Two-weight champion turned analyst Timothy Bradley feels Joshua Franco can pip old rival Andrew Moloney on the cards in their trilogy fight at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa on Saturday night.
WBA Regular super-flyweight champion Franco appeared highly fortunate to escape with his belt last November when ringside officials deemed his swollen right eye was the result of a phantom headbutt and not the blows of a dominant Moloney.
After a farcical 26-minute deliberation at ringside, the bout was controversially called a ‘No Decision’ by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, rather than a two-round stoppage win for Moloney. The WBA subsequently ordered a third fight between the duo inside the space of 14 months.
Australian Moloney is widely favoured to put the record straight tomorrow, with BetFred pegging him as a 4/9 favourite and Texan Franco the outsider at 7/4. But Bradley believes Franco’s near brush with defeat last time will deliver a much-improved performance, akin to the one he displayed in outhustling Moloney to originally claim the WBA secondary belt (W12) in June 2020.
“If Franco is where he was last June , physically, mentally and emotionally, then I think we could see this fight looking more like the first fight. Franco has to weather the storm early and hope he can pick his spots and dominate the second half as the tide turns,” Bradley told ESPN.com.
“This is a toss-up, I think this is a 50/50. I think that both guys have what it takes to win this fight. It’s really going to boil down to those mindsets, and who is able to make the proper adjustments at the right time during the course of the fight.
“Old habits are hard to break, and weaknesses become more pronounced under pressure. Franco has the mental edge after brutally punishing Moloney in the first fight, and then escaping with the title intact after the phantom headbutt. With the opportunity to refocus himself, I slightly favour him to come out of this third clash with the deciding win by the narrowest of margins in a 12-round split decision.”
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.