By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
MIAMI, Okla. —
Luis Franco didn’t seem too rattled by his opponent’s claims.
As Javier Fortuna told the media he expected an easy victory, Franco sarcastically shook his hands in fear.
Moments later, Franco locked his eyes on Fortuna as the two boxers made a couple of quick exchanges in Spanish. Eventually, the promoters had to separate the two featherweight fighters.
The lively press conference helped set the stage for a seven-fight ESPN Friday Night Fights boxing card tonight at Buffalo Run Casino. Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) against Franco (11-1, 7 KOs) is the featured fight on the televised portion of the card that will run from 8-10 p.m. on ESPN2. The doors will open at 7 p.m., and two undercard fights are slated to take place before the TV matches begin at 8.
“Fortuna versus Franco looks like it be an unforgettable fight,” promoter Leon Margules said in a news release. “Fortuna is so strong it’s scary and Franco is unbelievably fast with a great chin. Something’s got to give and it’ll be a cliffhanger to see what happens. What we all already know is that it’s going to be a fantastic fight.”
Despite the hype surrounding the fight, Fortuna, the former interim WBA featherweight champion, showed little respect to Franco.
“I can guarantee you that I will win tomorrow by knockout,” Fortuna said through a translator. “I will beat him up. I will knock him out, and then I will go after the next.”
Fortuna’s knockout claim does have some merit. The 23-year-old world-ranked contender from the Dominican Republic won his last fight by knocking out Mexico’s Miguel Zamudio at the 1:08 mark of the first round.
Franco, 31, from Cuba, also is a contender in the 126-pound division. He competed in the 2004 Olympics and is coming off a split decision loss in an IBF World Championship Eliminator to Argentina’s Mauricio Javier Munoz.
The co-main event, which is scheduled to begin at 8:05 p.m. will be a 10-round welterweight fight between former world champion Kermit Cintron (33-5-2) and Jonathan Batista (14-1, 7 KOs).
Cintron, 33, of Houston, has earned victories over the likes of Alfredo Angulo and Lovemore Ndou and also recorded a draw with current middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
Batista, of the Dominican Republic, enters with only one loss. The defeat was by decision to Emmanuel Lartei Lartey.
If time allows, ESPN2 also will broadcast a junior welterweight bout between Juan Carlos Abreu and Puro Pairol, as well as a super featherweight fight between Marco Hall and Cody Fuller.
Tickets range from $25-$60 and are available online at www.buffalorun.com or by calling 918-542-9400.
Tonight’s card is the latest of numerous televised boxing events in Miami. However, promoter Tony Holden said there is more to come.
“We’re going to step it up more,” he said. “Boxing has been very good to us. We’re going to bring in even more televised boxing. Bigger shows.”