Cesar Francis: I have the blood of an old-school fighter
Cesar Francis had knocked on the door of opportunities for years, but no door opened to the unbeaten junior welterweight. He never doubted his abilities as a prizefighter, but he wondered if any opportunity would ever come his way.
Francis is grateful ProBoxTV, the upstart boxing promotions based in Florida, took a chance on him. Now he hopes to reap the benefits of this opportunity on his road towards a world title shot.
The 31-year-old will take a major step-up in opposition Saturday night when he takes on Ray Beltran at the ProBox Events Center in Plant City, Florida.
In his last bout on March 25, his first under the ProBoxTV banner, Francis defeated Mohamed Mimoune by unanimous decision. The win over Mimoune took place over five months after Francis defeated Jose Roman Vazquez by unanimous decision in a clash of unbeaten junior welterweights.
Francis (10-0, 6 knockouts), who is originally from San Miguelito, Panama and now resides in Brooklyn, New York, will face Beltran, who although is past his prime at age 41, is a former WBO world lightweight titleholder and has won two of his last three fights, both by knockout. It is a significant step-up for Francis, one he believes he has to take now in this point of his career.
“He has experience and has fought in more fights than me,” Francis told The Ring Thursday afternoon. “I don’t see what he has now as a challenge to me. I may have less fights than him, but I need to put myself up against him to see where I’m at in my career. A win over Beltran is another step closer towards my goal of fighting for a title.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Francis felt frustrated and left out. He sought to be signed by a promoter, but did not generate any interest.
Francis ended up signing with ProBoxTV, which was spearheaded by Garry Jonas, a former business partner of Mike Tyson. The promotional company also has former world titleholders Antonio Tarver, Roy Jones, Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, and Paulie Malignaggi signed on as partners.
Despite running into dead ends in an attempt to sign on with promotional companies, Francis is grateful ProBoxTV reached out to sign him.
“Doors were closed on me,” said Francis, who is trained by Chico Guzman after his uncle, who passed away last week, introduced him to boxing. “I was told I couldn’t sell tickets. I overcame a lot of obstacles. I stayed humble and quiet. ProBox opened the doors for me. I’m very grateful that I received this opportunity and gift. And I’m still humble from it.”
Francis migrated to the United States when he was a child, but keeps in contact with family and friends who still reside in Panama.
Like any prizefighter with roots from Panama, Francis looked up to the great Roberto Duran. While he embraces Duran’s success and accomplishments in the ring, Francis wants to create his own path toward success.
“It would be amazing,” said Francis. “It would be a dream to represent my country on major platforms and when I fight for a world title. It will be an honor.
“I’m not Roberto Duran. He’s my idol, but I don’t want to be him. I just want to build on my success and I want people in Panama to believe in me. That would mean the most to me.”
Francis may be a prospect, but he thrives in the old-school mentality. Having overcome obstacles in and out of the ring, he is eager to demonstrate what he is capable of by facing the likes of Ray Beltran.
He wants to challenge himself and show he is a force to be reckoned with at 140 pounds.
“I have the blood of an old-school fighter. Boxing is in me. I’m challenging myself to fight one day for a world championship. I want to fight the best. If the opportunity is there, I’m going to take it. This is not about protecting unbeaten records.
“Let’s see how good I can be.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing