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Could RocNation turn Daniel Franco into a star?

The California prospect might be a promoter’s dream, but does he have the goods to turn those dreams into a reality?

Andre Ward v Alexander Brand Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

I know exactly why RocNation signed Daniel Franco (14(9)-0-3). The kid is good-looking, cuts a great promo, and entertains in the ring. If Franco succeeds, it won’t be hard to sell tickets.

Franco might be a promoter’s dream but in order to become a star, he’ll need more. Specifically, he’ll need to convince the world that he has the goods.

He’s obviously still a prospect, but is there anything right now that makes him stand out among other featherweight prospects?

Division

Let’s put the featherweight division in perspective. Despite Vasyl Lomachenko and Nicholas Walters leaving, this division is packed with talent. According to BoxRec, the top 10 in the division are:

  1. Carl Frampton (23(14)-0)
  2. Lee Selby (23(8)-1)
  3. Leo Santa Cruz (32(18)-1-1)
  4. Jesus Andres Cuellar (28(21)-1)
  5. Oscar Valdez (21(19)-0)
  6. Simpiwe Vetyeka (29(17)-3)
  7. Josh Warrington (24(5)-0)
  8. Oscar Escandon (25(17)-2)
  9. Joseph Diaz (22(13)-0)
  10. Gary Russell Jr. (27(16)-1)

A few veterans could give the top 10s some fits at any time. Jonathan Barros (41(22)-4-1) just upset Satoshi Hosono (32(21)-3-1) last month in an IBF eliminator. Eric Hunter (21(11)-4) recently gave Lee Selby fits, and managed to knock Selby down for the first time in his career. Cristian Mijares (55(26)-8-2) might be shopworn, but he recently defeated unbeaten prospect Andres Gutierrez (35(25)-1-1), thus adding new relevancy to Mijares’ career.

There’s a host of prospects nearing title contention. Josh Warrington and Joseph Diaz are already in the top 10, but Mark Magsayo (15(11)-0) and Isaac Dogboe (15(9-0) should be ascending upwards within the year.

A few prospects might take longer to develop. Isaac Lowe (13(5)-0-1) may be a Commonwealth titlist, but he’s yet to defend it — and he’s not that far removed from his draw to Ryan Doyle (13(7)-1-1). Hairon Socarras (14(10)-0-1) drew in his last fight to a journeyman with a losing record. Last April, John Moralde (17(8)-0) was knocked down by a journeyman, and squeaked by with an SD.

Looking at it objectively, it might take Franco a few years before he fights for a legitimate world title. Quite frankly, they should give him time because he needs more notable names on his resume.

Résumé

BoxRec currently ranks Franco at #120 in the featherweight division. He’s currently undefeated but it hasn’t come easy.

Since his debut in 2010, Franco has three draws on his record. They are to Jose Sandoval, Jesus Sandoval, and Alberto Torres. Cumulatively, they were 8-4-2 when they faced Franco. Another cause of concern is Franco’s MD to journeyman Hector Garcia, who was 5-3-2 when he faced Franco. I didn’t see this fight, and the score cards had quite a bit of variance: one judge had it 79-74, another 76-76.

What about wins? Well the truth is, all of them come against journeymen fighters who mostly lack experience. His best victory was against German Meraz, a journeyman who’s fought a who’s who of decent prospects but almost always loses against them.

None of this is a slam against Franco because the truth is, he’s fighting a decent opponent this Thursday in Derrick Murray (13(5)-0-1), a prospect quite similar to Franco. If he manages to win, that answers several questions about him.

Style

Obviously, RocNation wouldn’t sign him if they didn’t see potential, and Franco can be quite fun to watch. He’s a come forward fighter who doesn’t like taking a step back. He throws a mean jab to the body, and he knows how to deliver a crisp uppercut.

Franco does his best work when he moves his opponents to the ropes. It’s here where he unleashes a decent combo of left hook to the body, right hook to the body, left uppercut to the head.

Unfortunately, that also means he can be hit. One punch that Franco tends to eat again and again is the straight right when he comes into range. This is because he tends to move his gloves up and down in a particular rhythm just as he’s about to throw a jab. Franco doesn’t seem to mind eating a few punches, though, as long as he works the body — all the better to cut his opponents down like a tree.

If I were Franco’s opponent, I would work on a plan to keep the fight at the center of the ring. He does well when moving his opponents to the ropes, but what will happen with an opponent that is always moving laterally, and doesn’t give Franco time to sit down on his punches?

Synopsis

As of yet, I’m not going to predict Franco’s career trajectory. I won’t even guess until after his match with Derrick Murray. If he beats Murray, he’s probably worth keeping tabs on. If not, he’ll probably give any up-and-comer a good test.

I will say this much, though. If Franco can move to title contention, RocNation should have an easy time promoting him. Franco is handsome, funny, and articulate — and fights in a fan-friendly style.