Australian boxer Andrew Moloney has been denied the WBA super flyweight boxing title after a controversial no contest ruling.
Most experts were certain Moloney had reclaimed the title from Joshua Franco when the American was unable to take to the ring for the third round of their Las Vegas bout.
Franco’s eye swelled up from what was ruled an accidental headbutt in the first round of the scheduled 12-round contest.
After the ringside physician ruled Franco couldn’t go on at the end of second round because his eye was shut, the fight was called a no contest against Moloney.
Officials have denied Andrew Moloney (pictured right with twin brother Jason) of the WBA super flyweight boxing title
Nevada Athletic Commission officials reviewed the replay several times, spending a total of 26 minutes before upholding the no contest decision by referee Russell Mora.
As the waiting went on, the ESPN broadcast team was adamant on air that they could see no headbutt and that Moloney should have been declared the winner because the eye damage was caused by punches.
‘I can’t believe that they took this away from me. I’ve trained my arse off the last five months, been away from my family,’ the 29-year-old Moloney told ESPN.
‘I can’t believe they didn’t give it to me. I can’t believe they’re taking this away from me.
‘He did not touch me. That eye was closed by 50 jabs. That’s why his eye’s shut, not the headbutt. There was no headbutt.’
Promoter Bob Arum was livid about the decision, protesting to no avail to Bob Bennett, head of the Nevada commission.
Referee ruled Moloney’s opponent Joshua Franco (pictured) injured his eye in an accidental headbutt
The bout was called a no contest, sending fans on social media into a meltdown. Pictured: a tweet from Joe Rogan after the controversial decision
‘This is an absolute disgrace,’ Arum said. ‘There was no headbutt. Andrew Moloney should be the new champion.’
The fight was a rematch of their first fight when Franco knocked Moloney down in the 11th round and scored a unanimous decision over the formerly unbeaten Australian.
Social media was rife with disappointed fans after the controversial decision, with many shocked Moloney was not granted victory.
‘My god did this man get robbed. One of the worst calls ever. What is the point of an instant replay when this can happen?’ UFC fight commentator and comedian Joe Rogan tweeted.
‘That might be the single worst instance of instant replay in sports history,’ another disgruntled fan posted. ‘What a joke.’
The bout was staged on the undercard to the Terence Crawford-Kell Brook WBO welterweight contest.
Crawford retained his crown after stopping Brook inside four rounds.
Moloney connects a right hand to Franco’s jaw during their fight for the WBA super flyweight title in Las Vegas