By David A. Avila
Experts say the best prizefighters are hungry. They come from poor backgrounds and seedy streets looking to escape poverty by any means possible.
But every so often, a kid from the middle class arrives with a fire inside that breaks that invisible barrier. Back in the 90s when Marco Antonio Barrera arrived he fought like a demon though his parents were that rare middle class family in Mexico City. Two-car garages didn’t stop Barrera.
It’s rare but it does happen.
Daniel “Twitch” Franco doesn’t need to fight professionally. The 24-year-old Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. resident comes from a family that runs their own businesses including a boxing/MMA gym called the Warzone.
“I only live about a mile away from the gym,” said Franco. “I can go there whenever I want.”
Franco (12-0-3, 7 Kos) fights off those middle class urges and meets Mexican veteran German Meraz (52-37-1, 30 Kos) in an eight round featherweight bout on Saturday March 26, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Ca. If you notice Meraz’s record he has a ton of fights for a 29-year-old.
“He has 91 professional fights,” said Franco who understands that Meraz has probably seen everything possible with that many fights. “We have a game plan and know how he is going to react to my punches. I think he’s going to crumble. I think the pressure I’m going to put on him is going to make him break down physically.”
That’s Franco’s confidence. There’s no hesitation in his mind about journeying into the roughest and most dangerous sport not on wheels.
“You don’t play boxing,” he says.
Franco doesn’t dance around the ring. When the bell rings he’s looking for the knockout win. From his very first bout it was evident that offense is his defense.
Despite his middle class upbringing, he’s not the first to enter the prize ring. His brother Michael “Lil Warrior” Franco was a featherweight too with serious pop who fought a main event on ESPN back in 2011. Big brother Michael was known for his strength.
“My oldest brother Michael he’s really motivational having him in the corner,” said Daniel Franco before departing for the airport on Wednesday morning. “I’ve always looked up to him when I was an amateur. When I became professional I saw with his help how much further I can go.”
Franco signed a four-year contract with Roc Nation. His fight will not be televised on HBO. The featherweight contest between JoJo Diaz and Jayson Velez gets second billing and will be on the televised portion of the card that features Andre Ward versus Sullivan Barrera.
Prizefighting is the path chosen by Franco who could have gone to college or worked in the family business. But trading punches just appeals to the rather tall featherweight.
“I could do a lot of things. I was going to school for a little while. But there’s something about boxing. I’m really drawn to it. There’s nobody I have to rely on,” said Franco. “Growing up I was always playing sports. I was always involved in sports but boxing was the most interesting. It’s really challenging and I love it. I love it.”