Joshua Franco watched with mixed emotions from ringside as Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez threw down for a third time.
Mexico’s Estrada was previously tied to a WBA title consolidation clash with San Antonio’s Franco, as the two were due to meet earlier this summer. The fight eventually fell through, with Estrada stripped of his version of the WBA 115-pound title for failure to defend. Franco was upgraded from secondary to full title status, which allowed him to pursue the unification bout with WBO champ Kazuto Ioka on December 31 at Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Still, he couldn’t help but think how a fight with Estrada would have panned out while in the house to watch the division’s lineal champ prevail over Gonzalez earlier this month at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
“I really wanted it to be Estrada but it just didn’t happen,” Franco told BoxingScene.com. “Watching that (third) fight with Chocolatito, I was just matching my style with theirs.
“If I get to fight either one of them, it would be a great fight for the fans. To all the 115-pound fighters, I’m coming. Let me collect this second belt and then I’m coming for the rest of you.”
Estrada (44-3, 28KOs) regained the vacant WBC title with his repeat win over Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (51-4, 41KOs). Ironically, the belt was made available by Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez (17-0, 11KOs), Franco’s younger brother who won the strap earlier this year and defended twice but has since dropped back down to flyweight.
The win and the high profile fight justified Estrada’s decision to let go of the WBA ‘Super’ title. The move came at the expense of Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs), whose inactive period was extended by another four months as a result though he landed on his feet with an equally significant fight. It means having to travel to the other side of the world, as Franco has been in Tokyo since mid-December in preparation for his year-ending collision with Ioka (29-2, 15KOs).
The winner of Ioka-Franco will present an attractive option to Estrada, who was permitted a voluntary title defense by the WBC for his next outing. Franco is fully focused on taking care of present-day business but also can’t help but think about a future fight that would help settle up a piece of his past.
“It’s hard especially with the way Estrada and Chocolatito performed, it made me want to get in there with them right now,” Franco admitted. “I gotta focus on Ioka right here. I can’t get there without getting past this guy.
“But hopefully all goes well for me and then I can look forward to those big fights with Estrada and Chocolatito.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox