Efforts by Andrew Moloney and his legal team for swift and resolute justice have so far been met with resistance.
The outcome of Moloney’s recent rematch with lone conqueror Joshua Franco on November 14 has been officially appealed by his team, formally protesting the No-Decision verdict that came of their ESPN-televised contest at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The bout ended prior to the start of round three, when it was determined that San Antonio’s Franco was unable to continue due to a swollen shut right eye.
Moloney’s in-ring celebration was an organic reaction to the belief that he avenged his lone career defeat, when Franco claimed a 12-round decision and a secondary junior bantamweight title on June 23 in the very same venue. That moment was quickly disrupted upon learning that referee Russell Mora determined that the injury was caused by a headbutt.
Extensive replay strongly suggested that a Moloney left jab in the opening round initiated the damage, although a review process which took more than 26:00 minutes ultimately resulted with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) honoring the in-ring ruling. As such, Franco (17-1-2, 8KOs; 1NC) left the ring—and the room entirely—with his title still intact, while Moloney (21-1, 14KOs; 1NC) will have to wait for a third fight in order to reclaim the title that should have come from the aftermath of their rematch.
From there has come contact between the commission and Moloney’s legal team, which as previously reported by BoxingScene.com is headed by renowned boxing attorney Josh Dubin. Hopes of having the matter appear on the next NSAC monthly agenda hearing—currently scheduled for December 2—was instead met with the insistence that the matter will have to wait until the first quarter of 2021.
More troubling is the suggestion that the Nevada Attorney General’s Office (NVAGO) claims the matter to be officially under review, which contradicts state law.
“Andrew Moloney has a right to a hearing under Section 467.682(1) [of the Nevada Athletic Commission rules], which directs that the referee’s decision(s) declaring fouls during a bout may be overturned after a hearing before the Commission,” Dubin told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday after having received the news from Nevada AG Mike Detmer. “The referee's decision to declare an accidental headbutt has received international media attention. Needless to say, it is critical that this process is transparent and that Mr. Moloney is afforded the due process to which he is entitled consistent with Nevada law.
“Any review that is currently taking place, prior to a hearing, is improper and premature. We are in the process of obtaining additional camera angles from ESPN that will play a critical role (at a hearing) in demonstrating that in fact no headbutt of any kind occurred during the bout. Any analysis of the bout without the benefit of those additional camera angles and my advocacy on behalf of Mr. Moloney defeats the purpose of conducting a hearing.”
The appeal filed by Team Moloney was acknowledged both by Bob Bennett, executive director of the NSAC, and the state’s Attorney General’s Office. The suggestion from Mr. Detmer was that the matter would not be heard before the commission’s five-person panel any earlier than the NSAC agenda hearing in January, if not February. It was alleged that no such room existed on the December docket, which currently only has a handful of requests for state venue usage by the UFC, along with temporary suspension reviews for a total of 10 combat sports athletes.
Among those whose cases are budgeted to be heard is disgraced former heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller, who remains suspended after having tested positive for a banned substance this past June. Miller’s case has appeared on new fewer than four monthly agenda hearing budgets, with each previous occasion merely resulting in an extension of his current suspension while the review process continues.
The remaining items—all of which cover athletes currently awaiting disciplinary action for having submitted positive drug tests surrounding bouts which have taken place in Las Vegas—are normally ruled upon in no more than three minutes per case.
The purpose of scheduling a case such as the one Moloney has filed would be to begin the official review process as soon as possible. In addition to the official appeal, Moloney’s legal team plans to provide video evidence to visually support their case.
For the commission to claim that the review process has begun without any such evidence or even a hearing to authorize such steps is in violation of their very laws in place.
“I thought it was a strange e-mail to get,” Dubin said of his exchange with the NVAGO. “Even stranger was the message contained within. This kid [Moloney] is sitting in quarantine in Australia (which requires mandatory two-way 14-day isolation when traveling to and from the country). He’s basically locked in a room. He’s sacrificed so much, yet the commission in a very cavalier way is saying, ‘Oh, we’ll see if we can get to it in January or February.
“The cavalier way in which they’re approaching this should be infuriating to the public, as much as it is to me and to Andrew.”
A misrepresentation by the NVAGO suggested that Moloney’s team is seeking an emergency meeting, which they in turn rejected in claiming it does not constitute such a process under Chapter 241.020 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) covering meetings of state and local agencies.
It has also been suggested that such a delay is necessary due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—which has forced state officials to meet monthly via conference call in lieu of in-person gatherings at state headquarters in Las Vegas—and the timing of the appeal.
Given the season, it’s fair to argue that the move is little more than political football.
“There’s no reason for this case to not be heard at the next meeting,” insists Dubin. “This whole issue over whether or not it’s doable due to COVID—as I’ve pointed out to (Attorney Detmer), I’ve been conducting court hearings and arguments, and video is not a problem to show over Zoom or any other conference call.
“They have an opportunity here to just admit that they made a mistake. Why they’re not doing that here, I don’t know. But I won’t let Andrew get screwed any more so than has already been the case.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox