Can Franco repeat victory over Moloney?
By Anthony Cocks and Zack Fitzpatrick
WBA ‘regular’ super flyweight champion Joshua ‘El Profesor’ Franco 17-1-2 (8) will make the first defense of his title in an immediate rematch with Andrew ‘The Monster’ Moloney 21-1 (14) at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
The bout will be on the undercard of the WBO welterweight title fight between champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford 36-0 (27) and challenger Kell Brook 39-2 (27).
Moloney entered the same ring holding the WBA strap at the venue back in June but after 12 hard-fought and fast-paced rounds left without the belt.
In that fight the 29-year-old Australian got off to a fast start, sweeping the early rounds. But American Franco, 25, made adjustments in the mid-rounds and finished the fight strongly, dropping Moloney in the 11th round to earn a close points decision by scores of 114-113, 115-112 and 114-113.
Will Franco continue to improve as champion or will Moloney get his revenge? Read on as we breakdown this intriguing matchup, knuckle down style.
Zack: Andrew Moloney is having his rematch with Joshua Franco for that slice of the WBA world title. Obviously, the first fight didn’t go down the way we thought it would go down. You and I did a Knuckle Down on that bout that we both spent quite a bit of time on. It was kind of difficult for us because we weren’t able to see Franco’s third fight against Oscar Negrete or his last fight in his move down to super flyweight. I have to admit I didn’t expect him to improve that much. I didn’t expect him to be that big and strong at the weight and it was kind of hard to get an accurate gauge of how good he was. Now that we’ve seen them in the ring together, we can gauge for ourselves their respective strengths and weaknesses and tactics going forward much more easily because it’s fresh in our minds. What sort of adjustments are you looking to be made from Andrew to try to reverse this decision over Franco?
Anthony: Just going back to their original bout, Andrew fought beautifully in the first half of the fight. He probably won four of the first five rounds there. I thought he probably just needed to change up his attack a little bit more. He’s a great pressure fighter and everything else, but I think he can become a little bit predictable at times. In saying that, I know both of his eardrums were perforated during the fight and that he has had issues with them before, so that wouldn’t have helped.
What I will say about Andrew though is that he had a rematch clause in place that lasts for six months and he enacted it very quickly. He knows he can do better and he was confident of that even in the immediate aftermath of that fight. Once again, if there was ever a time to feel a bit sorry for yourself, it was then. But he was already thinking about the rematch. The confidence of the Moloney twins to be able to match it at the top is phenomenal.
Zack: They’re world class, no doubt. Absolutely no doubt. But also how admirable is Andrew. He never made any excuses and simply said he wanted the rematch. What a sportsman, what a role model. You’ve got to love that attitude, no matter where you are from in the world. I always find it disappointing in any sport when athletes come out with an excuse immediately after a loss. Andrew Moloney is in the same vein of Luke Jackson after he fought Carl Frampton in Belfast when it didn’t go his way. I have not heard one excuse come out of his mouth. You’ve got to love that.
Anthony: It’s certainly an admirable trait to have. Both the Moloney twins have it, they’re not afraid of a challenge and they’re prepared to back up if things don’t go their way. I’m really excited for this rematch. I don’t know if Franco can perform any better than he did in that first fight, but I do get the feeling that Andrew can.
Zack: Okay. I’m expecting Franco to be somewhat better because he’s so young and I guess that with that version of the world title in his hands, it has got to be a huge validation for him. Whatever we say about these titles from the outside looking in, these things matter to these guys getting in the ring and risking their lives. That’s got to be a gamechanger for him confidence wise. I think Andrew was the favourite going in. I tipped him and again as I mentioned earlier, we hadn’t seen Franco’s last couple of fights. I’m expecting a better version of Franco but I’m absolutely expecting a better version of Andrew.
Earlier in the podcast we mentioned that Jason Moloney got better after his loss to Emmanuel Rodriguez and it really turned out to be a blessing in disguise. This could be a similar thing. They’re borderline identical genetically, so we have no scientific reason not to believe that Andrew is going to get better with a renewed hunger and renewed vigour the same way Jason did. Luckily for Andrew he just happens to get his opportunity in his very next fight. He doesn’t have to go away for a whole year or more and wait for that shot. He’s got it, it was contractually there. He’s so brave and such a proud sportsman that he wants to get that back straight away.
To get into the fight itself, I think Andrew is an absolutely sensational inside fighter. This is probably the first matchup in his career where he doesn’t have the edge on the inside. Obviously with Franco being trained by Robert Garcia and coming from a Mexican background, they live and breath on the inside. I’ve been trying to think of ways and things that Andrew can do to make those adjustments for this rematch I think I would prefer to see Andrew stay out of the inside. I’ve heard people who know more about boxing than me that say Andrew might have the best jab in the country. He was using it in abundance early in the first fight. Admittedly, Franco seemed to take a few rounds to get rolling, so I don’t want to overemphasise how well the jab was working when Franco was just not really doing too much early. But I’d love to see that jab working overtime and Andrew try to avoid the inside.
I think in spots too in the first fight – and it’s the thing we love about Andrew – is that he was so aggressive. He’s got such good technique and boxing fundamentals, but man, the guy loves a tear-up. In fact, both the Moloney’s do. They’re great boxers, but they’re fighters at heart and they love it. I think for this fight the best approach for Andrew might be less is more. He landed multiple huge right hands and tonnes of left rips on Franco, but none of them hurt him whatsoever. Franco is a machine. Again, with this path of least resistance mentality, I’m thinking that going after him and landing your best shots didn’t work last time and it gave Franco an opportunity to counter and counter in volume. So I’m thinking if Andrew can just get that jab working, really try not to overcommit and maybe go back to a bit of that amateur style that won him the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. Really get that boxing from the outside going, use the feet to set the angles, don’t get greedy, don’t overcommit. If you land a nice one-two, don’t try to load up on the left hook and kill him. Land the one-two, jump back out and reset to start again. It’s all going to be between the ears for Andrew in this one. How do you see their styles gelling in this rematch?
Anthony: You could be right. Franco throws a tonne of punches himself. You can try to match him for volume or you can try to outdo him with the better quality work. I think Andrew has the skill to beat him for better work. If he has to have a bit of a tear-up with him in spots, that’s fine, but he doesn’t want to get sucked into these high-volume exchanges for too long.
I think you’re probably onto something there in that there’s probably an opportunity for Andrew to box in that more traditional style while still hitting him with hard shots but not going after him and looking for that big knockout and throwing too many punches. Just making sure that when he throws his punches they count and getting out of there and not giving Franco the opportunity to outwork him on the inside.
For the full bite-sized version of the Knuckle Down, check out The Unofficial Scorecard podcast here: