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Oscar Negrete and Joshua Franco Battle to a Draw at the OC Hangar

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  • Oscar Negrete and Joshua Franco Battle to a Draw at the OC Hangar

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    By David A. Avila

    COSTA MESA, Calif.-A bantamweight battle between NABF titlist Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (pictured in the white trunks) and challenger Joshua “The Professor” Franco was expected to be fierce and after 10 rounds it proved to exceed expectations and ended in a split draw on Thursday.

    Followers of both Negrete (18-1-1, 7 KOs) and Franco (14-1-1, 7 KOs) crowded the OC Hangar and were accompanied by MMA stars Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. All witnessed a back and forth struggle that never waned in intensity and grit.

    It could be one of the Fight of the Year candidates.

    Negrete, 31, who hails from Colombia and trains in Los Angeles, was making the first defense of the title he won over a year ago. He moved up a weight division to challenge for the super bantamweight title but lost to Rey Vargas last December. As a bantamweight he’s undefeated.

    Franco, 22, lives in San Antonio, Texas but trains in nearby Riverside, Calif. under Robert Garcia. His sole loss came last March and this was his second fight since.

    Colombian’s Negrete fights like a machine. He’s a nonstop puncher who fires blows from all directions and angles and when you pause he fires. His style was showcased in the first two rounds as he stormed in front.

    The Texan whose nickname is “the Professor,” showed why his nickname fits as he figured out Negrete’s overwhelming style and solved it with precise uppercuts in the third round. It was like placing a wrench into the gear shaft of a generator as the wave of punches suddenly stopped.

    Franco then attacked the body with left hooks and left uppercuts followed by overhand rights. The blows were hard and precise but Negrete refused to be denied.

    Back and forth the two bantamweights fought furiously like roosters for 10 vicious rounds. Negrete’s eyes were swollen and a cut seemed to emerge above Franco’s eye. But neither fighter refused to submit to weariness. After the final bell the crowd seemed to finally exhale.

    One judge scored it 96-94 for Franco, another 96-94 for Negrete and a third 95-95 to make it a split draw. Negrete retains the NABF bantamweight title. Both fighters exclaimed interest in a rematch

    "I can't complain. It was a close fight," said Franco. "I landed the better shots and hurt him with clean punches. He kept throwing and throwing, which is not what I expected, but I adjusted."

    Negrete felt he was the victor.

    "It was a great fight, but I felt I won," said Negrete. "He threw a lot of punches, but I blocked most of them. To tell the truth, it made me uncomfortable when he threw a lot and then suddenly clinched. He's very talented. I give him my respect. He is a warrior. It ended in a draw, but we'll see if we get the rematch."

    Other Bouts

    Super lightweight prospect Danielito Zorrillo (9-0, 8 KOs) knocked out tough West Virginian Dakota Linger (10-1-2, 6 KOs) in the second round of their clash, but it wasn’t easy. During the first round Zorrillo connected multiple times with perfect rights to the jaw and Linger barely blinked.

    The second round was different.

    Puerto Rico’s Zorrillo changed tactics and began setting up left hooks. Linger never saw those blows and they began arriving like a stream of punches. Linger tried to survive but when Zorrillo unleashed a four-punch combination finishing with a left hook, the West Virginian’s leg buckled and referee Tom Taylor stopped the fight at 2:59 of the second round. Linger might have suffered a broken nose.

    Super featherweight prospects Jousce Gonzalez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) and Ivan Delgado (12-1-2, 5 KOs) started slowly in the first two rounds then unloaded punches the remaining four rounds to a majority draw.

    "It was a good fight, but I won," said Gonzalez. He's a tough fighter, but I felt I landed more shots and controlled the fight at a distance."

    Glendora, California’s Gonzalez was effective at times and always on attack, but South Central L.A.’s Delgado was effective with the counters especially with the left hook. No knockdowns were scored in the extremely close six round fight. One judge saw it 58-56 for Delgado while the other two judges scored it 57-57 for a majority draw.

    "I felt I did enough to win," said Delgado. "He missed most shots, while I landed harder and cleaner punches."

    Puerto Rico’s Carlos Caraballo (9-0, 9 KOs) a southpaw from Guayanilla, dominated the action throughout the bantamweight fight with Mexico’s tough Felipe Reyes (17-22-4, 11 KOs) and earned a stoppage at 1:47 of the sixth round. Though Reyes was never floored he was never close to winning a round. But he proved durable, just not effective. Caraballo worked the body incessantly and was sharp with his punches in gaining the stoppage.

    Photo credit: Al Applerose

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Negrete-Franco was a tremendous action bout and deserves to be put in FOY discussion. I was on the edge of my seat throughout. I wouldn't mind a rematch but also wouldn't mind seeing Franco on the next SuperFly card as it sounds like he is intent on moving down to 115.