By Jason Pribila: ESPN’s Friday Night Fights returned to the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, OK and featured featherweight prospect Javier Fortuna facing off against his toughest opponent to date, Javier Franco.
Boxing fans around the world got to see the exciting Fortuna fight to a 12 round decision victory against Patrick Hyland on the December Pacquiao-Marquez IV undercard. Fortuna rebounded from an uneven performance that night and returned to the ring with a sizzling first round KO earlier this year in Atlantic City. He felt it would take him three rounds to dispatch former 2004 Cuban Olympian Javier Franco on Friday night.
Fighters like Fortuna that possess one punch power are most dangerous in the early rounds. The well-seasoned Franco quickly recognized Fortuna’s approach and remained poised as Fortuna looked to land a big punch early.
Franco soon took advantage of his opponent fighting with his hands at his sides and began to land a jab to the head and body.
With the third round in the rearview mirror, Fortuna soon dropped the flash and began to apply constant pressure. Franco stood his ground and his straighter punches continued to stifle Fortuna’s attack as he fought on even terms in the ring and on the scorecards.
Neither fighter was able to sustain momentum as the fight briskly moved to the final bell. Both fighters raised their arms as the final bell rang, and their fate was now squarely in the hands of the ringside judges.
The official verdict was read, and the scores of 99-91 Franco, 96-94 Fortuna, and 95-95 failed to declare a winner. The score of 99-91 seemed unreasonable for either fighter, yet irate analyst Teddy Atlas turned in an opposite score for Fortuna. Compu Box numbers slightly favored Franco’s (127 of 448 = 28%) to Fortuna’s (109 of 483 = 23%), but more importantly they showed how evenly this fight was fought.
We will see both fighters again, and the draw should not hurt either fighter. In fact, this experience could serve as a great lesson for Fortuna. As his competition continues to improve, he will need to concentrate more on his fundamentals. The explosiveness will come, but it will need to come after he establishes his offense and softens up his foes.
Another chapter of the odd career of former welterweight titlist Kermit Cintron’s kicked off the televised opener. Cintron (34-5-2, 28KO) won a forgettable unanimous decision against the Dominican Republic’s Jonathan Batista (14-2, 7KO). Cintron won by scores of 99-88, 98-89, and 98-89, but they would mislead one to believe the fight was dominating performance.
The truth is that when Cintron was on the rise he would have dispatched of Batista within a few frames. This version of Cintron allowed an inferior fighter continually tie him up, and at times get the better of the action when they decided to trade punches.
If you look at Cintron’s fight record you will see a draw with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, a clear win over Alfredo Angulo, and a chilling second round KO of one-time prospect Walter Matthysse. However, Cintron has never been able to shake the label of being mentally fragile. That label has haunted him since he suffered his first career defeat on an ESPN PPV main event at the potentially plastered hands of Antonio Margarito.
Mental weakness aside, Cintron rebounded to win a title and was once considered the division’s biggest puncher in 2007 according to RING Magazine. Another loss to Margarito, and Cintron never again came close to reaching his full potential.
On this night Cintron threw and landed more punches, but his power punches no longer sizzle. When Batista threw his left hook, he often hit his target, but he was never able to sustain any kind of momentum.
Cintron was credited with a knockdown when a counter left hook caught a charging Batista, whose momentum caused him to trip over Cintron’s leg on the way to the canvas. For a moment, we thought we might be spared a few moments of grappling, when Batista flirted with getting disqualified. He was deducted a point for hitting behind the head, and then another for hitting on the brake. If Batista had been that motivated to fight within the rules he may have had more success.
At this point Cintron has a name that will allow him to be a gate-keeper in the division. However, his fights are so tough on the eyes, it’s hard to imagine any of the major networks shelling out money to place him on a B-side.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at email@example.com. He could also be followed on twitter.com @PribsBoxing.
August 2, 2013