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  High Drama In "The Bubble":
Franco Snags Moloney’s World Title

By William Trillo
Photos: Mikey Williams - Top Rank


Joshua Franco (17-1-2, 8 KO’s) destroyed all the plans of Super Flyweight Champion Andrew Moloney (21-1, 14 KO’s) when he systematically broke down the champ and walked out of “The Bubble” with the World Boxing Association World Super Flyweight Title around his waist.

It was as good a battle as could be as each warrior had their moments. In the early portion of the fight it was Moloney who was taking the slight edge with sharper more accurate punches . Franco for his part seemed content to survey the situation.

As the rounds hit the midway point Franco became much more comfortable in the pocket and he began to do damage that would begin to change the entire flow of the night. Bloodied in the tenth and down in the eleventh Moloney was now in danger of losing his title. It was a good twelfth round for both fighters, but it wasn’t clear if Moloney did enough to retain his belt. The barnburner would end up going to the scorecards.

The announcer revealed the tally’s, “115-112, 114-113 & 114-113 for the winner…and the new world champion, Joshua Franco!

On losing the fight and his title Moloney remarked, “It just wasn’t my night tonight. This was not the best version of Andrew Moloney, but full credit to Joshua Franco. He deserved to win the title with his effort. He closed the fight strong, like a true champion. I’ll be back. One loss won’t define me.”

On becoming the champ Franco said, “After the fourth round, I gained the momentum and figured him out. I always knew this was possible. I wasn’t nervous when the decision was being read. I knew I’d done enough to win this fight. My coach, Robert Garcia, had me ready. I’m going home with the belt.”

The Freddie Roach trained Featherweight Christopher Diaz (26-2, 16 KO’s) was 100% in the zone against a highly regarded Jason Sanchez (15-2, 8 KO’s). Diaz could do no wrong in this ten rounder, he looked comfortable in the ring and was genuinely having fun with this very impressive performance.

There was little or nothing Sanchez could do that Diaz did not react to and capitalize on. Stiff jabs, stellar counter-punching and wicked combinations gave Diaz the victory scoring a unanimous decision with scores of 9-93 and 98-92 twice.

“I can fight at featherweight, or I can make 122 pounds. Whatever Top Rank wants, but I’m ready for a big fight in either weight division. I am a completely different and improved fighter from the one who fought Shakur Stevenson last year. I worked on my power in the gym. My coaches, Nelson Rodriguez and Freddie Roach, got me ready for tonight. I’m ready for a big fight now. Whether it’s at 126 or 122, I’m ready. This is a new Christopher Diaz.”

It was a battle of young, tough and undefeated Super Lightweights and this six rounder did not disappoint. Overall it was Miguel Contreras (11- 0, 6 KO’s) who was the proverbial cream that rose to the top. Rolando Vargas (5-1, 5 KO’s) is a gifted fighter but with half the fights of Contreas it was a case of biting of taking on too much too soon.

Contreras bloodied the face of Vargas early while using good combination punching throughout the fight. Vargas would switch to southpaw at times but was never able to solve the problems he was facing. It was close but, in the end all three judges scored the fight for Contreras 58-56 across the board.

In the opening bout of the night Heavyweight Helaman Olguin (8-3, 3 KO’s) took on an undefeated Adam Stewart (8-1-1, 5 KO’s) in this round scrap. Olguin may not have the body of Adonis but he did seem to have the better boxing skills. Stewart had the look of a chiseled athlete but lacked the fundamentals.

It went unnoticed on the broadcast that Olguin hurt his right hand in the early rounds and was basically a one-handed fighter for three rounds. Even with the busted wing Olguin did enough to impress the judges and earn a split decision. Final scores read 57-57 and 58-56 twice in favor of Olguin.


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