Moloney Brothers Headline June 23 & June 25 Top Rank Shows; Plus, Berchelt Is Back
From Australia to the MGM Grand: Identical Twins Andrew & Jason Moloney Set For Las Vegas Debuts Inside The Bubble
The Moloney Brothers to headline June 23 and June 25 shows from MGM Grand
WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt to return in lightweight bout against Eleazar Valenzuela June 27 at TV Azteca Studios in Mexico City
All three shows to air LIVE on ESPN & ESPN Deportes
LAS VEGAS (June 16, 2020) — From Down Under to “The Bubble,” Australia’s Moloney twins — Andrew and Jason — are set for their Las Vegas debuts.
Andrew “The Monster” Moloney will make the first defense of his WBA super flyweight world title Tuesday, June 23 from the MGM Grand Conference Center—Grand Ballroom against Joshua “El Professor” Franco (ESPN & ESPN Deportes, 8 p.m. ET). Moloney-Franco will be the first men’s boxing world title bout since February 29.
The fights continue from the MGM Grand Thursday, June 25, when WBO No. 2 bantamweight contender Jason Moloney will face Leonardo Baez in a 10-rounder (ESPN & ESPN Deportes, 8 p.m. ET).
Week 3 of the Top Rank on ESPN summer series concludes from TV Azteca Studios in Mexico City on Saturday, June 27, when WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel “El Alacran” Berchelt will face Eleazar “Tronco” Valenzuela in a 10-round lightweight bout (ESPN & ESPN Deportes, 11 p.m. ET).
“It’s very exciting times as Australia's only world champion, Andrew Moloney, will defend his title against a tough warrior in Joshua Franco,” said Tony Tolj, who manages the Moloney brothers. “Jason has trained hard and is ready for world championship opportunities. Both are in tough fights that the fans are going to love. We want to fight the best. It's a great honor to headline back-to-back shows, especially at MGM Grand.”
MGM Grand Conference Center – Grand Ballroom
Andrew Moloney (21-0, 14 KOs) vs. Joshua Franco (16-1-2, 8 KOs)
12 Rounds, Moloney’s WBA Super Flyweight World Title
Andrew Moloney has won four consecutive bouts by knockout, including an eighth-round stoppage over Miguel Gonzalez on Gonzalez’s home turf in Chile. He captured the WBA interim world title last November, stopping Elton Dharry.
The WBA elevated Moloney to full champion in March, and he will defend his strap against Franco, a San Antonio native who is best known for his action-packed trilogy against Oscar Negrete. Franco, who has gone five bouts since his lone professional defeat, went 1-0-2 versus Negrete.
“It’s a dream come true for me to be headlining at the MGM Grand for my first world title defense,” Andrew Moloney said. “Thank you to Top Rank and my team for giving me this amazing opportunity. Franco is a great fighter, but I believe I am faster, more powerful, and too hungry to let anyone take this belt away from me.”
Said Franco: “I have been waiting all my life to fight for a world title. I know that all my hard work will pay off when I step into the ring and become a world champion. These are tough times for the world, so I’m grateful to have this opportunity when the world has come to a halt. I will do my best to entertain the fans during this time and make my training team, promoter and everyone in San Antonio proud. This June 23, class will be in session, and everyone’s invited to watch on ESPN.”
Christopher Diaz (25-2, 16 KOs) vs. Jason Sanchez (15-1, 8 KOs)
10 Rounds, Featherweight
In a clash of former world title challengers, the winner will re-enter the world title picture. Diaz is 2-1 since a decision loss to Masayuki Ito for the vacant WBO junior lightweight world title.
Following the Ito loss, Diaz moved down in weight to compete as a featherweight. Sanchez gave a valiant effort in a June 2019 decision loss to then-WBO featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez. The Albuquerque native rebounded with a knockout win over Adeilson Dos Santos last October.
“I know that winning this next fight opens the door to a world title shot, and I have worked hard to make it happen and finally achieve my dream of becoming a world champion,” Diaz said. “Jason Sanchez is a world-level opponent. His only defeat is against Oscar Valdez — and he is a seasoned Mexican warrior — but I am coming prepared for everything Sanchez will bring to the ring.”
Joseph “Blessed Hands” Adorno (14-0-1, 12 KOs), who is coming off an eight-round draw in January, will look to get back to his winning ways against Alexis del Bosque (17-5, 9 KOs) in an eight-rounder at lightweight.
In a junior welterweight battle set for six rounds, Miguel Contreras (10-0, 6 KOs), from Bakersfield, California, will fight 20-year-old knockout artist Rolando Vargas (5-0, 5 KOs).
Helaman Olguin (7-3, 3 KOs), winner of five straight, will take on Adam Stewart (8-0-1, 5 KOs) in a six-rounder at heavyweight.
MGM Grand Conference Center – Grand Ballroom
Jason Moloney (20-1, 17 KOs) vs. Leonardo Baez (18-2, 9 KOs)
10 Rounds, Bantamweight
Jason Moloney came up a hair short in his bid for the IBF bantamweight world title in October 2018, losing a disputed split decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez. He has knocked out three opponents since, most recently blitzing Dixon Flores in two rounds on the same card as his brother’s victory over Elton Dharry. Baez, from Mexicali, Mexico, has won six in a row, most recently shutting out former interim world champion Moises Flores over eight rounds.
“My opponent, Leonardo Baez, is a good fighter who comes forward and puts on a lot of pressure,” Jason Moloney said. “I have been working extremely hard to make sure this is the most spectacular performance of my career and to prove that I am ready for another shot at a world title.”
Said Baez: “I’m very happy for this opportunity. I had already been training, so that’s why I’m ready to come back. I’m confident in my preparation. I know I will walk away with my hand raised.” Watch Baez in action here.
Abraham Nova (18-0, 14 KOs) vs. Avery Sparrow (10-1, 3 KOs)
10 Rounds, Junior Lightweight
Nova made his Top Rank debut in January, registering a fourth-round knockout. He returns for his “Bubble” debut against Sparrow, a battle-hardened Philadelphia native who is coming off a March 2019 decision victory over former world title challenger Hank Lundy. Nova, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Albany, New York, was one of Teofimo Lopez’s chief sparring partners before Lopez’s lightweight title-winning effort over Richard Commey last December. He lacks no confidence, read this story, and hear what he says about Gervonta Davis.
Orlando “El Zurdo de Oro” González (14-0, 10 KOs), from Aguadilla Puerto Rico, will face off against Ecuadorian veteran Luis Porozo (15-2, 8 KOs) in an eight-rounder at junior lightweight. A southpaw puncher, Gonzalez has registered three knockouts in his last four fights.
TV Azteca Studios
Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) vs. Eleazar Valenzuela (21-13-4, 16 KOs)
Berchelt, the long-reigning WBC super featherweight kingpin, will return in his first non-title bout since 2015.
A native of Cancun, Mexico, he has notched five consecutive knockouts, including a devastating fourth-round stoppage over former world champion Jason Sosa in his last outing. Valenzuela is 8-3 with one no contest in his last 12 bouts.
Omar “Pollo” Aguilar (17-0, 16 KOs), a 21-year-old punching prodigy from Ensenada, Mexico, will fight Dante “Crazy” Jardon (32-6, 23 KOs) in a 10-rounder at junior welterweight.
In a 10-round junior lightweight bout, Mauricio “Bronco” Lara (18-2, 12 KOs) will fight unbeaten Tijuana native Humberto Galindo (12-0-1, 9 KOs).
Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza (14-0, 12 KOs) will look to extend his knockout streak to eight in an eight-round featherweight battle against Luis Guzman (8-14, 1 KO).
Junior welterweight prospect Ruben “Pollito” Aguilar (9-0, 7 KOs), who has five consecutive first-round knockouts, will fight Emanuel Herrera (7-10, 1 KO) in a six-rounder.
Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson.
The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999.
Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.