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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Javier Fortuna-Luis Franco agreed to

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Featherweights Javier Fortuna and Luis Franco, both promising fighters with tremendous speed, have hit recent bumps in their careers. But one of them can leave the problems behind with a win over the other.

Promoters Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing and Sampson Lewkowicz of Sampson Boxing have announced Fortuna and Franco will meet in the main event of a "Friday Night Fights" card on Aug. 2 (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes) at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla.

"Fortuna is so strong it's scary, and Franco is unbelievably fast with a great chin," Margules said Monday.

"It's the irresistible force against the immovable object. Something's got to give, and it'll be a cliffhanger to see what happens."

Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs), 23, a southpaw from the Dominican Republic, was stripped of a featherweight belt for failing to make weight for his first defense after winning the vacant interim title by decision against Patrick Hyland in December on the Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV undercard.

Fortuna was 126.6 pounds when the weight limit was 126 for his April 19 fight with Miguel Zamudio, which went ahead anyway with only Zamudio eligible to win the belt. Fortuna, however, scored a pulverizing first-round knockout, leaving the belt vacant and Fortuna vowing to remain at featherweight.

Miami resident Franco (11-1, 7 KOs), 31, a 2004 Cuban Olympian who defected and turned pro in 2009, was scheduled to challenge Billy Dib for his world title on March 1 before abruptly announcing his retirement a month before the bout. Franco was unhappy with his $20,000 purse for the fight, stopped training, pulled out of the bout and told his handlers he was giving up the sport.

While Dib wound up facing replacement opponent Evgeny Gradovich and losing the belt on a split decision, few believed that Franco would stay retired. And now, just a few months later, Franco is back to face Fortuna -- and for less money ($15,000) than he would have made to fight Dib in the world title fight.

In the scheduled 10-round welterweight co-feature, Jonathan Batista (14-1, 7 KOs) of the Dominican Republic will face former titleholder Kermit Cintron (33-5-2, 28 KOs) of Puerto Rico, who is 1-3-1 in his past five fights.

"Kermit Cintron is looking to become a champion again, but he will not get past my guy, Batista," Lewkowicz said. "I have carefully put together a wave of boxers from the Dominican, and they are all now coming of age. This victory over Cintron will be the first of many big-name wins for Batista."