Two red-hot prospects take part in the Planet Hollywood Casino fight card that should not be missed if you’re the kind of fan that likes to be in the know.

First, there’s female featherweight Bay area’s Ana “Hurricane” Julaton in a four round bout and then there’s Riverside, California’s Michael “Lil Warrior” Franco in a six round bantamweight bout.

Both bear watching.

Julaton, 27, finds herself fighting in less than two weeks after knocking out her last opponent. Now she’ll be trying to make it back-to-back but may not find it as easy when she meets Arizona’s undefeated bantamweight Johana Mendez (3-0, 1 KOs).

The tall Filipina fighter has been helped along by Manny Pacquiao and is trained by Freddie Roach. She’s a very aggressive fighter who likes to move forward. She’s quite a paradox.

When you speak to Julaton she’s articulate, sincere and very hospitable to everyone she meets. Inside the ring she’s like a bulldozer who only wants to stamp out the competition. In fact, for a while she despised the sport of boxing.

“I learned boxing to teach it,” said Julaton (4-0, 1 KOs), who teaches martial arts in Berkeley, California. “I hated boxing.”

Slowly she began to appreciate the finer aspects of the sport and soon began to like sparring. So she was entered in amateur boxing and quickly found her calling.

But her folks did not like her life choice until she turned professional.

“They would ask me where I wanted to go with amateur boxing, what’s the use,” Julaton says. “After I became a professional they began to accept it.”

Later, Julaton would meet Pacquiao and her family loved boxing even more. The new pound for pound champion has helped whenever he can.

“He’s been a great inspiration,” said Julaton, who turns 28 on Saturday the day of her fight. “Once he helped me get a fight.”

The featherweight prospect has beaten two solid fighters in Rita Valentini and Carley Batey. Now she faces an undefeated fighter like herself.

“I know she has a good amateur background,” Julaton says of Mendez.

Julaton knocked out Salina Jordan last Thursday June 26 in the first round. She expects a different fighter this time.

“My goal is to be a world champion,” she says. “I feel it’s the only thing I can give in return.”


Michael Franco (11-0, 8 KOs) has been stirring up interest with his two-fisted power in a 118-pound body. He can just hit.

Franco started as a junior lightweight but as he began to train more it was evident that he belonged in a lower weight class. First he dropped to featherweight and soon dropped to bantamweight.

He’s simply a very strong fighter.

Those who saw him beat a good fighter in Ernie Marquez last March at the Home Depot Center left convinced he might be a future champion.

Lately, Riverside, California has begun showcasing some great fighters. Franco is yet another boxer with good potential from the area known as the Inland Empire.

Franco faces Juan Javier Lagos (15-10-2) at the Planet Hollywood Casino on Saturday. He’s ready to move to bigger fights if he can pass this test.

Lagos is a former flyweight contender who’s battled several prominent fighters to the distance, including Giovani Segura, Jorge Arce and Brian Viloria. He’s moving up in weight to see if it makes a difference for him.

It should be an interesting test between Franco’s raw power and Lagos experience.

Boxing chatter

La Habra’s Enrique Ornelas meets Daryl Salmon in a middleweight showdown on Friday in Texas. Ornelas was scheduled to fight Jeff Lacy in July on the Shane Mosley-Zab Judah under card, but the entire fight card was scrapped due to Judah’s injury.

Former lightweight champion Juan Diaz is set to meet Australia’s Michael Katsidis on Sept. 6 in Houston, Texas. Both fighters are coming off losses and need a victory to get back in the title mix.

Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez is moving up in weight to meet Cuba’s Joel Casamayor on Sept. 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, said a spokeswoman from Golden Boy Promotions. The winner will be the interim WBO lightweight titleholder.

Talks between WBO and WBA lightweight titleholder Nate Campbell and former WBO junior lightweight champion Joan Guzman are underway for a meeting between the two on Sept. 13. No site has been determined.

Melinda Cooper will be fighting in August in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas-based prizefighter is perhaps the deadliest knockout puncher in women’s boxing and is considered one of the top fighters in the world. She plans to return to the junior bantamweight and bantamweight division after dabbling with featherweights last month.