Nevada Commission’s Bennett Defended Franco-Moloney Ruling
The controversy still continues over Saturday night’s WBA Junior Bantamweight World title fight between Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney in Las Vegas that concluded the longest and most bizarre instant replay delay imaginable before being ruled no contest.
And, the head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who was in charge of that replay system went on the offensive Monday afternoon.
In an extensive live conversation with our Las Vegas radio buddy T.C. Martin, NSAC executive director Bob Bennett made clear that: not only did the replay review system work correctly, but that veteran championship referee Russell Mora should be commended for having ruled the injury to Franco from an accidental butt and eventually, the fight a “no decision.”
Hear the full comments lasting nealy 30 minutes off of T.C.’s archived second hour of his Monday program here:
Hear today's exclusive interview with Nevad State Athletic Commission Executive Director Bob Bennett explain the controversy of #FrancoMoloney2 @trboxing @EspnBoxing Listen on homepage at https://t.co/zbp77fAANS pic.twitter.com/CfhfxnHJwK
— TC Martin (@TCMartin21) November 17, 2020
Bennett asserted from the outset that Mora made the correct judgement in round one that Franco’s eye injury, which eventually stopped the fight after the second round, had been caused by an unintentional clash of heads. And, that Mora reported it to them at ringside during the first round,
“Russell Mora did an outstanding job,” Bennett told the show. “I can assure you there were head butts…the referee is the sole arbitrator of the bout and he’s the only authorized individual to stop a contest…. and if an accidental foul causes the referee to stop the fight before four rounds are complete, it will be ruled a no contest.”
Video evidence does back that Mora was claiming accidental butt at the two minute mark of the opening round.
However, Moloney and his camp are furious, believing that they were robbed of a TKO win. This, as he continued to hammer Franco with left jabs and hooks and they believe that the damage to the eye was not caused by a clash of heads.
With regard to the near 27 minute delay between the initiation of the replay review and the ultimate decision being announced by the Top Rank ring announcer that the fight was a no-contest, Bennett made it clear on the radio show Monday that they had informed ring announcer and ESPN within several minutes that they had verified Mora’s ruling on replay and the fight would be ruled no contest,
“When they neglected to announce it, ESPN continued running footage for it. So, we continued to look at it to see if it validated Russell’s position (accidental foul). It did… We continued to watch it, because it was a controversial issue at the time.”
Bennett later asserted in the conversation that ESPN was choosing not to announce the outcome of the fight on their own, but instead continued to show replays of the rounds with analysis due to the fight being over quickly and not yet ready for the Terence Crawford-Kell Brook Welterweight Title Fight main event to start.
Finally, on the controversy involving Top Rank promoter Bob Arum becoming incensed with the outcome and screaming at Bennett at his ringside position, Bennett stated Monday,
“For him to accuse us of looking to ‘take care of’ the referee and cover for the referee is totally ludicrous. After being in the Marines and the FBI for 30 years, do really think I am going to protect the referee at the expense of the Nevada State Athletic Commission?
Really? I don’t think so.
I would expect much more from a Harvard Law graduate (Arum). He’s way above that.”
For their part, the World Boxing Association, which has a dubious history involving controversies in its championship fights, says they will investigate further to determine whether or not the outcome of no contest was correct? Or, they might take the unusual but possible step of reversing a decision and awarding the second round TKO to Moloney and make him the WBA 115-pound Champion, again.
No matter what ultimately gets decided, Arum wants to make a third Franco-Moloney fight and potentially hold it in Moloney’s native Australia for the first part of 2021.
As for Bennett, you have to credit him for being willing to give extended comments on their position, even if there’s a strong argument that Franco’s eye injury was more from the punches and the call was incorrect in from Mora in the first place.