Michigan native Jermaine Franklin returned home Saturday in front of his hometown crowd hoping to show that boxing’s glamour division could have another prospect to keep an eye on moving forward.
Franklin (20-0, 13 KOs) dropped Pavel Sour (11-2, 6 KOs) in the sixth and tenth rounds and scored a unanimous decision victory in a sloppy fight by the scores of 98-91, 98-90 and 97-91 Saturday at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Michigan.
The 25-year-old Franklin, a former 2014 National Golden Gloves champion with only 35 amateur fights, was looking for an impressive performance following two sub par wins over Jerry Forrest and Rydell Booker earlier this year, but didn’t necessarily get the convincing and star-in-the-making win he was looking for.
The Saginaw born-and-raised Franklin, who was fighting in Michigan for just the second time in career, used skills, youth and power to overcome a 3 ½ inch height disadvantage to stop a tough opponent who was 11 years his senior.
Franklin outlanded Sour 147 to 109 in total punches, and came out strong in the first minute, working his left hand and right cross and staggering an unbalanced Sour a couple of times, easily winning the round.
Sour showed unsteady feet in round 2, flailing across the ring from a Franklin body shot. Both heavyweights were loading up on shots, looking for the one-hitter quitter and Franklin ended up doing better work in a more competitive round.
Sour, a 36-year-old Czech Republic contender who turned pro at 34 and only lost to former Olympian Filip Hrgovic, was making his United States debut. In fact, the fight was the reason for his first visit to the U.S., and in the third round, he showed a better version of himself by making Franklin uncomfortable in a rough and rugged round. The round also ran nearly one minute too long because the timekeeper failed to ring the bell after three-minute mark.
Franklin appeared frustrated throughout the fourth round, as Sour continued momentum in a close round. Franklin’s best moment was a counter right hand over the top that landed on Sour’s skull.
In the fifth round, Sour used the small ring to walk down Franklin, holding him and landing sneaky uppercuts and body shots. Franklin kept his composure in the ugly round, and landed several effective jabs and counters.
Halfway through the fight, Franklin landed 69 total punches compared to 55 by Sour, who was the busier fighter throwing punches.
The best moment of the fight came in the sixth round when Franklin rocked Sour with a counter right hand for a knockdown as his counterpart was throwing a lazy jab.
Franklin started the seventh stanza looking to continue the momentum, and he successfully did so by staving off Sour’s sloppy offense and outworking him.
By the eighth round, Sour started showing serious fatigue as Franklin easily outworked him with power shots, a trend that continued throughout the ninth and tenth rounds.
In the tenth and final round, Sour was dropped again from a right hand as he flew back into the ropes, and then sat on the canvas. He survived the round, and a cut, as Franklin cruised to a victory after a few tough moments in the middle of the fight.
The billing was the opening attraction on the Showtime telecast and marked Franklin’s third consecutive appearance on the network this year.
If he wants to become a TV staple and eventually the next American heavyweight star, he’ll have to win matches moving forward more convincingly.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.