By Keith Idec
Javier Fortuna expects to make quick work of Luis Franco on Friday night.
The Cuban-born Franco (11-1, 7 KOs) is an accomplished amateur who has lost only a single split decision as a pro, but the undefeated Fortuna predicted he’ll knock out Franco early in their ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” main event in Miami, Okla. Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs), one of boxing’s most dangerous punchers, scored a sensational first-round knockout against Mexico’s Miguel Zamudio (25-2-1, 13 KOs) in his last fight, which ESPN2 also televised April 19 from Atlantic City.
“I have a lot of respect for Franco for having the courage to face me,” Fortuna said, “but I’m going to do to him like I did with Yuandale Evans (first-round TKO) and Cristobal Cruz (second-round TKO) and Miguel Zamudio. It will end the same way. Viewers will love it. I understand to be successful in boxing, you have be very aggressive and that’s what I plan to be.”
The 24-year-old Fortuna, a native of the Dominican Republic, lost the WBA’s interim featherweight title on the scales the day before he destroyed Zamudio. His 10-round fight against Franco — which Fortuna hopes leads to a crack at another former Cuban Olympian, unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa — will be contested at a contracted weight of 128 pounds.
The 31-year-old Franco, a Miami resident, lost his last fight by split decision to Argentina’s Mauricio Javier Munoz (26-4, 12 KOs). Despite dropping that IBF featherweight elimination match, Franco still secured a shot at Australia’s Billy Dib (36-2, 21 KOs, 1 NC), then the IBF’s 126-pound champion.
Franco ultimately pulled out of that bout scheduled for March 1, reportedly over displeasure with his $20,000 purse, and was believed to have retired. Franco claims he never retired and hopes to resurrect his career by upsetting Fortuna in an intriguing, nationally televised junior featherweight fight.
“Franco is tough, with a lot of experience,” Fortuna said. “He’ll try to move away from me in the first few rounds. That’s what I expect. He will try anything to avoid me. My job will be to not let him past the third round. And I plan on doing my job.”
The Fortuna-Franco fight will be the main event of a “Friday Night Fights” doubleheader from Buffalo Run Casino. The telecast is set to start at 9 p.m. ET, with a 10-round welterweight bout that’ll match former welterweight champion Kermit Cintron (33-5-2, 28 KOs), of Reading, Pa., against Jonathan Batista (14-1, 7 KOs), of the Dominican Republic.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.