 10 KO) needed a round to find his distance and timing, but took control in the second after breaking Moran’s nose.
.@jrBarbozaArnold is off to a sharp start, lighting up Antonio Moran up top early, looking to make a massive statement as the Junior Welterweight division's top contender. #FrancoMoloney3 | LIVE NOW on ESPN pic.twitter.com/xZYEGEnh09— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 15, 2021
Credit to Moran (26-5-1, 19 KO), who gritted his teeth and fought his heart out through eight and a half rounds of unanesthetized rhinoplasty. Barboza landed clean, heavy shots on that broken nose throughout, but Moran hung in there and kept fighting aggressively until the very end.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) August 15, 2021
After a fast start for @jrBarbozaArnold, Antonio Moran has rallied from a broken nose and turned it into a firefight heading into the final two rounds. #FrancoMoloney3 | LIVE NOW on ESPN pic.twitter.com/0Ipin2IKQY
The judges scored it 99-91 (x2) and 100-90 for Barboza, and BLH had it 98-92. It was a much closer and livelier fight than the scores would suggest, but definitely a clear and impressive victory for Barboza.