Joshua Franco may still be a bantamweight titleholder, but he is far from a being a happy camper.
Franco retained his bantamweight title in a rematch against Aussie Andrew Moloney last Saturday night at the MGM Grand Conference Arena on the Terence Crawford-Kell Brook undercard – but on controversial terms. The bout was deemed a no-contest after the Nevada State Athletic Commission and referee Russell Mora declared – upon a drawn-out, shambolic “instant” review process that would have tried the patience of a Benedictine monk – that Franco, with his right eye swollen shut, could no longer continue after the second round on account of a Moloney headbutt. Moloney protested, claiming it was a jab that caused the eye to swell.
Moloney and Co., no doubt, left with a bad taste in their mouths, but Robert Garcia, the trainer of Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs, 1 NC), insists that his side is far from satisfied with the verdict and would like nothing more than to pursue a third rematch.
“We will give him the third fight,” Garcia said unequivocally on the latest episode of the PBC Podcast. “I know Moloney and his team, they’re not happy and neither are we. So, yeah, we are still the champions but that’s not the ending we wanted.”
“So Franco isn’t happy either, he added. “We are not happy.”
Garcia admitted that the first two rounds were clearly won by Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC), but that the game plan for Franco was to take over the fight in the later rounds. Last June, Franco, a Golden Boy promoted fighter, upset then titleholder Moloney, dropping the Australian in the 11th round en route to a unanimous decision win.
“For Franco, he clearly won the first fight and put a beating on the kid,” Garcia said. “Just like in this fight, Franco lost the first two or three rounds of the fight. Franco is very cautious and feeling around his opponent. Moloney won the first two rounds of this fight but the plan was to break him down little by little. I think in this fight we were 100% sure that Franco was going to stop him late in the fight. So that was the plan.”
The no-contest verdict rankled many observers and prompted cri de coeurs from prominent non-boxing figures such as podcaster Joe Rogan and actress Helen Mirren. Top Rank head Bob Arum, who promotes Moloney, was apoplectic after the bout, threatening to never promote another show again in Las Vegas.
Garcia says a third fight needs to happen, if only to wipe up all the bad blood.
“Even though I didn’t hear him, my son told me there were a couple of interviews where Moloney said ‘if I win I’m not going to give (Franco) a third fight.’ Well, you know, we will give him a third fight because we’re not happy either,” Garcia said. “And I know (Moloney is) not happy, his fans aren’t happy, his team are not happy, Top Rank is not happy, so we will give him a third fight. There’s no question about that.”