By: Sean Crose
“I trained very hard for it,” Joshua Franco tells me. It’s a rainy Tuesday evening. In just over 48 hours, Franco will be stepping into the ring to face fellow bantamweight Oscar Negrede in a bout which will be the main attraction on an ESPN card. “I know,” he adds, “how it’s going to be.” That’s something all professional fighters want to be able to say – that they know how it’s going to be, even if there’s no way to prove it until they step inside the ring. It’s the kind of confidence that an carry an athlete through a career.
Photo Credit: Joshua Franco Twitter Account
Like Franco, Negrede has a single loss on his resume. Also like Franco, Negrede is looking to redeem himself in front of a live televised audience after a single successful comeback bout. In short, this is a big fight for both men. “I’m feeling good,” Franco, the 14-1 bantamweight says, adding that his camp has contained a “lot of sparing.” A pupil of famed cornerman Robert Garcia, Franco knows he’s in serious hands. “When I was first at Oxnard with Robert,” says Franco, “he says ‘you look like you could be a professor.’” Hence the nickname Franco has carried with him throughout his career to date – The Professor.
“He has a lot of knowledge,” Franco says of his trainer. Garcia’s gym in Oxnard, California is also a place where Franco feels comfortable training. “Everybody gets along,” he says. As for Negrede, the 18-1 fighter known as The Jaguar, Franco realizes he’s in with someone much like himself. Still, the native of San Antonio exudes self belief on this rainy Tuesday, while making it clear he’s no one trick pony. “I can box,” he says, “and I can move forward.” Should he emerge victorious on Thursday, the bantamweight division may be Franco’s oyster.
“I’m not looking past Oscar Negrede,” Franco says, adding he knows that “Robert has big plans,” should he walk out the ring the winner Thursday night. For his own part, though, Franco wants to stay on point. “That’s something we’ll talk about after the fight,” he says of the future. Enthralled with boxing from a young age, Franco shows a willingness to take the steps needed to get to the top. And Golden Boy Promotions is happy to guide him along the way. “They have confidence in me,” he says of his promotional team. “They’re moving me very well.”
Franco-Negrete will air at 10 PM eastern time Thursday night on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. It will be broadcast live from the Hangar at California’s OC Fair and Event Center.