LAS VEGAS – Win, lose or draw Saturday night, Andrew Moloney will spend 18 hours traveling home to Australia early next week.
Once he arrives in Sydney, he’ll have to spend another two weeks quarantined in a hotel to adhere to his country’s COVID-19 protocols. It’ll all be worthwhile if the 29-year-old former champion can return home with the WBA world super flyweight title that he lost to Joshua Franco on June 23 at MGM Grand Conference Center, also the site of their immediate rematch Saturday night.
“That belt means everything to me,” Moloney said during a press conference Wednesday at MGM Grand. “That belt is, you know, the ticket to my son’s future. So, it’s not just for me. This is for him and for his future, and I’m not leaving that ring on Saturday night without it.”
Moloney has spent most of the past five months away from his 15-month-old son, Lee, to try to position himself for the most meaningful fights and biggest paydays within the 115-pound division. Title unification fights against IBF champ Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22 KOs) or the winner of the likely rematch between WBC champ Juan Francisco Estrada (41-3, 28 KOs) and WBA “super” champ Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (50-2, 41 KOs) cannot happen, however, unless Moloney avenges his close, unanimous-decision defeat to San Antonio’s Franco on the Terence Crawford-Kell Brook undercard.
“I’ve gotta provide a future for him and that belt is the ticket to big fights for me,” Moloney told BoxingScene.com following the press conference. “I know that a loss on Saturday night would set me back a long way. I can’t afford for that to happen, and I won’t let that happen. So, Saturday night, I’m fighting for that belt and I’m fighting for his future.”
Moloney (21-1, 14 KOs) was regularly listed as a 9-1 favorite the day before he faced Franco (17-1-2, 8 KOs). A determined Franco recorded an 11th-round knockdown, though, and overcame Moloney on the scorecards of judges Julie Lederman (115-112), Dave Moretti (114-113) and Patricia Morse Jarman (114-113).
“He’s a fighter,” Moloney said. “He comes to fight. He throws a lot of punches, puts on the pressure, and I knew that before the first fight. I knew he was a good fighter. And as I’ve said, I was not at my best in that first fight, and I’ve talked about that a lot. But now I’m looking forward to letting my actions do the talking and to show everyone on Saturday night what I’m all about.”
The Franco-Moloney rematch will be one of three fights ESPN will televise Saturday night, starting at 10 p.m. EST and 7 p.m. PST. Franco is roughly a 2-1 favorite entering their second fight.
“That loss has lit a fire inside of me,” Moloney said. “I’ve never been so determined to do anything in my life. And I’m so grateful to Top Rank for giving me the opportunity to have this rematch, to redeem myself and to get my world title back. And I’ve thought about this fight non-stop for the last five months. And finally, it’s almost here. I’ve done absolutely everything possible over the last five months to make sure I leave that ring with that belt back around my waist on Saturday night. And I can’t wait.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.