‘I wanted this so bad’: Aussie leaves rival bloodied
AUSSIE boxer Jason Moloney overcame tremendous pressure to score a resounding TKO win in his Las Vegas headliner - with Mexican rival Leonardo Baez eventually quitting on his stool.
Only 48 hours after watching twin brother Andrew lose his WBA Super Flyweight title, the 29-year-old scored a comprehensive win against Baez at the MGM Grand Casino.
Despite concerns his sibling's shock loss may have impacted him mentally, the Aussie bantamweight instead produced one of his most emphatic fights in a performance that saw Baez quit after the seventh round.
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"I just wanted this so bad," Moloney said afterwards.
"This is the best moment of my career.
"This makes all the sacrifices and all the hard work worthwhile. This is a big, big step towards me fighting for another world title.
"And I want that belt so bad."
The win is Moloney's fourth straight since suffering the only defeat of his career 18 months ago - a contentious split decision loss against Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF bantamweight title.
Interviewed midway through the fight, Andrew - who carried the Australian flag for his sibling's walk to the ring - admitted to feeling "guilty" given how his loss had placed extra "pressure" on the brother born just 60 seconds before him.
Yet if the loss had impacted Jason, he certainly didn't show.
Like his twin brother had, Moloney started the Las Vegas headliner the stronger fighter, winning at least four of the opening five rounds, thanks largely with strong work to the body of Baez.
Yet where Andrew faded, Jason stayed strong - with blood streaming from the face of Mexican by the seventh, when he was also doubled over by a vicious left rip to the body.
So badly was Baez hurt, he would not come out for the eighth.
The 'crucial' blow that ended Aussie champ's reign
Australia is once again without any world boxing champion after a courageous Andrew Moloney lost his WBA Super Flyweight title against American Joshua Franco in Las Vegas.
Arriving for his US debut on an unbeaten run of 21 wins, Moloney was cut, dropped, had both ears perforated and was eventually beaten by the aggressive Texan, who earned a narrow points decision victory (115-112, 114-113, 114-113) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Despite dominating early, 29-year-old Moloney was cut over his left eye in the 10th round, then dropped by Franco in the 11th - a moment which effectively proved the difference with two judges.
While the Aussie was not actually put to the canvas by Franco's flurry of punches, which included two big left hands, his golden-coloured gloves did both touch as he was doubled over, which constitutes a knock down.
Still, the Kingscliff puncher bravely hung in until the finish and still believed he had done enough, raising his gloves after the final bell.
However after five weeks living in Las Vegas to prepare for the fight alongside twin brother Jason, who headlines his own card Friday (AEST), Moloney lost the gold strap by the narrowest of margins.
The fighter was afterwards transported to a Las Vegas hospital where it was determined he had perforated both ear drums during the fight.
Keep your head high @AndrewMoloney . You will be back to fight another day and your future is still very bright. Most will never know the difficulties fighting away from home for the big fights and you were gallant in defeat. Get back on the horse 🥊— Lucas Browne (@lucasBrowne) June 24, 2020
Great effort tonight @AndrewMoloney you will be back mate— Boxing Kingdom (@BoxingKingdom14) June 24, 2020
Asked afterwards about the left hands that technically dropped Moloney, and saw referee Tony Weeks give the champ a standing count, Franco said: "It was crucial, I needed that.
"But I could also feel little by little that I was taking him down.
"I could hear him making noises. I could feel I was getting to him.
"I worked hard for this and I knew that hard work would pay off."
After winning the world title against Guyana's Elton Dharry last November, Moloney was hoping to make an immediate impact with US fight fans.
Walking out to the AC/DC classic Thunderstruck, and with an Australian flag draped over his shoulders, the father-of-one also hoped a first title defence would solidify his tag as the fresh new face of Aussie boxing.
Yet despite proving strong over the opening four rounds, the champ was increasingly bettered by a Texan keen to land heavy shots, especially through rounds eight, nine, 10 and 11.
"But I'll be back," said Moloney, who was aiming for a big money October fight with WBA super champion Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez. "One loss won't define me."
Elsewhere, the defeat also proved a tough one to watch for brother Jason, who had accompanied his twin to the ring and watched the headliner among those handful of officials and staff allowed inside an otherwise locked venue.
A bantamweight ranked No.2 in the world, Jason will headline his own card against Mexican Leonardo Baez this Friday at the same venue.