LAS VEGAS – Saturday night in Las Vegas was nothing boxing fans were expecting to see.
After waiting a half-hour for a college football blowout to wrap on ESPN, fans had to wait almost another 30 minutes for the conclusion of a fight that stopped after two rounds.
San Antonio’s Joshua Franco was defending his WBA World Super Flyweight title against Australia’s Andrew Moloney, the man Franco took the belt from in June. Moloney was the heavy favorite in the first showdown. Saturday, the tables had turned for Franco.
Inside the ring at the MGM Grand Conference Center, where 100 guests were in attendance for the first time since boxing’s restart in the summer, fans saw a determined Moloney, who promised a faster and stronger start compared to the first showdown.
Moloney kept his promise. Moloney landed 25 total punches in the first round including 13 jabs compared to Franco’s 11 total punches landed.
It was one of those jabs that became the center of a controversy Saturday night. Or perhaps it was an accidental head-butt, depending how you saw the fight unfold.
Moloney landed a clean left jab to Franco’s right eye in the first round. There were numerous times the two fighters had to be separated in the opening round and during the close contact, that is when there was a clash of heads and a accidental head-butt according to the referees inside and outside the ring.
Franco’s right eye immediately began to swell badly. The ringside doctor examined Franco but was given the green light to continue fighting in the second round. Despite the heroic effort, Franco was clearly troubled by that right eye, unable to land timely punches and having to protect his eye from another punch.