Moloney in Las Vegas June 23 to fight Franco
By Anthony Cocks
WBA ‘regular’ super flyweight champion Andrew ‘The Monster’ Moloney 21-0 (14) has promised to put on a clinical display of power boxing when he defends his title against Joshua Franco 16-1-2 (8) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 23 live on ESPN.
The all-action Australian wants to make a statement in his first fight in the United States in what will be his debut for promoter Top Rank.
In his only road trip to date, Moloney travelled to Chile where he knocked out world-rated Miguel Gonzalez with a picture-perfect left hook in eight rounds in March last year.
Moloney seemed to be dominating the fight but the scorecards were surprising close at the time of the stoppage.
“I’m absolutely pumped to be making the first defence of my world title and headlining a great card at the MGM Grand. This is an absolute dream come true!” Moloney said in an exclusive interview with Maxboxing.
Franco is coming off a ninth-round stoppage of Jose Burgos in January after going 1-0-2 in a three-fight series with Oscar Negrete in back-to-back-to-back fights.
Negrete will face Moloney’s twin brother Jason at the same venue two nights after his fight.
Franco, a 24-year-old from Texas, has shown great combination punching in his previous fights but Moloney insists he isn’t worried.
“Franco is a very good fighter. He is fundamentally very good and puts his punches together very well,” Moloney said.
“I believe I have an edge in speed, power and am more versatile than he is. I believe this will be the difference on the night and why I will come out on top and continue my reign as world champion.”
Not surprisingly, Franco disagrees.
“I went 30 rounds with Negrete,” Franco said to the San Antonio Express News. “Having that victory over him gives me confidence.”
Franco has been training out of his garage before shifting his camp to Riverside, California under the auspices of gun trainer Robert Garcia.
“I’m happy for the opportunity, but I’m not going to be truly happy until I have the belt in my hands,” he said.
The 29-year-old Moloney claimed the interim WBA 115-pound title with an eighth-round stoppage of Elton Dharry in Melbourne last November when the ringside physician stopped the fight due to cuts. Moloney was dominating the fight at the time.
The WBA has since elevated Moloney to ‘regular’ champion, giving him a mandate to face ‘super’ champion and future Hall of Famer Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez 49-2 (41).
The little Nicaraguan master looked in vintage form when he knocked out previously undefeated Brit Kal Yafai 26-1 (15) in nine one-sided rounds in February.
“At the moment I’m not thinking about that fight as I don’t want to look past Joshua Franco but the Chocolatito fight is definitely a fight that excites me a lot,” Moloney said.
“I have watched his fights for many years and have been a fan of his. Chocolatito is no doubt a legend of the lighter weight divisions, me beating him would change my life and do huge things for my career.
“I believe I can beat Chocolatito but I will focus on that fight after I get passed Franco.”
While many boxers have taken advantage of the global coronavirus pandemic to take some time off, the Moloney twins remained in the gym to ensure they were ready to go the moment they got the call up.
That happened in mid-May when manager Tony Tolj gave them 24 hours to pack their bags.
“If Andrew wasn’t the world champion and Jason wasn’t the WBO number two rated, we wouldn’t have got the exemptions,” Tolj told Yahoo Sports.
“I rang the boys on Thursday and said ‘boys pack your stuff.’ I got the flights ready for Friday. We had to go to Sydney overnight and then Sydney to San Francisco and San Francisco to Las Vegas.
“Everyone on the Top Rank staff can’t understand, saying ‘it’s a miracle that you guys have been able to get in the country when we can’t even get Mexicans and Canadians’.”
The Moloneys saw the lockdown as an opportunity to get a leg-up on their opposition.
“Jason and I have a private gym so we were able to continue training all the way through the lockdown,” Moloney said.
“Even when it looked like we wouldn’t be fighting for a very long time we decided to use the time to improve as much as we could and stay in shape. We realised that a lot of fighters would be slacking off during that lockdown period so we knew we could use this time to get an advantage over our competition.
“We are also coming into the peak of our careers so we wanted to make sure we would be ready to fight as soon as boxing was allowed to start back up again.”