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Franco retains WBA title by phantom headbutt

Terence Crawford V Kell Brook
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

WBA super flyweight champion Joshua “El Profesor” Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs) controversially retained his belt against former champion Andrew “The Monster” Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) by no-decision on Saturday night inside “The Bubble” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Moloney started punching non-stop from the opening bell. By round two, Franco’s right eye was closed. It was decided that Franco could not continue in round three. Referee Russell Mora ruled that Franco’s eye was closed by a headbutt. Officials reviewed replay footage for nearly 30 minutes and finally determined that they found the headbutt that caused the swelling. ESPN announcers repeatedly reviewed the same tape and couldn’t find the headbutt.

Andrew Moloney: “They took this away from me. The injury was caused by a punch. I can’t believe this. I was in control of the fight and on my way to a clear victory. I deserved this win. I landed 50 punches on that eye. It was not even close.”

Bob Arum: “This is an absolute disgrace. There was no headbutt. Andrew Moloney should be the new champion.”

Franco’s promoter Oscar de la Hoya (via Twitter): “The effects of the head butt are already there and any punch will just swell it some more.”

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  • Nevada Stare Athletic commission is incompetent and clearly unethical! They should all be fired with cause immediately! Douche Bags!

  • Wow. That was odd. I have no idea why Bob Arum was allowed to be positioned near the review table. I don’t suspect malfeasance, but that was a really bad look for boxing. And I sure as hell never saw a headbutt.

    • Really Bob arum is what you noticed being wrong. Do you work for the nevada athletic commission?

      • No.. and I sure didn’t see a headbutt. But we’ve known for decades boxing judges are totally incompetent. Especially in the US where it feels like boxing judges are a national disgrace. But a promoter has no business being involved in that discussion, and it reeks of impropriety. And again, there is no doubt in my mind that the injury was caused by a punch.

    • Actually, it was Arum and Moloney who were victimized by the absurd decision. Franco belongs to Golden Boy, Moloney to Top Rank. Got it ?

    • I saw numerous people around the table, as they were asking for help(for a cover-up)!! Arum walked over near table about 15minutes to see what the holdup was!! Anybody that fights someone in Oscar’s group needs a knockout to insure a victory!!!

  • Absolute crap! Nevada athletic commission should do the right thing and give moloney the win. There was absolutely no headbutt. Officials just covering each other’s asses! Way to keep making the sport I love such a joke!

  • ABSOLUTE GARBAGE!!!!! Talk about incompetent!!! It took them THIRTY MINUTES to review a three minute wrong and they still got the decision wrong!!! There was NO headbutt it was caused by a jab!! Literally every single person who watched this fight knows the truth, there is no argument. Maloney is the champ, he was robbed.

      • It’s like watching college football refs review a targeting call. The whole world can see one thing and they’ll inevitably see the opposite.

    • Agreed. Garcia was talking gibberish too, mentioned headbutts but then said might have been a thumb yeat he hadnt watch the reply yet

  • UNREAL BULLSHIT!! There was NO headbutt!! Francos team are assholes and milked that lame refs idiotic and blind call. Maloney was lighting up dawgs eye one after another! With crisp powerful PUNCHES!! BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT! Fire that ref and crooked fight analyzing staff!!!

  • Franco beat Franco lol? Vegas runs boxing they robbed Andrew Maloney. No head butt It was power jab after power jab that closed Franco’s eye. Guess this is why more people watch UFC instead of boxing

  • Fuck ESPN. Fuck Top Rank. They must have had some ulterior motive to claim headbutt because there WASN’T one. Ain’t gonna buy the app, ain’t gonna ever pay for Top Rank fight, I’ll just Google the fake results after and watch the real results when someone uploads the fight online.

    • Not sure why you’re blaming ESPN. They all said there was no headbutt (except Tim Bradley called the headbutt before the Ref did). At the end ESPN made the right call. This all falls on NSAC. They should protest with the sanctioning body and the NSAC to have the decision reversed.

    • Are you retarded? I hate ESPN but they clearly showed that there was no headbutt and they completely disagrees with the call.

      You sound dumb.

    • You didn’t even watch the fight. And it wasn’t on ESPN plus it was on regular ESPN, dumbass.

  • Absolutely wrong decision. Judges and replay officials should be ashamed. Worst decision ever!


  • what a joke? how many times have we seen something like this happen in Vegas,bad decisiones now this

  • Enough is enough. Boxing need to be purged of these corrupt POS. It all needs to be purged of old men and women. Boxing is a young man’s sport, inside the ring and outside. 63 year old men like Michael Ortega shouldn’t be referring boxing matches. Also 70+ year old woman like Adalaide Byrd shouldn’t be judging boxing matches with her coke bottle glasses. Her husband Robert Byrd should also be put out to pasture. He’s pushing 80 years old and was a great ref 20 years ago. Now he is an old man who can see or keep up with the speed of a match.

    Boxing isn’t a retirement plan for these old bags. Enough. These people can barely walk up a staircase or read a newspaper, they shouldn’t be judging or referring a sport that moves as fast and is separated by spilt second barely visible moves that YOUNG people miss a lot of the the time. Boxing has a corruption problem but most of all it has a old people problem because spilt second decisions or barely visible grazing punches shouldn’t be made or judged by people who can barely get out of bed in the morning.


    • You got that right Jay,how the hell do these grubby officials justify their positions.We are just lambs to the slaughter

    • Jay, I am a 60 plus year old long distance runner. You couldn’t keep up with me if you tried. The criteria for those jobs should come down to individual capabilities instead of just age. That being said boxing does need to purged of corrupt officials. This was a disgrace…

  • Poor Moloney got robbed. Hard to believe that someone with a much experience as Jay Nady would be part of such a poor call.

    • What!?!? When was the last time you seen Jay Nady ref a main event? Years, because he sucks. And where was he a part of this match? Michael Ortega was the ref and Robert Byrd was the replay official. Nady isn’t even in the building. You are just as blind as Byrd and Ortega. Are you in your 60s or 70s also?

      • Yep, Jay Nady was part of the review committee…Kept touching his head indicating it ws a head butt…

      • Are YOU blind?? Nady was clearly sitting next to Byrd watching the replays. Joe T. even pointed him out.

      • Listen, idiot.

        Michael Ortega wasn’t the ref. Read the f’n article, or go and REREAD IT. make sure to put on your readers. Go watch the fight introductions again. Russell mora was the referee of the fight. Yes, russell mora who has a history of making wrong calls, and who’s up there with Benji Estevez and Lawrence Cole as the worst refs in the sport.

        And Robert byrd was the replay official but Jay Nady came in and was in on the action.

        Robert Garcia was doing what any experienced PAID cornerman would do, defend his fighter and absorb criticism/attention. It’s not an excuse, but they all do it. It’s their competitive nature, and they all want that win. Won’t be the first or last time you’ll see a cornerman in that position .

        How’s that for running your ignorant mouth and insulting people all the while being in the wrong as well?

    • bird and those judges need to get out of boxing / they are bad for the sport

  • I have met MANY super cool, tough folks who proudly hailed from Australia.

    An athletic wrong was committed against a proud, native Australian/USA visitor named Moloney. I hope they allow Moloney to fight Franco one more time.

  • Watched the fight. Watched every second of the replays. There was no head butt – the only head contact was on the opposite side from Franco’s swollen eye. Massive jabs from Maloney. What were the replay officials looking at? What a joke! Obvious conclusions ignored! What were all the phone calls to/from the replay officials anyway? Instructions? Look at the tape and make a ruling. Ridiculous BS. Maloney got ripped off and the Comprizes. Goofs are a bunch of putzes.

  • Robert Garcia should be embarrassed and ashamed of himself. That interview he gave was a joke and lost allmkf my respect. Why even bother doing the interview if you are gonna lie and say shit like “well if the ref seen it’s that’s what it is”. One, if he seen something against your fighter you wouldn’t be saying that and two there is replay for a reason.

    What a joke, I have no respect these people. I’m gonna go watch him get laid out by Ben Tackie to make myself feel better.

    • at the end of the day the only one who truly knows what happened is the victim and he never said a word

  • Question… is the replay etiquette that the refs decision stands unless it can be proven otherwise? Or are the replay guys neutral and make their own call? Because if the replay judges are neutral, there was nothing to show a headbutt. If the “call stands,” maybe just maybe they just didn’t see clear evidence that a punch caused the damage. I’m not trying to give these guys an excuse (I never saw anything resembling a headbutt), but it would at least be a somewhat plausible explanation. Either way, Moloney was well on his way and surely looked the better fighter.

  • Obviously the other promoters don’t umm how to say….help the ref and judges with their retirements as well as Oscar Del a Hoya does. Lots of his fighters get results like this.

  • Oscar shows his lack of credibility by making these ridiculous comments. Oscar must be thinking about those fishnet panties he used to prance around in.

  • Congrats to Bud Crawford on a solid win but the real loser tonight was boxing. For potential fans tuning in to witness the stench left by Chairman Bob Bennett and his posse of clowns at the NSAC, it has to be a real turnoff. It must be remembered that these are the same idiots who sanctioned Floyd Mayweather against a UFC fighter who had never had a professional boxing match. When it comes to the NSAC, they just care about how much money a bout can bring to the area. Other than that, like tonight, they just cover their butts with no respect for the boxers. Total disgrace.

  • Moloney was well on his way to a thorough thrashing of Franco. Franco has a tendency to just cover up without punching when under attack. He just didn’t have any answers to the combinations that were coming his way and was on defense until the fight was stopped. Franco looked totally at a loss and Moloney was just superb.

    After all the replays showing no headbutt, the Nevada Commission still didn’t do the right thing and give Moloney his well-deserved TKO victory. Shame on them.

    They’ll probably schedule a rematch at some point. However, based on what I saw in the abbreviated fight, Moloney has Franco figured out and I just don’t see Franco beating him in the future.

  • I agree with Moloney. This was caused by a punch, not a head butt. Not surprising that Oscar De La Hoya is the promoter for Franco, and influenced this horrid result. De La Hoya epitomizes such shadiness. We saw that with Canelo, when GGG was robbed in both fights.

  • It got to the point where I started feeling bad for the ref Russell Mora. Yes he made the wrong call, but why didn’t Byrd/Nady/Bennett help him out sooner? Whole thing – replay, broadcasters, officials – a complete sham.

  • Clearly they were on the phone too dela hoya.. golden boy fix… aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi

  • Yeah, the Nevada State Athletic Commision’s ineptness was once again on full display, and I hate to say it, but another Byrd was directly involved. Robert Byrd was assigned by the commission as the replay official which in itself should be a conflict of interest due to his relationship with fellow peer and referee Sergio Mora. Byrd’s aloofness and inaction during the ‘review’ of the tape just proves that matters such as replay responsibilities last night should NOT be assingned to incompetents. His scope of analysis and accumin is clearly limited to the task of refereeing. He sat at that review table with some sort of whimsical ‘whose on first?’ demeanor that spoke volumes. Not at one time did I see him take the lead as THE replay official and intensely study that monitor in front of him and turn to that stiff to his left and say “this is what I CLEARLY see. Instead, Byrd is shrugging his shoulders, throwing his hands up, folding his arms and so forth as if to say ‘its not my call.’ What a complete and utter failure Nevada and Robert…

  • Moloney was clearly robbed, ESPN replay clearly shown the swelling was directly from a hard left jab to Franco’s right eye. Couldn’t believe it took them over 30 plus minutes to come to a decision then to totally get it wrong. The reply official in this case was totally rigged against Moloney. They must have milked the time so to get in as many commercials in as possible as over an hour past before that fight and the Crawford fight.

    • I thought the fix was in after Franco walking back to his corner near ref. ,Taps the back of his head, then. Ref goes to the side and says accidental headbutt, rewatch the video and you will see it!!!

      • Right after referee said due to headbutt both Maloney brothers knew what was happening The monster started to say but to no avail that it was a punch! Robert Byrd being voice of reason here damn! He is still the referee in the funniest fight I have ever seen picked up a fighter dusted his gloves off three knockdowns he called slips even at the end of the fight was still unclear who was getting the decision he just raised the guy who clearly lost hand! I have to find this one to see again

  • Russell Mora is the worst ref ever , got scared when i saw he was reffin the fight. Didnt let me down that guy is a plague !

  • Crooked DeLaHoya bought another “victory” for one of his fighters. He’s a real piece of shit.

    • I wondered why Triple GGG agreed to a rematch, as the only way he could get a win over Oscar’s boy was with a knockout!!

  • It don’t take a genius to see if a head butt has taken place, and I watched it over and over and not spotted one yet. So the obvious truth is, you can’t trust the NSAC in a shithouse with a muzzle on. I’ve told myself several times to never watch a scrap from LV ever again, and this time I think I mean it. There’s usually gonna be a theft take place. Last night was the most blatant theft I’ve seen in many moons. I don’t think there wasn’t a head butt in the whole fight, much less in the first round. Simple bullshit theft, that’s all it was.

  • Another pathetic performance by the boxing powers. Clearly the eye was closed from repeated jabs to the right eye. We got to see the entire round again, sections of the round, slow motion looks and still NO HEADBUTT! How in the hell can the Nevada Commission allow this to stand? Boxing will continue to decline due to incompetence in its judges, refs and officials. It’s a damn shame.

  • Of course Franco won, in Oscar de laHoya’s group, don’t expect honest results, look what happened to Triple GGG !!!

  • The Nevada has been and still is the most crooked in the US! Their judges and most ref’s are bad. The ref in that fight let alone one of the worst in the biz Robert Byrd along with Bob Bennett couldn’t see what the 3 commentators and the rest of us saw? Moloney should have won his title back and may not get a rematch but if he does it should not be in NV but maybe in Australia!

  • Watched all the replays and agree with the article. There was no headbutt. Maloney landed many hard accurate jabs to Franco’s eye. I get disheartened with boxing when this happens, can’t think of any way that the Navada Commission can justify the decission. I have lost confidence in the ability of the Nevada Commission to make a fair assessment. I believe it was a tribal decision not to put a reff on their commission in a bad light. Feeling sorry for Maloney who put his body on the line, fought flawlessly, totally out boxing his opponent , only to be robbed of a TKO victory.

  • Literally the worst decision I’ve seen after watching boxing for over 40 years. Most bad decisions can be excused because a judge is watching a fight live and they get the scoring wrong… But in this example there is no excuse – they had video with multiple camera angles. They had slow motion. They reviewed a 3-minute round for over 20 minutes and still got it wrong. How is that possible? Even Oscar eventually admitted on Twitter that there was no head butt (and he promotes Franco).

    It’s a mind boggling decision.

  • Oscar De La Hoya you are a bloody criminal , just as a very quiet WBA seem to be. This result is disgraceful and casts a shadow on all the boxing organizations ,bribery afoot?

  • I want to know what teddy atlas thinks.this is one of the most aggregious decisions I have seen even with instant replay.ref admit you where wrong

  • Oscar de lahoya!! Theres exactly the reason why this happened! He dont let his fighters lose, no matter what. Disgusting!! I feel real bad for Maloney. It WASNT even close!!!

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