Undefeated heavyweight prospect Jermaine Franklin Jr., escaped with a narrow split-decision victory over Jerry Forrest in the main event Friday night on ShoBox: The New Generation from the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.
Two of the judges scored the fight 97-93 for Franklin with the third judge seeing it 96-95 in favor of Forrest.
The 25-year-old Franklin (19-0, 13 KOs) of Saginaw, Mich., was the busier fighter on the night with 46.6 punches per round to Forrest's 38.2, and held the advantage in going to the body (40-5 in connects). Franklin also held a 94-76 advantage in power connects against the more relaxed Forrest, who was in better physical shape than his opponent.
“I didn’t think it was that close,” said Franklin, widely regarded as the top American heavyweight prospect who was the 2014 National Golden Gloves Champion. “I won more rounds. I think you could give him a couple rounds, but it wasn’t that close. Even when they said split decision I knew it wasn’t that close. I wasn’t worried.”
All three ShoBox commentators had Forrest winning the fight. Hall of Fame boxing analysts Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood both had Forrest winning by a score of 97-93. Former two-time world champion and ShoBox commentator Raul Marquez had Forrest winning, 98-92
“Jerry Forrest deserved the decision, which he did not get,” said Farhood.
“You heard the crowd. I don’t have to say what I think of the decision,” said Forrest, from Newport News, Va., who had his 18-bout winning streak snapped in the loss. “Look what the crowd thought. He missed a lot of shots, but he threw a lot of shots and they gave it to him. He was supposed to win.”
Forrest, whose two career losses came to Gerald Washington and Michael Hunter, boasted on Thursday that he didn’t care about being the ‘B-side’ fighter and wasn’t afraid of Franklin.
“My big chance on SHOWTIME was well deserved and I proved I belong in this league,” Forrest said. “I said before the fight that I have already been doing this for years. Now more people know about it. My people knew what was up already.”
Franklin gave himself a B-minus grade in his second straight lackluster performance on SHOWTIME. “I got better at doing certain stuff, but I was trying to kill him too much,” he said. “I said I was going to fight my fight, but I was loading up. I got taken out of my game plan. I still have stuff to work on. He surprised me a little coming out that fast. I watched tape on him and he started slow and I wasn’t expecting his hands to be that fast, so he surprised me a little bit with that.”
Forrest said he was proud of his performance. “I could have done a little more,” he said. “I could have thrown the left a little more; stepped around a little more. He caught me with some good right hands. I didn’t think he was as fast as he was. I mostly got caught with head butts.”
Forrest said he stuck with his game plan and started fast. “I knew he was a busy fighter, so my plan was to start out faster than him,” he said. “I had to match him, shot-for-shot and you saw the scorecards. I did.”
Forrest goes by the nickname “Slugger” and is trained by Anthony Chase. “I’m a full-time worker. I work in the shipyard,” said Forrest, “I had four weeks of training camp and did this. Next fight, I’ll do a full eight weeks and I’ll be unstoppable.”