Javier Fortuna, Luis Franco Fight To Bizarre Draw On ESPN2

The scores were all over the place for the judges assessing Javier Fortuna vs. Luis Franco on ESPN2's Friday Night Fights, which was fitting, considering how everyone else in the world had such wild scores. One judge saw it 99-91 for Franco; ESPN2's Teddy Atlas had it 99-91 Fortuna. The truth was somewhere in between, which is why the other two judges' scores of 96-94 Fortuna and 95-95 rendered the bout a just split draw.

Up is down lately in boxing — bouts that don't figure to be all that enjoyable in the ring like Adrien Broner-Paulie Malignaggi produce fine action, while Fortuna-Franco, one of the better FNF main events of a strong stretch on paper, ended up dreary. More than a few fans wished the power outage that cloaked the bout in darkness in the 1st had lasted indefinitely. There were a number of variables to how one scored each round, which were magnified by how few of the rounds had much happening. Franco was boxing, moving, defending and scoring. Fortuna was landing the harder punches and sometimes pressing ineffectively. I scored it 96-94 for Fortuna myself, but not with much confidence.

Fortuna earned a lot of buzz with his frequent Knockout of the Year candidates, but his engine has stalled. He wasn't terribly impressive against Patrick Hyland on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV undercard, and he sure wasn't against Franco. It's easier to notice how dirty he is, too, when he's not scoring highlight reel KOs — most of his best punches in this fight were enabled by having his other hand around the back of Franco's head. He's arrived in the featherweight top 10 but at this rate it's hard to imagine a long stay. If this was a better outcome for Franco it's because his own career had stalled with a loss and a prolonged ring absence, so fighting on relatively even terms with an authentic contender is an upgrade. It's not a fight that did either man big favors, though.

On the undercard, beyond done former welterweight/junior middleweight contender Kermit Cintron added another entry to his frustrating career with a unanimous decision victory over Jonathan Batista. Cintron used to be a flaky but talented knockout artist, but now he can only score knockdowns against green fighters by tripping them, as he did in the 8th in a flubbed call by the ref. Batista was docked two points in the last round for hitting on the break and holding, yet somehow Cintron was never docked for holding. It was like someone told Cintron, "You can come back from the Adrian Granados draw and Saul Alvarez loss — all you need to do is hold more." It was a clinchfest from start to finish and it was more frustrating than Cintron falling out of the ring against Paul Williams, the fluky draw against Sergio Martinez that should have been a loss two times over, or any of Cintron's other odd lowlights. We can do without Cintron appearing on TV again anytime soon, alas.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.