TULSA, Oklahoma – After months of criticism, controversy, trash-talking and disappointment, we finally had the third fight between Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney.
But in the end, it was all one-sided.
Saturday marked nine months to the day that the second fight between Franco and Moloney ended in a no-contest after an accidental headbutt; a fight that followed an upset victory for Franco who claimed the WBA World Super Flyweight title in June of 2020.
In past fights, Franco has been known for taking his time to build up an aggressive attack after the first few rounds.
That wasn’t the case Saturday on ESPN.
The San Antonio champion was locked in from the opening bell. Unlike the second match between the two warriors, Franco came out on the offensive, backing Moloney into the ropes all night. Franco’s attack was well-timed, smart and quick.
More importantly, it was consistent in every round.
Franco told KSAT 12 Sports last month that his key to victory was sticking to his game plan and that’s exactly what he did.
The most action Moloney generated on national television was referee Jack Reese warning him to stop holding Franco’s arm multiple times. He was also warned to stop swinging his head to hit Franco when the two were in close contact.
Halfway through the seventh round, Franco collapsed to the canvas after several punches were thrown and Moloney raised his arms, looking like he had scored a knockdown. After the round, the “knockdown” was revealed to be a slip and Moloney never made any contact, which explains why he never pressured Franco after that when most fighters would have pursued an injured boxer. The “knockdown” was overturned between rounds after replay was used.
Not once during the bout did Moloney ever look to be in any kind of rhythm except for the ninth round, when Moloney put together several successful attacks that backed up Franco, which was rare in Saturday’s main event.
By then, it was too little too late as Franco dominated the rest of the rounds, just like he did in rounds one through eight.
Franco won by unanimous decision by scoring 116-112 on all three judges scorecards. Franco improves to 18-1-2 and retains the WBA World Super Flyweight title.
Saturday’s win also marks the second time Franco came out the victor in a trilogy match. Franco faced Oscar Negrete three times in 2018-2019, with Franco coming out on top with a win and two draws.
This latest trilogy fight might be the best 12 rounds Franco has ever fought because of Franco’s focus and accuracy.
However, Moloney failed to meet the expectations (again) for a title fight. At least in all three fights against Negrete, both fighters battled until the very end, making it extremely hard to score.
Simply put, Saturday was a total dominance by Team Franco.
Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 for over 18 years and is an award-winning producer. To submit story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org