By Keith Idec
Jerry Forrest exposed Jermaine Franklin’s flaws Friday night.
Franklin still escaped with a suspect split-decision victory over Forrest, a patient, skilled southpaw who was more accurate and better defensively throughout their 10-round heavyweight fight in Tacoma, Washington. Despite Forrest’s performance, judges Alan Krebs and Tim Wood somehow scored seven rounds for Franklin, who won 97-93 on their cards.
The third judge, Hunter Walton, scored their fight for Forrest, 96-95, at Emerald Queen Casino.
The 25-year-old Franklin, of Saginaw, Michigan, remains undefeated (19-0, 13 KOs). But he definitely didn’t distinguish himself as America’s top heavyweight prospect, as he and his promoter, Dmitriy Salita, have claimed.
According to Showtime’s unofficial punch stats, Forrest landed 14 more overall punches (121-of-382 to 107-of-466). Showtime credited Franklin for landing more power shots (94-of-260 to 76-of-216), but counted more jabs for Forrest (45-of-166 to 13-of-206).
Before falling to Franklin, Forrest (25-3, 19 KOs), of Newport News, Virginia, hadn’t lost in five years.
Former contender Gerald Washington knocked out Forrest in the second round of their August 2013 bout. Contender Michael Hunter (17-1, 12 KOs) defeated Forrest by unanimous decision in his Forrest’s following fight, an eight-rounder, but he had won 18 consecutive bouts before facing Franklin.
Their fight appeared at the very least close heading into the final round Friday night.
Sensing he needed a knockout, Franklin tried to land fight-altering punches during that 10th round. Forrest deftly avoided those shots, though, until they spent the final few seconds winging wild shots at one another.
Franklin landed a good right hand with about 1:45 left in the ninth round. Forrest clipped Franklin with a counter left several seconds later.
A right hook by Forrest caught Franklin with just over a minute remaining in the eighth round. Forrest followed up with two lefts to the side of Franklin’s head as Franklin attempted to hold him.
Forrest connected with a solid left hand with just under 30 seconds to go in the seventh round.
Forrest continued to make Franklin miss with an array of punches throughout the sixth round. When Franklin held his right arm near the 30-second mark of the sixth, Forrest landed three left hands to the side of Franklin’s head.
Franklin trapped Forrest against the ropes in the final minute of the fifth round. He couldn’t capitalize, though, as he missed wildly with a right hand and allowed Forrest to move the action back to the center of the ring.
A straight left hand by Forrest connected with just under 1:40 to go in the fourth round. Forrest snuck in a left uppercut later in the fourth, right after Franklin spun him around, into the ropes, and threw a right hand.
The action slowed during the third round, compared to the exchanges in the first and second rounds. A straight right hand by Franklin landed flush with just over a minute to go in the second round.
Franklin initiated what became an entertaining exchange early in the first round. Franklin and Forrest landed hard shots as they fired away at close range, but Forrest’s left uppercut and two lefts to the side of Franklin’s head were the most noticeable blows.
Franklin lost his mouthpiece during that 30-second sequence, which caused a brief break in the action.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.