Lee Gorm­ley catches up with Daniel Franco, five months after he al­most lost his life to box­ing

Boxing News - - Contents -

Guillermo Rigondeaux tells us that he is not in­tim­i­dated by Va­syl Lo­machenko

ON JUNE 10, 2017, Amer­i­can fighter Daniel Franco was knocked out in the eighth round of his 21st pro­fes­sional out­ing by com­pa­triot Jose Haro. What tran­spired at the Win­nave­gas Casino & Re­sort in Sloan was an­other wor­ry­ing story within the sport in­volv­ing the young Cal­i­for­nian.

At 25 years of age, feath­er­weight prospect Franco was stopped by a wal­lop­ing over­hand right which in­stantly ended the USBA 126lbs ti­tle bout, only his sec­ond de­feat.

“Twitch” was able to gather him­self enough to re­turn to his stool in the after­math, but had to lay back down as the of­fi­cial re­sult was read aloud, lead­ing him to be stretchered out of the squared­cir­cle and straight to the hos­pi­tal.

“I re­mem­ber noth­ing of that night in June,” ex­plained Franco to Box­ing News.

“I re­mem­ber wak­ing up in the hos­pi­tal and thought I had a dream about meet­ing the fighter I was go­ing to fight. He told me ‘I al­ways think a face-off is weird be­cause you’re about to fight the other guy.’

“I told my dad this when I awoke from my coma and he told me that that hap­pened at the weigh-ins. I had no idea. I still have no rec­ol­lec­tion of the fight or that the fight even hap­pened.”

Upon reach­ing the hos­pi­tal that night, Franco was med­i­cally placed into a coma and un­der­went surgery for two brain bleeds. In an in­ten­sive care unit he re­quired tubes to breathe. A sec­tion of his skull was also later re­moved. He will never fight again.

“I feel that God has kept me here for a rea­son, that rea­son I am still yet to know,” said the up­beat Cal­i­for­nia na­tive.

“The re­cov­ery is go­ing pretty de­cent. Per­son­ally, I feel like I’m stuck in one place all of the time, though. It’s ter­ri­ble that my ca­reer is over and I am in a place in my life where I am work­ing in be­tween ob­sta­cles.”

As is the dan­ger in light of his near-fa­tal in­jury, Franco is now forced to don a pro­tec­tive hel­met ev­ery time he’s on his feet. This is to safe­guard his brain from fur­ther dam­age, with a sub­stan­tial piece of skull, which usu­ally acts as pro­tec­tion, now miss­ing. A sad sou­venir of that life-al­ter­ing night in June.

With med­i­cal bills to pay and a life without pro­fes­sional box­ing ahead of him after a seven-year ca­reer, he has set up a Gofundme page in the hope of help­ing him along this dif­fi­cult path. There will no more lac­ing of the gloves in Franco’s fu­ture, some­thing he ad­mits will be a huge ab­sence from his ev­ery­day life, but his at­ten­tion has re­verted back to­wards a more ed­u­ca­tional route since bat­tling back from his hor­rific ordeal.

“I’ll def­i­nitely miss it! I tweeted about this be­fore,” he con­tin­ued “‘Truth is, I miss the ring. I miss the gym. The sweat, the ded­i­ca­tion, the never end­ing work­outs. I wish this never hap­pened. But, I’m alive!

“I feel that I ac­com­plished one of my main goals in life, to be a pro­fes­sional ath­lete. Truth is, I’m go­ing to try to pur­sue my ed­u­ca­tion now and ful­fil my first dream when I was grow­ing up. To be a neu­rol­o­gist or a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist.”

Box­ing News tried to reach his pro­mot­ers Roc Na­tion for com­ment but had no joy - it is a prob­lem Franco also claims to have en­coun­tered since the ac­ci­dent. He did have peo­ple he wanted to thank, though.

“[Thanks to] the Madonna Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pi­tal, Mercy Hos­pi­tal, and Casa Colina Re­hab in Pomona. I’d like to give a huge thank you to Dr. Laverso who was the main di­rec­tor at Casa Colina, he made sure I was well taken care of.

“Also, thank you to my fam­ily for al­ways be­ing by my side through it all. My girl­friend even stayed by my side through all of my re­cov­ery. She’s been one of the great­est to sup­port me. Her and my mum. Thank you to all the fans that reached out and kept on push­ing me through my re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and re­cov­ery.”

Franco has now got a sec­ond chance at life. A chance he’s eter­nally grate­ful to have: “I’m happy that I boxed, but I’m even hap­pier that I’m alive and get a sec­ond chance.”


To help, visit www.gofundme.com/Danieltwitch­franco

THE FIGHTER: Franco ac­cepts his fight­ing days are over but ad­mits he still yearns to box

FATE­FUL NIGHT: Franco [left] and Haro ex­change be­fore the hor­ri­ble end­ing

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