News broke last month that super flyweight rivals Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney would meet in an August 14th trilogy match in Tulsa, and now Top Rank has officially revealed both the fight and its supporting cast.
Franco (17-1-2, 8 KO) presently sites at 1-0-1 in the series, having decisively upset Moloney (21-1, 14 KO) for the WBA “world” title in June of last year and retained the title on a controversial no contest several months later. Said no contest, caused by swelling to Franco’s eye that seemed to be the product of punches but which notoriously incompetent referee Russell Mora blamed on a headbutt, prompted the WBA to order an immediate rematch.
“I’m very excited for this third fight with Moloney. I’ve been preparing very well for this fight, and I’m feeling stronger than ever,” Franco said. “I hope everybody tunes in come fight night because it’s going to be one to remember. I will remind Moloney why I’m the champ. And still!”
Moloney said, “I’ve had to wait nine months to once again fight for what should have been mine back in November. There is no way I’ll be leaving that ring without my world title this time.
I’m sure when he looks at himself in the mirror, he knows deep down he’s not the real champion. He knows there was no head clash. I’ve stayed in the gym and used this time to improve as a fighter. He is up against an even better fighter than he was the last time around. He’s in trouble.”
In the co-feature, rising super lightweight Arnold Barboza Jr. (25-0, 10 KO) makes his first appearance of 2021 against Mexico’s Antonio Moran (26-4-1, 19 KO). Barboza got off the canvas to beat Alex Saucedo in his most recent effort, which proved one of his most entertaining to date, and presently sits in both the WBC and WBO top fives. You may recall Moran from his highlight-reel knockout loss to Devin Haney, but he’s done pretty well for himself since, most notably fighting unbeaten Yomar Alamo to a draw.
Barboza said, “I’ve been in the gym since the Saucedo fight, and I’m looking forward to this one. He’s a tough, experienced fighter, and we’re looking to put on a good show. I don’t pay too much attention to the rankings. I always train like it’s a world title fight, and I expect Moran to give a great effort.”
The ESPN broadcast opens with the professional debut of Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of Muhammad Ali,
Over on the undercard, Andrew’s brother Jason Moloney (21-2, 18 KO) faces Joshua Greer Jr. (22-2-2, 12 KO) in a battle of rebuilding bantamweights. Moloney fights for the first time since a destructive loss to Naoya Inoue, while Greer will look to snap a two-fight winless streak that’s seen him upset by Mike Plania and forced to a draw against Edwin Rodriguez.
Jason Moloney said, “I’m excited to finally be back after what will be nearly 10 months out of the ring. After the disappointment with Inoue, I went straight back into the gym, and I’ve been working extremely hard.
I learned a lot from that fight, and it has pushed me and motivated me to improve and reach another level. This is a must-win fight for both myself and Greer, but this is my road back to a world title, and no one will stop me from achieving my dream of becoming champion of the world.”
Greer said, “I’m dialed in and having a great camp in Las Vegas. My trainer, Kay Koroma, has added a lot to my game. No stone will be left unturned.
Jason Moloney is another top contender, and at this level, you need other good fighters to bring the best out of you. I’m ready to mix it up with him on August 14. I’m thankful to Top Rank, James Prince, and Antonio Leonard for this opportunity.”
Karlos Balderas (9-1, 8 KO), Trey Lippe Morrison (17-0, 17 KO), and Jeremiah Milton all face TBA.
The card is presently slated to go head-to-head with Vergil Ortiz Jr. vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas on DAZN and John Riel Casimero vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux on Showtime.