‘Devastated’: Aussie robbed of famous title
HEARTBROKEN Aussie Jason Moloney was denied the IBF world bantamweight boxing title by a controversial split decision against unbeaten Puerto Rican strongman Manny Rodriguez in Orlando, Florida.
Moloney, born and raised in Melbourne and now living on the beach at Kingscliff on the Queensland-New South Wales border, surged home against the rugged champion, rocking him repeatedly in the closing stages only to have two of the three judges award the fight to the local favourite.
Earlier on Sunday, Brisbane powerhouse Mark "Bam Bam" Flanagan fought his heart out but was halted in the ninth round against WBA interim cruiserweight (91kg) champion Arsen Goulamirian at the Palais des Sports in Marseille, France.
Flanagan started well but Goulamirian began to find his range midway through the bout.
He decked the brave Flanagan twice in round nine and Flanagan's corner threw in the towel.
A huge underdog going into his fight, Moloney recovered from a slow start, overpowering Rodriguez in the closing rounds but it was not enough to overcome the big lead built by the Puerto Rican.
Rodriguez retained his IBF world bantamweight (53.5kg) title after 12 tough rounds by two scores of 115-113 (or seven rounds to five). The third judge gave the fight to Moloney by the same margin.
Moloney said: "I am devastated. After the fifth round I came on very strong and believe I won most if not all of the remaining rounds. I hope I can achieve my dream and become world champion very soon."
The world bantamweight title has previously been held by all-time Aussie greats Jeff Fenech, Lionel Rose and Jimmy Carruthers and Fenech said it would not be long before Moloney joined those iconic heroes after his incredibly brave effort.
"I've never been prouder watching an Aussie fight for a long, long time," Fenech said.
"Jason hold your head up high, learn from this experience and it won't be long before you have a belt around your waist. Great job my friend."
Rodriguez is now unbeaten in 19 fights while Moloney's record drops to 17-1.
"It took Moloney to bring out the best in me," Rodriguez said.
"We knew the fight was close but my corner told me I was in front all the way.
Moloney's trainer Angelo Hyder said he thought his fighter had done enough to earn the decision.
In Marseille, Flanagan suffered his sixth loss in 30 fights.
Goulamirian is now unbeaten in 24 fights. He is trained by American Abel Sanchez, who also coaches middleweight great Gennady Golovkin.
"The better man won tonight," Flanagan said.
"It's heartbreaking to say the least but it was a very good hard fight, a war from bell to bell and I'm proud of my effort and corner for doing what they thought was right."
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