The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s use of instant replay produced anything but an instant result, and now Bob Bennett is responding to critics of how they handled last Saturday’s Joshua Franco vs. Andrew Moloney fight.
Franco was unable to continue due to a badly swollen right eye, which referee Russell Mora deemed was caused by a significant headbutt. Since the fight ended after just two rounds, the bout was ruled a no contest and was ineligible to go to the scorecards.
Controversy arose when the commission went to instant replay and we didn’t hear an official verdict for 26 minutes, which made for terrible television and certainly didn’t suggest a streamlined process. Even worse is that television replays from ESPN didn’t indicate that a headbutt is what led to the swelling. Timothy Bradley seemed pretty adamant that a jab to the eye is what did the damage, and further jabs throughout the bout swelled it shut. If that was the case, Moloney would’ve won by TKO.
NSAC executive director Bob Bennett insisted that he actually told Top Rank Boxing ring announcer Mark Shunock that it was a no-decision right away, and that the rest of the time was spent just uh... double checking?
“Right then and there, I said it was a no-decision,” Bennett said to The Athletic’s Lance Pugmire. “The subsequent 25 minutes for us was just us going over (the replays), to see that it was a headbutt. We weren’t going to overturn what we’d said, but I wanted to look at it for our own benefit. We saw some punches, yes, but we also saw two spots where there was a headbutt.
“I don’t know why they didn’t announce it.”
Shunock contended that while he “did receive the results immediately,” the commission’s subsequent review is why he “waited with everyone else until they completed their review.” It certainly seems puzzling as to why they would need to bring in additional commission members if Bennett was absolutely sure this was a no-decision and they weren’t going to overturn anything.
As ESPN kept showing viewers and the commission more replays and alternate angles of the fight, along with the isolated segment where the possible headbutt occurred, Bennett defended the lengthy wait by saying that there would be a lengthy wait anyway before Terence Crawford vs. Kell Brook.
“I knew what they were thinking: ‘We’ve been doing this a long time.’ Who cares? The decision was made, we told (Shunock) what it was,” Bennett said. “So let’s keep seeing if what Russell said was really true, or if he missed the call. There wasn’t clear, conclusive evidence. We couldn’t overrule it.”
Top Rank Boxing’s Evan Korn has disputed Bennett’s story, saying no clear directive was ever given to Shunock.
Per Pugmire, “no indication was given from the commission to either fighter as they each anxiously awaited a final decision in the ring after Moloney originally celebrated.” Not exactly clear and concise communication, is it?
There’s also this from an anonymous Nevada official. This isn’t to say headbutts can’t cause fractured eye sockets, but this is absolutely silly reasoning to think super-flyweights can’t damage each other’s eyes with jabs.
A regulator from Nevada said the fractured eye socket of @JoshuaFranco_ validates their final decision: "You ever see a super-flyweight throw a jab and fracture an eye socket? You think that comes from punches.”— Lance Pugmire (@pugboxing) November 15, 2020
So essentially there’s a lot of finger pointing between the NAC and Top Rank. Moloney’s team is filing an appeal, and funnily enough one of the things they intend to cite is a tweet from Oscar De La Hoya, Franco’s promoter, who literally said he didn’t see a headbutt not too long after everyone else assumed (at the time) that the headbutt caused the swelling.
You can watch the fight video below. At about the 2:07 mark of Round 1 is where the headbutt appears to have occurred.
Meanwhile, the other video showing the jab that may have been the culprit and why Moloney’s team believes they were robbed.
“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