MANILA, Philippines - Drian Francisco toyed with unbeaten Ryan Origenes in a three-round exhibition during a “Saved By The Bell” card at Eastwood, Libis, last Friday night and gave the crowd a preview of what to expect when he takes on Panama’s hard-hitting Ricardo (El Matematico) Nuñez in a WBA superflyweight title eliminator at the Ynares Gym in Pasig on April 17.
Nuñez, ranked No. 2 by the WBA and No. 1 by the WBC, is in the way of Francisco’s climb to the top. The 22-year-old contender, known for his mathematical precision, blinding hand-speed and ruthless killer’s instinct, has a record of 17-1, with 15 KOs, including seven in the first round.
“We’re slowing down his training because we don’t want Drian to burn out,” said Anuran who produces “Saved By The Bell,” a weekly boxing program shown Sundays at 3 p.m. on Solar TV (RPN-9) with Monday replays at 6 p.m. on the Solar Sports cable channel. “He was already into hard sparring but now, we’ll taper off. We’re not bothered by the delay. Drian will be ready whether the fight is sooner or later.”
Francisco, 27, impressed the fans at Libis by totally dominating Marty Elorde’s protege Origenes. Solar vice president Ralph Roy was in the audience and said Francisco never looked sharper.
“Everybody, including the GAB officials at ringside, noticed how much he has improved,” said Anuran. “Since he beat (Roberto) Vasquez last October, Drian’s confidence has gone up several notches. It shows in the way he moves around the ring. He has improved in all departments - footwork, defense, power, combinations. He’s ready for Nunez.”
Anuran said he initially got an email from Nuñez representative Carlos Gonzalez informing him about the cut last week. Then Mendoza called to confirm the postponement.
“One good thing about the delay is Mr. Mendoza agreed to allow a Filipino referee for the fight,” said Anuran. “It was a concession to me as the promoter because moving the fight will mean additional costs. I’m happy to announce that Silvestre Abainza will be the referee. The judges will come from neutral countries - Sergio Caiz from the US, a Japanese and a Thai.”
Caiz, who is of Mexican descent, was a judge in WBA lightflyweight champion Giovanni Segura’s third round knockout over Walter Tello in Acapulco last month.
Anuran said he is still trying to lay his hands on a video of a recent Nuñez fight. Nuñez’ camp has refused to send over a video. The only video that Anuran has is a 2007 six-round bout where Nuñez stopped Carlos Rivas in the third.
“We’ve studied Nuñez’ style from the video of the Rivas fight but we’re sure he has improved since then,” said Anuran. “We don’t really know what to expect but whatever he brings to the ring, Drian will be ready. He won’t throw away this chance.”
The winner of the Francisco-Nuñez eliminator will move on to challenge WBA superflyweight titlist Nobuo Nashiro of Japan.
Francisco advanced to No. 3 in the WBA ratings after halting Vasquez in the 10th round for the vacant WBA International 115-pound crown at the Cuneta Astrodome last October. The win raised Francisco’s record to 18-0-1, with 14 KOs. Vasquez was once the WBA lightflyweight titleholder.
A San Sebastian college graduate, Francisco is in line for bigger fights.
Anuran said if Nashiro isn’t available, he will call out unified WBA and WBC superflyweight champion Vic Darchinyan for a showdown against Francisco.
“That will depend on a lot of things,” said Anuran. “First, Drian has to beat Nuñez. Second, Nashiro will be ordered to defend his crown next against Hugo Cazares with whom he fought to a draw in his second defense. That will mean delaying Drian’s title shot. And third, Darchinyan must defeat challenger Rodrigo Guerrero this morning (Manila time). This also assumes Nonito Donaire will move up to bantamweight because Drian doesn’t want to be in Nonito’s way.”
Anuran said Francisco has so far logged 80 rounds of sparring and stopped two sparmates.
“Drian is at his peak right now,” continued Anuran. “His right hook and uppercut combination is deadly. That’s what he’s been using to knock out his sparmates. He’s ready to be matched against anybody in his division with Darchinyan and WBO champion Jorge Arce his most wanted opponents.”
Anuran also announced that Francisco has signed a contract to endorse Raimol, the new energized lubricant to be launched this month in the country.