Luis Franco brought into the ring with him a loaded amateur background – he was a member of the 2004 Cuban Olympic squad, after all.
The less experienced Javier Fortuna brought an undefeated record and several YouTube clip-worthy knockouts to their 10-round main event.
In a mauling bout at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla., the two mostly wrestled and hugged their way to a split-draw.
Franco utilized his superior knowledge and technical ability to frustrate Fortuna all throughout the fight. Fortuna was outlanded, but was the one landing the bigger blows.
The most exciting part of the fight came in the first round, as the lights went off halfway through. That prompted a delay to the action. Though the two would return to fighting each other minutes later, the action didn’t hardly return.
Franco used his legs to setup a wild Fortuna for well-timed counters. Fortuna tried out stablemate Sergio Martinez’s loose style in an effort to get Franco to engage, which worked at times.
Most of the fight saw Franco tie up Fortuna, and that is where he did his best work. In the clinch, Franco was able to maul Fortuna and land punches at a decent clip. Referee Gary Ritter seemed happy to oblige Franco, often letting him get away with this for ten or fifteen seconds at a time.
Fortuna was constantly stalking Franco, and it seemed towards the end it was paying off. Franco began to stand and trade a little bit more in the late rounds, sometimes landing his best punches of the night. Fortuna would usually land the heavier shots in each round, but was largely outboxed by the classier Franco.
With the fight up for grabs, neither guy really seized the initiative in the tenth round. When the judges read the cards, which were all over the place, the two hugged it out after the announcement of a split draw. Hugging it out is what they did for a majority of their thirty minutes in the ring, so it only seemed a natural conclusion to the fight.
The scores were wacky. Jerry Griffin had it 96-94 for Fortuna, a reasonable score. Chris Ritter had it 99-91 for Franco, which seemed a bit too generous to the Cuban. David Sutherland’s 95-95 score ruled the day, preventing the outliers from ruining the night. ESPN’s Teddy Atlas somehow had a mindboggling 99-91 score for Fortuna. The Facebook scorers had it more in line with Ritter’s odd 99-91 verdict.
It was a very strange night, not just because of the power outage.
Fortuna has turned in a couple of middling performances in two of his biggest opportunities. Against Patrick Hyland on pay-per-view in December, Fortuna was expected to dismantle his untested opponent. That didn’t happen, and the heat he had generated from previous brutal knockouts on ESPN2 had been reduced to a lukewarm response.
Fortuna regained some of that fire when he nearly dismembered overmatched Miguel Zamudio on Friday Night Fights earlier this year, but that will certainly be lost after tonight’s performance.
In a hard to watch co-main event, former welterweight titleholder Kermit Cintron (34-5-2, 28 KOs) won a ten-round unanimous decision over the unheralded Jonathan Batista (14-2, 7 KOs) in what was a lackluster affair.
One of the more physically talented welterweights of the past decade, Cintron was looking to get himself back in the mix. He fought tentatively, and his opponent found a home for wild swinging left hooks often in the early going.
Cintron could have won the fight by simply popping a jab, but was far from active. Lots of holding and clinching throughout the fight and Batista was on the receiving end of several warnings the whole way.
In the ninth, Cintron scored a questionable knockdown at the end of the round to tip the momentum his way. Cintron landed a punch and then Batista missed his follow-up, falling towards the mat. Cintron hit Batista on the way down and was credited with the dubious knockdown.
In the tenth round, Batista was docked a point on two separate occasions. The bout, however, wasn’t even close according to the judges at ringside. Though most observers on Twitter felt it a close fight other than the knockdown and points taken away, the judges saw it 99-88 and 98-89 twice.