by Tim Harrison
Friday Night Fights on ESPN2 returns to the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma this Friday, August 2, when Javier Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) takes on former Cuban amateur standout Luis Franco (11-1, 7 KOs) in a ten-round featherweight bout. In the televised co-feature, former welterweight world title holder Kermit Cintron (33-5-2, 28 KOs) takes on little-known Jonathan Batista (14-1, 7 KOs) in a ten-round welterweight bout. The fights will be televised live at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT on ESPN2.
Undefeated featherweight Javier Fortuna is coming off a one-round destruction of Miguel Zamudio in April. Fortuna lost his Interim WBA featherweight title when he failed to make weight, but he wasn’t at all sluggish from his weight struggles, needing only 68 seconds to dispatch his overmatched opponent. Fortuna is fast making a name for himself with the help of Friday Night Fights’ airwaves. His one-round KO over prospect Yuandale Evans, as well as a two-round drubbing of former featherweight world titlist, Cristobal Cruz, were both shown on Friday Night Fights. Most, however, probably saw his 12-round decision win over undefeated prospect Patrick Hyland on the undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez’s win over Manny Pacquiao last December.
Former Cuban amateur Luis Franco is on the fast track to a world title shot, as is the case with most Cuban fighters who defect well into their twenties and sometimes their thirties. Franco was faced with his first title shot in March, but he turned down the opportunity to face former IBF featherweight titlist Billy Dib because of the money involved. Dib would go on to lose his title to Evgeny Gradovich, while Franco would sit on the shelf until now. Franco defeated a much more experienced Wilton Hilario in only his seventh professional fight. In his last fight, Franco dropped a debatable decision to Mauricio Munoz last October.
The co-feature will pit Kermit Cintron against Jonathan Batista, and oh, how the once (almost) mighty have fallen. Cintron is only a few years removed from fighting for world titles on HBO. The last three years of Cintron’s career have been a prime example of a fighter who frequently loses interest in his own best interests. Since his surprising win over Alfredo Angulo in 2009, Cintron has gone 2-3-1. He forced Juliano Ramos to quit on his stool in his first fight after defeating Angulo, and followed that performance up with his infamous tumble out of the ring against Paul Williams, resulting in a technical decision loss. After about 14 months off, Cintron returned and was upset by Carlos Molina before outworking Antwone Smith the following month. Cintron would go on to get blasted out by Saul Alvarez in November of 2011. In his last outing, which also took place on Friday Night Fights, Cintron was outworked and outhustled by Adrian Granados, but was gifted a split draw.
In Jonathan Batista, Cintron has a potential confidence-building opponent. Batista is lacking any real notable wins on his resume, and lost to the first person he faced with a real winning record; Ghana’s Emmanuel Lartey. This is a make-or-break fight for Cintron. Against Granados, Cintron looked disinterested in being there and was beaten to the punch all night. If he turns in a repeat performance against an unproven prospect, this might be his last shot.
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