This Friday night at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma, undefeated featherweight sensation Javier Fortuna will meet former Olympian Luis Franco. The fight will be broadcast on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
Fortuna is one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport. He’s already held the WBA interim title.
Luis Franco is yet another former Cuban amateur looking to make it big in the professional ranks. This is a fight with implications for the top of the featherweight rankings.
|Per Boxrec||Javier Fortuna||Luis Franco|
|Record:||22-0, 16 KOs||11-1, 7 KOs|
|Weight:||126 pounds||126 pounds|
|Hometown:||La Romana, D.R.||Miami, FL|
Javier Fortuna is younger, bigger and quicker than Luis Franco. He’s also got more experience in the professional ring.
Franco has only a dozen professional fights, but like most former Cuban amateurs, he has wasted no time advancing his career.
Don’t expect Franco to be troubled by Fortuna’s southpaw stance. He spent years in Cuba being schooled by Guillermo Rigondeaux, who just might be the best left-handed fighter on the planet at this point.
Javier Fortuna is an exciting young fighter and he’s already had some pretty nice showcases in front of national audiences. He beat fellow unbeaten-prospect Patrick Hyland on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez card last December, winning the interim WBA title in the process.
There are a lot of very good fights out there for Fortuna if he keeps winning. He is promoted by Lou Dibella, so he’s a neutral party in the Top Rank-Golden Boy cold war.
That means he has more potential matchups than many of the sport’s biggest stars.
Luis Franco turned down an opportunity to fight Billy Dib for the IBF title last March. According to Boxing Scene, he was unhappy with the amount of money he was offered for the fight.
Instead, the Mexican Russian, Evgeny Gradovich, stepped in and upset Dib to capture the belt.
Franco lost his last fight by split decision to Mauricio Munoz, although he won by 10 rounds to two according to the judge who scored for him.
I consider it a pretty lousy decision, but Munoz definitely came on strong down the stretch and made it relatively close. By comparison, Munoz lost last weekend to Gradovich by near-total shutout.
Javier Fortuna is a high-energy fighter, with good power in both hands. His left uppercut is a very dangerous punch, especially when he hides it behind his jab.
Fortuna is in his element during heated exchanges. He has quick hands and reflexes.
He is very good at beating his opponents to the punch, but he can also slip or move away from an attack, before countering violently.
Luis Franco’s pedigree as a member of the Cuban national team is obvious from watching him work for even a few rounds. He does an exceptional job of seeing punches coming, and then moving out of range, or else in close to smother them.
Franco counters accurately. He throws fluid punches from a wide variety of angles and picks up defensive openings very well.
Javier Fortuna has a crisp jab when he gets into a rhythm on offense. But when he is outside looking to attack, he has a bad habit of lazily waving the lead right instead of pumping it.
An orthodox fighter with an aggressive jab or lead hook could exploit that badly, driving him backward before he has a chance to attack.
Fortuna doesn’t always pay attention to where he’s placing his lead foot. I’ve seen him attack with his lead right foot inside his opponent’s lead left.
He usually gets away with it, because he is swarming. But an opponent with very good footwork could slide back and drill him with a right cross.
Luis Franco developed formidable boxing skills on the Cuban team, but there are major differences in scoring between the pro and amateur ranks.
Professional judges will often score rounds for the more aggressive fighter, even if he is being clearly out landed by a counter-puncher. Franco throws quick, scoring punches, but he didn’t have enough authority on them to slow down Munoz.
He’s going to need to figure out how to sit down on his punches more if he expects to have any hope of holding the aggressive Fortuna at bay.
As a southpaw, Fortuna needs to remain vigilant of his lead foot. When Franco is attempting to circle away and take an angle, Fortuna should fire an aggressive jab and step forward, cutting the Cuban off.
That would be a perfect set up for his left uppercut, which will be a tough punch to score with on a boxer who can pick up punches and adjust as smoothly as Franco.
Fortuna should throw a lot of punches whenever he is in range and he should be ready to punch whenever he moves forward or backward.
His biggest tactical battle in this fight is not going to be avoiding Franco’s punches. It’s going to be matching his footwork and movement.
To win this fight, Luis Franco is going to need to hit Javier Fortuna with enough power to slow the aggressive young fighter down. Professional judges aren’t counting punches. They are deciding which guy they think is doing a better job of beating the other guy up. And if the aggressor is remaining undeterred in his aggression, a lot of judges are going to give him close rounds.
Even if Franco believes he has built up a lead by the latter third of the fight, he needs to resist the temptation to climb on his bicycle and coast home.
As long as Fortuna is coming forward at full speed, Franco is going to need to keep trying to hurt him. As long as Fortuna is able to keep bulling forward, Franco can’t afford to take any rounds for granted.
Javier Fortuna relies a great deal on his athleticism. Last April, Franco’s former Cuban teammate, Guillermo Rigondeaux, gave a textbook-worthy demonstration of how craft can overcome athleticism when he handed Nonito Donaire a boxing lesson.
Luis Franco isn’t Rigondeaux, though. According to Boxrec.com, he actually lost to Rigondeaux in the 2003 Cuban national finals.
This might not be an easy fight for Fortuna, but I think he’ll be able to outwork Franco all night long. I just don’t think Franco will be able to hurt him enough to slow him down.
A win for Franco will make him the next emerging Cuban sensation, a recurring theme in boxing in recent years. But I don’t believe Franco has the same level of physical ability as fighters like Rigondeaux and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
I just don’t think he’s going to be able to keep up with Fortuna.
Fortuna by decision, 97-93.