Joshua Franco Defeats Andrew Moloney to Retain Secondary WBA Title

Joshua Franco is keeping his title…

The 25-year-old Latino boxer has settled the score with Andrew Moloney, capping a rivalry that climaxed with a controversial finish in November and ended at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday with a decisive victory in the ESPN main event.

Joshua Franco

Franco, nicknamed “El Profesor,” retained his secondary WBA title at 115 pounds with a unanimous decision over Moloney. All three judges scored the fight 116-112.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is the recognized champion at junior bantamweight.

Earlier this week, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza announced his intentions to clean up the plentiful secondary titles that have muddied the championship picture. But with the win, Franco figures to earn a shot at one of the “big four” at 115 pounds in the near future, a stacked division headlined by Juan Francisco Estrada, Gonzalez, Kazuto Ioka and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

“I see bigger fights. I see Chocolatito, Gallo Estrada, Ioka,” said Franco, ESPN’s No. 6 boxer at 115 pounds. “For sure, this win puts me top five, on the same list as the other champions. I needed this fight to prove myself.”

Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) consistently beat Moloney to the punch and landed the cleaner, harder shots. The bout featured plenty of inside fighting, but it was always Franco who was able to push Moloney back in those exchanges.

Despite being just 25 years old, Franco has now been a part of two boxing trilogies. He fought Oscar Negrete three consecutive times in 2018 and 2019, with a win sandwiched between two draws. Saturday’s victory over Moloney came in a third meeting.

Franco scored a unanimous decision win over Moloney (ESPN’s No. 7 115-pounder) in June 2020, when an 11th-round knockdown was the difference-maker.

In the November rematch, Moloney closed Franco’s right eye before the ringside doctor stopped the fight in Round 2.

Believing he had just exacted revenge, Moloney (21-2, 14 KOs) jumped onto the turnbuckle to celebrate. Instead, he was met by the feeling he was robbed of his biggest victory to date. Referee Russell Mora curiously ruled that the swelling was the result of an accidental clash of heads, and the fight was deemed a no-contest even after instant replay was consulted for more than 25 minutes. In reality, it was Moloney’s punches — 51 connected in just two rounds. (Franco landed 18.)

“That eye was closed by 50 jabs,” Moloney said in November. “That’s why his eye is shut — not the head-butt. There’s no head-butt. I can’t believe they took this away from me. I’ve trained my ass off for the last five months, been away from my family, and they just take it away from me. I can’t believe they didn’t give it to me. That’s why they have instant replay working right now.”

This time, instant replay did its job. Referee Jack Reiss called a knockdown in Saturday’s Round 7 after Franco fell to the canvas, but after the sequence was reviewed, the ruling was reversed.

“The call wasn’t right; I knew that I slipped,” Franco said. “When he told me they’d go to replay, I said, ‘OK, they’ll get it right.'”

The first third of Saturday’s fight was difficult to score, with tons of inside fighting. But like in the first meeting, Franco took over as the fight pushed on. His jab was the key this time around, setting up 127 power punches landed to Moloney’s 73.

“I had to switch it up on him,” said Franco, who is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya. “He thought I was going to put pressure on him the whole time. That wasn’t working, so I had to switch it up and go to my boxing skills.

“I had fun with my rhythm, with my jab, my feet. I’m comfortable in there, and that’s what I did.”

Tito Ortiz to Fight Anderson Silva in Cruiserweight Boxing Match Next Month

Tito Ortiz is preparing to fight a fellow MMA legend… But it won’t be in a cage.

The 46-year-old half-Mexican American mixed martial artist will fight Anderson Silva in an eight-round cruiserweight boxing match on September 11.

Tito Ortiz

Ortiz and Silva will participate in the co-feature before Oscar De La Hoya faces Vitor Belfort in the pay-per-view main event, Triller co-founder Ryan Kavanaugh tells ESPN.

The Triller PPV will take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will feature two other boxing matches: former heavyweight champion David Haye vs. Joe Fournier and Andy Vences vs. Jono Carroll in a battle of 130-pound fringe contenders.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity, along with my team, to get in the ring against Tito Ortiz on September 11 with Triller Fight Club, who are really shaking things up in the combat sports world,” Silva said.

The Silva-Ortiz and Haye-Fournier fights will be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, meaning they will be real bouts, not exhibitions. Silva and Ortiz will fight eight two-minute rounds, and Haye and Fournier will fight eight three-minute rounds.

“Big” John McCarthy, a former longtime UFC referee, will officiate Silva-Ortiz.

Silva scored an upset over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June, just his third pro boxing match, then entered negotiations for a fight with YouTube personality Logan Paul.

Silva is a former UFC middleweight champion and holds the record for longest title reign in promotion history at 2,457 days. He’s one of the most recognizable draws in MMA history, with 18 headline appearances on UFC PPV. He suffered a fourth-round TKO defeat to Uriah Hall in October — his seventh loss in his past nine appearances in the Octagon — and was released by the UFC one month later.

Ortiz was also one of the UFC’s most bankable stars. He’ll make his pro boxing debut at 46, nearly 10 years after his final UFC fight.

“I am excited to be taking on a new challenge and compete against another great fighter in Anderson Silva,” said Ortiz, a long-reigning UFC light heavyweight champion who made his debut at UFC 13 in 1997. “As a patriot, fighting on Sept. 11 means a lot to me.”

Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. Defeats Javier Fortuna to Claim Vacant WBC Interim Lightweight Title

Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. is celebrating his good fortuna

The 28-year-old Mexican American professional boxer delivered the most impressive performance of his career on Friday in Los Angeles, scoring a unanimous decision over Javier Fortuna to claim the vacant WBC interim lightweight title.

Joseph "JoJo" Diaz Jr.

Scores were 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112. ESPN also scored it 115-112.

In his lightweight debut, Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs) showed he could absorb heavy shots from a dangerous puncher and carry his own power, too. He wobbled Fortuna toward the end of the 10th round of a fight that featured some brutal exchanges on the inside, often waged at a frenetic pace.

“I can fight all the top guys at 135 pounds,” said Diaz, who entered the bout as ESPN’s No. 5 boxer at 130 pounds. “I want Ryan Garcia or Devin Haney. Let’s make this s— happen.

“I’ve been sparring 160 pounders. I’ve always worked with bigger guys my whole life.”

Despite fighting for his first world title at 126 pounds (a close decision defeat to Gary Russell Jr.) before capturing a championship at 130, 135 appears to be Diaz’s most natural weight class. He looked stronger than ever, and without the tough weight cut, showed off energy down the stretch to unleash four- and five-punch combinations against a crafty contender.

The 2012 Olympian was forced to deal with adversity yet again. He suffered a cut over his left eye in Round 3 following a clash of heads — a gash in the same area he bled from in his title-winning effort vs. Tevin Farmer in January 2020.

The following frame, Diaz was penalized one point by referee Raul Caiz Jr., for hitting behind the head, a point deduction that seemed borderline. Diaz argued that he was hitting Fortuna on the side of the head to no avail.

Fortuna, ESPN’s No. 8 fighter at 135 pounds, pressed the action in Rounds 5 and 6, beating Diaz to the punch with power shots. But the 31-year-old couldn’t sustain.

Fighting in front of a hometown crowd at Banc of California Stadium, Diaz ratcheted up the pressure and began to dig away at Fortuna’s body with a two-fisted attack that stunted the Dominican’s momentum.

Diaz simply landed the cleaner, flusher shots in the exchanges down the stretch, winning the favor of the judges in a bout that featured many tit-for-tat rounds. Fortuna threw 761 punches — 240 more than Diaz — yet landed 10 less shots.

With the convincing victory, Diaz set himself up for a career-high payday in one of boxing’s most star-driven divisions. Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia all reside at lightweight.

The easiest matchups to make are with Haney and Garcia, both of whom also compete on DAZN. Haney and Garcia also are available; they each have no fights scheduled. But it’s the Garcia fight in particular that is more appealing for many reasons.

Garcia was actually set to fight Fortuna (36-3-1, 25 KOs) on this night before he withdrew from the bout to seek treatment for his mental health. When he pulled out, Diaz quickly lobbied for the opportunity to step in, looking for redemption after losing his title at the scales in February before settling for a majority draw against Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov.

Now that Garcia is back in training with Eddy Reynoso at Canelo Alvarez’s gym in San Diego, a bout between Diaz and the social media sensation is a natural. They’re both Mexican Americans from Southern California who are promoted by Oscar De La Hoya. Stage the fight this fall in L.A., and they can practically guarantee a windfall at the box office.

“JoJo once again showed a lot of guts, a lot of courage and a big heart,” De La Hoya said. “His first fight at 135 was not too shabby. I think he did a great job against a guy who’s been avoided for years.”

Oscar de la Hoya to Return to the Ring in July

Oscar de la Hoya is officially coming out of retirement…

The 48-year-old Mexican American former professional boxer and boxing legend has a date in mind for his previously stated plan to return to the ring.

Oscar De La Hoya

At a news conference for the upstart promoter Triller Fight Club, de la Hoya took the stage alongside Snoop Dogg at the Venetian and suddenly announced that he’d be making his boxing comeback on July 3.

De La Hoya said last August that he would be coming out of retirement, but now there is a date for his return. And he will be promoted by the new fight promotion launched by Triller, the social media app.

Ryan Kavanaugh, the CEO of Triller parent company Proxima Media, told ESPN that he and de la Hoya are “dear friends” and the two have been discussing his return for “a long time.” Kavanaugh said the card will take place in Texas — possibly AT&T Stadium — and the promotion is targeting a “big” UFC name for de la Hoya’s opponent.

“He has been [training] and in his own words, he’s stronger and better than ever,” Kavanaugh said of De La Hoya.

Sources told ESPN that de la Hoya has a multifight deal with Triller and this will not be a one-off bout.

de la Hoya, a former six-division boxing champion and Olympic gold medalist, has not fought since a 2008 loss to Manny Pacquiao. He’s one of the best drawing boxers in the sport’s history. The news conference was held Friday to promote Triller Fight Club’s April 17 card, which is headlined by YouTube star Jake Paul and former UFC fighter and wrestling Olympian Ben Askren.

Jose Ramirez In Talks to Face Josh Taylor in 140-pound Unification Fight

Jose Ramirez could possibly be fighting the biggest battle of his career in May…

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has reserved the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 8 for a long-awaited 140-pound unification fight between the 28-year-old Mexican American boxer, the WBC and WBO champion, and IBF and WBA champion Josh Taylor (17-0).

Jose Ramirez

Canelo Alvarez will fight WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders — also in Las Vegas — on either May 1 or May 8, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday, but the Taylor-Ramirez date will not change, according to Top Rank.

Arum said he’s “looking forward” to having fans in attendance “in accordance with strict standards imposed by the state of Nevada.”

Arum said Taylor is already working on a obtaining a visa and that the purses between the two ex-Olympians will be equal.

“From our side of the table, we are happy moving forward with Taylor-Ramirez,” said Jamie Conlan, vice president of MTK Global, which advises Taylor and also has a relationship with Ramirez’s manager, Rick Mirigian.

Mirigian, however, said deal isn’t yet locked up with his client.

“I’m optimistic, but negotiations continue,” Mirigian said. Another interested party is undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, who has said he wants to fight the winner to become the only undisputed four-belt champion at both 135 and 140 pounds.

On Thursday, Arum hosted a lunch at his Beverly Hills home with Golden Boy‘s Oscar De La Hoya and Eric Gomez. Among the subjects discussed was a possible mega fight between Lopez and Garcia.

Garcia’s team was not at the lunch

The idea, according to Arum, was for Lopez to defend against his IBF mandatory challenger, and Garcia to fight Javier Fortuna, then meet in a mega fight.

“It would have to be this year,” Arum said. “Because after that, Teofimo is going up to fight the winner of Taylor-Ramirez.”

Canelo Alvarez Officially a Free Agent After Release from Golden Boy Contract

Canelo Alvarez is officially a free agent.

After several days of negotiations, representatives for the 30-year-old Mexican boxer and four-division world champion, the sport’s most lucrative fighter, and Golden Boy Promotions have reached an agreement to release him.

Canelo Alvarez

In September, Alvarez filed a lawsuit in federal court citing a breach of contract on an 11-fight, $365 million deal signed in 2018. A subsequent mediation situation between all parties failed, and the suit was refiled after a technical error.

Alvarez has not fought since November 2019, when he defeated light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev via DAZN. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alvarez, Golden Boy and DAZN were unable to agree on Alvarez’s next opponent and the salary for that fight.

“After extended discussions between the parties, DAZN offered to pay Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions a fraction of the contracted $40 million license fee in cash and some DAZN stock in advance of a potential IPO,” according to the initial lawsuit filed in California. “However, the entire value of the package — for a bout against another World Champion — was substantially less than Alvarez’s contractual guarantee.”

When Alvarez initially signed with DAZN, it was a massive moment for the business of boxing. Alvarez had agreed to fight on the streaming platform that opted for a monthly subscription over the traditional pay-per-view model used in boxing in recent decades. DAZN also signed Gennadiy Golovkin, whom Canelo has defeated once and drawn with in two controversial outcomes.

However, a third fight to complete the trilogy has become less likely in the wake of Alvarez’s release from his promotional contract.

Court filings show that Alvarez’s lawsuit was refiled October 8 and an additional motion was submitted by the defendants that said the lawsuit should be settled via arbitration, which Alvarez’s side disagreed with. In a statement Friday afternoon, Golden Boy chairman Oscar De La Hoya said both sides had come to an amicable solution.

“The lawsuit was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and we wish Canelo the best going forward,” De La Hoya said in the statement. “In the strong partnership with DAZN, we will continue showcasing our wide array of talent, including rising superstars like Ryan Garcia, Jaime Munguia and Vergil Ortiz Jr., all of whom have the talent and potential to become the next biggest star in our sport.”

Ryan Garcia to Fight Luke Campbell for the WBC Interim Lightweight Title in December

The date is set for Ryan Garcia’s title fight…

The bout between the 22-year-old Mexican American boxer and Luke Campbell for the WBC interim lightweight title will take place on December 5, Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN have announced.

Ryan Garcia

The venue is still to be determined.

Vasiliy Lomachenko is the WBC lightweight “franchise” champion; Devin Haney is the WBC titleholder.

This is the first title fight for the 22-year-old Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs), who has not fought since a highlight-reel first-round knockout of Francisco Fonseca on February 14.

“I’ve been eagerly waiting to get back in the ring and have been working harder than ever to get here,” Garcia said. “It’s been a tough year for everyone, but I’m excited to bring the fans an escape for the night … or based on my track record, a few minutes at most. Luke’s record speaks for itself, but I’m ready to prove the doubters wrong. This is my era now and Dec. 5 is just the start of it.”

Added promoter Oscar De La Hoya: “For years, the world of boxing has been clamoring for a crossover star who can reach new audiences that have gone untapped for far too long. Ryan Garcia stands at the precipice of doing the same thing at an incredibly young age when he takes on Luke Campbell.”

The 33-year-old Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) is ESPN‘s third-ranked lightweight and a seasoned veteran who has faced the likes of Jorge Linares and Lomachenko in recent years.

“2020 has been an extremely tough year for everyone, so I’m really pleased we can finally get this fight officially on and give the fans something to look forward to,” said Campbell, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. “There’s been a lot of talk and he’s clearly a very highly regarded fighter, but I’m going to prove that this is far too much, far too soon, and that I’m on a completely different level.

“I’ve fought in America before, so this will be nothing new for myself and my team. Fans or no fans, the one thing I can guarantee is that I will be coming back to the UK with the victory. Training hasn’t stopped for me, and I’m going to be in peak condition to show something very special from Luke Campbell on December 5.”

Ryan Garcia Reaches Final Agreement to Fight Luke Campbell for WBC Interim Lightweight Title

It’s official! Ryan Garcia will be fighting for a title…

The promoters for the 22-year-old Mexican American boxer and Campbell have officially reached an agreement for a WBC interim lightweight title fight to take place in November. Both parties had tentatively agreed to the fight earlier this month.

Ryan Garcia

Matchroom Sports, which promotes Campbell, and Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Garcia, made the announcement on Wednesday, just minutes before a WBC purse bid was to be held for the right to promote the bout.

Last week, the two sides had requested a seven-day extension believing they were close to a deal.

The venue has not been finalized, but Golden Boy president Oscar de la Hoya said it will take place in California.

“We’re very happy that Ryan Garcia will be fighting here in the U.S. in California,” De La Hoya said. “It’s a very difficult fight, and again, we have to give it to DAZN, we have to give it to [Matchroom promoter] Eddie Hearn for making this happen, and we’re looking forward to it.”

The WBC recently ordered this bout to be for their interim title, putting the winner a step closer to a shot at champion Devin Haney. Vasiliy Lomachenko is the WBC “franchise” champion.

Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) will arguably be the toughest opponent of Garcia’s (20-0, 17 KOs) young career. He won a gold medal in the 2012 London Games and put a good effort in decision losses to Jorge Linares in 2017 and Lomachenko in 2019.

de la Hoya said he believes Garcia, the 2017 ESPN prospect of the year, is ready to face a fighter of Campbell’s caliber.

“Absolutely, 1,000 percent,” De La Hoya said. “We strongly believe that once and for all, Ryan Garcia will be able to shut up the critics, prove to everyone that he’s the real deal. It doesn’t get any bigger or more dangerous than Luke Campbell, being an Olympic gold medalist, being tall, strong, and this is going to be Ryan’s time to shine.”

Garcia and Golden Boy haven’t always been on the same page, but with this fight now being made, it seems as though they are a united front.

“Everything is wonderful,” de la Hoya said. “As Ryan has always said, and the way I’ve always expressed it, we’re a family. Families sometime have their differences, but at the end of the day, we’re still family.”

Oscar de la Hoya Says He’s Coming Out of Retirement & Resuming Boxing Career

Oscar de la Hoya is ready to rumble once again…

The 47-year-old Mexican American former professional boxer and boxing/mixed martial arts promoter says he’s planning to return to the ring.

Oscar De La Hoya

Twelve years after his last fight, the 11-time titlist confirmed he’s ready to end his retirement.

“The rumors are true, and I’m going to start sparring in the next few weeks,” de la Hoya said.

de la Hoya (39-6 30 KOs) added that he won’t be engaging in an exhibition fight like fellow retired champions Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.

“It’s a real fight,” he said. “I miss being in the ring, I love boxing. Boxing is what gave me everything I have today, and I just miss it.”

After winning a gold medal for the United States at the 1992 Barcelona Games, de la Hoya had a meteoric rise in the professional ranks, winning the WBO junior lightweight title by stopping Jimmi Bredahl in 10 rounds in 1994, in only his 12th professional bout.

de la Hoya would eventually win major world titles in six different weight classes.

During this stretch, “The Golden Boy” was considered one of the best fighters in boxing and its biggest pay-per-view and gate attraction. He was as marketable outside the ring as he was good inside of it. There are very few fighters who can appear on the cover of Ring Magazine and Newsweek.

de la Hoya’s career came to an ignominious conclusion when he quit on his stool after the eighth round of a fight against Manny Pacquiao in December 2008. A few months later at age 36, de la Hoya announced his retirement.

“Look, my last fight with Pacquiao, I weighed in at 145 and obviously that was a shell of myself,” said de la Hoya of his ill-fated decision to move down to welterweight to face Pacquiao after seven years of campaigning at junior middleweight.

Now, as he’s set to return, de la Hoya understands that many will question his decision.

“Look, it’s been a long time, yes,” said de la Hoya, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014. “But actually my jab feels faster than ever. I have to make sure that my conditioning is perfect, my health is good. And that’s going to take place in the next few weeks. So we’ll see.”

de la Hoya, who has battled drug and alcohol addiction in the past, said he started to get back into shape a couple of months ago, and as he began to feel better and better, the old itch came back.

de la Hoya said he looked around the current landscape of boxing and didn’t like what he saw.

“All these fighters are not of the level that was 15, 20 years [ago], all these fighters are demanding so much money, all these fighters are demanding the moon,” said de la Hoya. “And they’re forgetting that you must train hard, you must work hard. So that’s a huge advantage for me because I know what it takes to train hard, I know how to train smart. I know how to fight smart in the ring.

“These guys are in it just for the money — that’ll be the big difference. I will fight for the glory, and these guys only fight for the money. And guess what? The glory will always win.”

For now, the plan is to compete between 154-160 pounds. As for who he will be targeting?

“Any top guy, any top guy out there,” said de la Hoya.

Henry Cejudo Open to Return to Competition with Fight Against Ryan Garcia

Henry Cejudo is open to a comeback…

The 33-year-old Mexican American retired mixed martial artist is open to return to competition, witha fight against up-and-coming boxer Ryan Garcia at the top of his wish list.

Henry Cejudo

The former UFC double champion told ESPN that if any bout would get him to come back, it would be one against Garcia, the 21-year-old boxing prodigy promoted by Oscar De La Hoya‘s Golden Boy Promotions.

Cejudo and Garcia have been going back-and-forth on social media for weeks. Cejudo said he’d be willing to face Garcia in a boxing match, but he proposed a hybrid fight with 10-ounce boxing best heated gloves that have the fingers exposed for grappling.

Previously, Cejudo, a former Olympic wrestling gold medalist, said he’d most like to return against UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. But the ex-UFC flyweight and bantamweight champ has changed his tune a bit.

“I think Ryan Garcia would be the easiest payday ‘Triple C’ would ever get,” Cejudo said. “It would be a lot bigger than any purse I did in the UFC. If there’s any fight that intrigues me between staying retired, between fighting … Alexander Volkanovski or fighting … Ryan Garcia, I like the payday. Plus, it’s easy money because he’s fought nobody.”

Cejudo added that he thinks Garcia is “another Sean O’Malley,” referring to the highly touted UFC bantamweight prospect, when it comes to unfounded hype.

“It makes me sick,” Cejudo said.

Cejudo said Garcia “wouldn’t make it 30 seconds” with him in mixed martial arts. A bout between the two seems like a long shot. Cejudo still has a UFC contract, and the promotion would have to OK any other fight deal or be part of the co-promotion.

Cejudo (16-2) stepped away from MMA unexpectedly after six straight wins. ESPNstill has him ranked No. 3 on its pound-for-pound fighter list. Cejudo has an impressive résumé, including being one of four fighters to hold two UFC titles at the same time. The Arizona resident has beaten the likes of Demetrious JohnsonTJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz, all former champions.

“Triple C” is apparently now looking to add Garcia to that list.

“Ryan Garcia, if you are watching this … answer the call, man, and sign the damn contract,” Cejudo said.