By Chris Cella
In this week’s edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, coming live from the Texas Station Casino in Las Vegas, former super flyweight titlist Drian “Gintong Kamao” Francisco (24-1-1, 19 KO) will meet Chris “The Hitman” Avalos (21-2, 16 KO) in a 10-round contest as they go to battle for vacant WBO NABO title. The action will begin live on ESPN2 tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern.
Francisco captured the interim WBA world super flyweight title in November of 2010 with a 10th round knockout victory over Duangpetch Kokietgym, but in his first defense of the title lost a unanimous decision. But in his last four outings he resumed his winning ways, with his most recent being a 5th round stoppage win over Javier Gallo last November.
“I saw Avalos’ video on YouTube and he looks like a tough opponent,” Francisco said. “I’m here in America to get a world title belt. There’s a lot of opportunity here and that’s why I train here.”
At 23-years-old Avalos has already established himself as a viable contender within the division, and has the ring experience of a veteran. His biggest win came last August when he won a unanimous decision over the then undefeated Yenifel Vicente, and will be looking to move one step closer to a potential title fight with a win over Francisco.
“I’ve studied Francisco and see that he relies a lot on his power, and a lot of his power comes from a lot of wide shots,” Avalos said. “What I plan on doing is keeping him on the outside, jab a lot, box him and catch him with combinations down the middle and just be cautious of the overhand right and left hooks.”
This battle should be a close fight as both super flyweights have power but also the patience in waiting for an opening to develop rather than forcing the issue and leaving themselves vulnerable for the counter. Francisco needs the win to show that he can still compete with the young guys of the division while the stage is set for Avalos to line himself up for a shot at the hardware.
The co-feature of the night highlights undefeated junior middleweight Glen “Jersey Boy” Tapia (18-0, 10 KO) as he bids to maintain his unblemished record. Tapia will face the also undefeated Abie “The Sun City Warrior” Han (19-0, 12 KO).
Live coverage of this week’s edition of FNF begins at 10 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.