Luis Franco narrowly outpointed Leonilo Miranda via split decision in a featherweight barnburner that was the 10-round main event of ShoBox: The Next Generation show from Santa Ynez, Calif., on Friday.
Franco (9-0, 5 knockouts), a 29-year-old former Cuban amateur star, won by scores of 97-93, 96-94, 94-96., but the bout could have easily gone the other way. Miranda (32-3, 30 KOs), a 28-year-old pressure-fighting puncher from Mexico, took the fight to Franco throughout the fight, sparking furious exchanges in almost every round.
Franco, a 2004 Olympian, fought well in spurts, landing fast power punch combinations whenever he let his hands go. However, the Miami-based Cuban covered up in front of Miranda whenever he wasn’t punching and the Mexican southpaw took advantage of Franco’s stationary defensive posturing by outworking him with relentless body-head combinations.
The two featherweights went toe to toe for the duration of the 10th round.
Franco exhibited an excellent chin in absorbing numerous flush shots from Miranda, but his willingness to exchange with a known puncher and his defensive flaws should be a cause for concern among his handlers, who were hoping to target a world titleholder later in the year. They made need to slow down his development.
Miranda, on the other hand, looked good enough against Franco to have possibly rebounded from back-to-back losses in 2009 despite not getting the nod on the close scorecards.
In the co-featured bout of the Showtime telecast, physically imposing cruiserweight prospect Lateef Kayoed (16-0, 14 KOs) kept his undefeated record with a 10-round unanimous decision over Nicholas Iannuzzi (16-2, 9 KOs), but the 27-year-old Los Angeles-based Nigerian did not look good doing so.
Kayode, who by scores of 98-91, 97-92, 95-94, looked unpolished and at times clueless walking down Iannuzzi with wide single power shots and very little combination punching.
Iannuzzi, a 34-year-old boxer from Tampa, Fla., kept Kayode reaching and off balance with later movement and accurate counter punching in the early rounds of the bout. At the behest of trainer Freddie Roach, Kayode stepped up his pressure in the middle rounds and appeared to rock Iannuzzi a few times. However, the huge underdog often fired back and occasionally rocked Kayode with left hooks.
Kayode took the final round with constant pressure but the two exchanged punches at the bell. Iannuzzi landed a shot after the bell, which prompted referee Raul Caiz Jr. to penalize him one point immediately after the fight had ended.