You wanted instant replay? You got instant replay. What you won’t necessarily get from the Nevada State Athletic Commission is anything “instant” or the right call.
In the co-main event to Terence Crawford vs. Kell Brook, Australian super-flyweight Andrew Moloney jabbed up Joshua Franco over two rounds before Franco’s right eye had swollen shut. The fight would be stopped before round three, but referee Russell Mora had ruled an accidental headbutt less than a minute into round one had caused the swelling, so it would be a no-contest.
Just one problem: Nothing indicated that this was correct. All signs pointed to it being a punch/thumb to the eye, which would’ve meant a TKO win for Moloney.
“I’ve been involved in many headbutts and I’ve never seen that happen.” @Timbradleyjr says he knows a thing or two about headbutts and Moloney didn’t land one. #CrawfordBrook pic.twitter.com/3n80C16jaE— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) November 15, 2020
Here is the “headbutt” believed to have marked the end of Franco having a functioning eye.
We are going to replay in Vegas— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) November 15, 2020
Andrew Moloney is waiting to see if he reclaims his title via TKO or receives a no contest due to a called accidental headbutt. #CrawfordBrook pic.twitter.com/w9E9Ty3iJ5
Well there’s good news! Ordinarily this would just be a wrong call and we move on. Nevada recently instituted an instant replay system that is designed to retroactively fix these potential errors both in boxing and MMA. But just because the technology is there doesn’t erase the possibility for humans to screw it up anyway.
This review took 26 minutes. TWENTY-SIX MINUTES. The fight itself only lasted six minutes. NSAC executive director Bob Bennett, as well as officials Robert Byrd, Jay Nady, and probably the ghosts of the people from the Warren Commission to take a look to see if the call should’ve been overturned.
BUT BUT THE GOLD STANDARD pic.twitter.com/srBjkN4cuN— Respected Bridgerweight Historian (@BoxrecGrey) November 15, 2020
Even in full rebroadcasts of the first round, it looked to be a punch that caused the swelling and certainly there were a couple of minor head clashes or bumps that occurred on the other side of Franco’s face, rendering them irrelevant.
After 26 minutes, they still upheld Russell Mora’s ruling and it’s a no-contest. Robert Byrd says they saw two headbutts.
Robert Byrd says they saw two head butts. Bennett declined comment pic.twitter.com/RsZBcmn1Ne— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) November 15, 2020
Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who promotes Moloney, was irate and got into a shouting match with Bob Bennett. A battle of the Bobs, if you will.
Moloney undoubtedly lost his WBA secondary title to Franco fair and square when they first fought over the summer. He was robbed of getting the belt back in the rematch by incompetent commission work that wasted everyone’s time. There surely would’ve been a trilogy either way, but the commission failed him. They honestly failed Franco too as he just stood in the ring for 30 minutes while the replay officials came to the wrong conclusion.
The language specifies a “significant clash of heads” and there sure as hell was no evidence of that. ESPN’s broadcast team basically lampooned the commission on live television, which is actually terrible television when you think about it. If you’re going to have replay in place there is no reason to have it last that long, and it’s even more damning when you get the call wrong anyway despite multiple reviews and angles.
Between this and Chris Lee’s 48-47 scorecard for Paul Felder on the UFC Vegas 14 show earlier that evening, this has been an absolutely pathetic and unacceptable weekend even by Nevada State Athletic Commission standards.