by Ronnie Nathanielsz
World rated Drian Francisco is training hard at the gym of former heavyweight and one-time partner of Freddie Roach, Justin Fortune, for a scheduled bout on the undercard of the WBO flyweight unification title fight between WBO champion Brian Viloria and WBA champion Hernan “Tyson” Marquez on November 17 at the LA Sports Arena.
Although Zanfer Promotions Fernando Beltran is still reportedly finalizing details with Francisco’s opponent, initial indications were that the Filipino would face bantamweight Julio Ceja in a super bantamweight eliminator.
The undefeated 19 year old bantamweight Ceja from Mexico has a record of 21-0 with 19 knockouts. He won the IBF Latino bantamweight title with a 3rd round TKO of Genaro Camargo last July 28.
While Ceja’s name has been mentioned in a possible title eliminator IBF Championship Committee chairman Lindsey Tucker told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard last October 16 “I have not seen any request involving Drian Francisco.”
No matter who his opponent will be Francisco is focused on his training and in an interview with Jayson Otamias for the Standard, praised Fortune for his “advanced technical training.” Francisco continues to jog at Griffith Park every morning.
Francisco said the advantage of working with Fortune is that “he is a conditioning trainer, a former boxer who also trained Manny Pacquiao in the past” but that his Filipino trainer Benny De La Pena would join him in Los Angeles “close to the fight date.”
The stylish Francisco who at one stage of his career was being compared to two division world champion Luisito Espinosa said he had sparred twice, going seven rounds each time in a Mexican gym.”
His second sparring session was against a taller Mexican featherweight and went well.
Francisco said his condition is “much better now because Fortune’s conditioning program was a big help. My body, legs and muscles are much stronger.” He emphasized that his daily regimen and his focus on his upcoming fight will be helpful.
Although his weight is around 130 pounds at present, Francisco said he doesn’t think he’ll have a problem making the super bantamweight limit.
The 29 year old Francisco has a record of 23-1-1 with 18 knockouts and is coming off a sensational first round knockout of Mexican Jose Carlos Vargas in Mexico.
Francisco earlier won the IBF Pan Pacific super bantamweight title with a 1st round knockout of Pichitchai Twins Gym last April 14.