Aust's Moloney twins in Vegas dream bouts

Andrew and Jason Moloney thought the pandemic would halt their US fight plans, but they are in Las Vegas ready to battle in the MGM Casino bubble.

ANDREW MOLONEY of Australia.
ANDREW MOLONEY of Australia. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Andrew Moloney will fulfill a dream when he enters the ring at the MGM Grand Casino on the Las Vegas strip later this month to defend his WBA super-flyweight title.

The dream bout against Texan challenger Joshua Franco, however, will not be exactly how Moloney envisioned it as a kid growing up in Australia.

Instead of 16,000 screaming fans in the stands and Hollywood A-Listers sitting front row, there will not be a single spectator at the June 23 fight.

"There will be no media, no crowd, nothing," Melbourne-born Moloney, 29, told AAP on Thursday.

"Even the commentators are at home or in another room."

The strict protocols are designed to protect the fighters, the referee and the handful of others ringside from COVID-19.

Moloney is not complaining.

The Top Rank-promoted fight will be broadcast to sports-starved fans on ESPN in the US and around the world, exposing him to the biggest audience of his 21-0 (14 knockouts) professional career.

Adding to the fairytale, his twin brother Jason, a world-ranked super bantamweight, will battle in another Top Rank fight night at the MGM on June 25.

He faces Californian-based Colombian Oscar Negrete.

The Moloneys thought the pandemic would maroon them in Australia for the rest of the year but their manager Tony Tolj did what was thought impossible and secured exemptions, allowing the brothers to fly to the US last month.

"Tony gave us a call on a Thursday and said 'Boys pack your stuff, we have an exemption'," Moloney said.

Top Rank, the MGM and the Nevada State Athletic Commission have gone to great lengths to build a "bubble" to protect boxers for an ambitious schedule of fights.

The boxers will compete in a specially-constructed boxing facility inside the MGM's Convention Centre.

"They have basically booked out a floor at the MGM which they call the bubble," Moloney said.

"It's where all of the fighters are staying and they have gym facilities there for the fighters to train and all of the testing rooms and the venue right in the middle."

The Moloneys, who arrived in the US on May 16, are currently living in a house a short drive from an empty Top Rank gym where they spar with screened fighters.

They are regularly tested for COVID-19.

Next week they will move into the "bubble" at the MGM.

The stringent protocols led to co-feature fighter Mikaela Mayer being pulled from her bout after a COVID-19 positive test on the weekend.


AAP