Was there ever a particular fight or fighter that bothered you mentally?
You know the only one that messes with me from time to time is this guy, Amos Cowart. I know the guy, and seen him fight. We became good friends. I remember I just wanted to beat him, and really what I should've done was just knocked him out. I think I ended up doing more damage to him. He's one of the fighters that I really mentally damaged. If you look at him today, you'd think he's an old man. I still think about him...
Tell me about Redha Jean Abbas whom you fought in France?
This guy was a really good boxer. This was one of the guys I was telling you that he was beating me... He was taller and had a great jab. I was just looking for that opportunity. I remember getting him on the ropes and he would drop his hand. I remember stepping in and coming with an over-hand and he just crumbled. That was it! I knocked him out, cold.
I read somewhere that you fought this guy and he was a dirty fighter. How did you take him out?
Yeah, that was Jesus Muniz. He must have had probably thirty fights at that time. He was a Mexican fighter and he was dirty, he grab me... bump me... shoulder me. The only thing he didn't do was bite me. I just out-classed him and out-conditioned him. I was a clean fighter for the most part, but if you want to play dirty? I can play dirty.
So you know the tricks as well?
Yes! Elbows, heads, everything. You do it to me, I'm going to do it back to you.
What was it about sparring that made you good?
When I was like 14 or 15 years old I was sparring with 20 to 30 year old grown men. I'd spar with guys with man power and experience. That's what made me good. As a trainer I tend to want to do that and put my fighters in with veterans, because they learn from that and even if the guy does a trick on him they'll pick that up. By the time the amateurs get to the pros they'll know how to fight them. If you're a good amateur fighter you'll separate yourself mentally from other amateur fighters at a pro level. Big difference...
What type of fighter are you?
I love working the body. I would always break down the body. There was this one guy I fought, Richard Campbell and if you ever see that fight I actually lifted him up the air with an upper-cut and he dropped. Every time I'd hit him you could hear a 'pop' sound. When you hit somebody really hard you can hear that sound.
What was your best punch?
I love hitting the liver, because when you hit somebody there... it's a done deal. Boxing has three main objects: There's your pancreas, esophagus, and the liver. Those are the main targets you should concentrate on. I pin-point my shots. What you do is this... you hit the guy and work, and hit him and work. Eventually your going to hit that target and all you need is one punch and when you land it they are going to drop. When I saw an opportunity I move to a certain angle and I didn't throw a punch because I wanted him to relax. I would tap him because in his mind I wasn't hitting him hard. So when I have him relaxed, BAM!
I was a very strategic and technical fighter and in boxing you have to be a good athlete and a good psychologist. Body language is very important. You have to be a good actor in the ring!
What scarred you about the sport?
When they knock on the dressing room door and tell you it's time to go, and all the way till you step inside the ring and they announce your name. Think about this... we're going to go in the ring and beat the shit out of each other. If I steal something from you then you have a reason to beat the shit out of me, you understand?
So what reason did you make up in your mind to get yourself worked up?
It was always the same thing... you insulted me because you think you can beat me! I'm about to prove you wrong.
Tell me about your last fight.
It was with Juan Manuel Marquez and it was a 12 round fight for the WBO NABO featherweight title. The winner would eventually fight Marco Antonio Barrera and later they ended up fighting each other. At that time I wasn't doing good in school, I was a senior in college. I was under a lot of stress and I had been in a relationship since my career started with the same girl and the relationship had ended. I didn't have a trainer. I wasn't under any promotional contract with anybody, I was pretty much on my own. So there was a lot of instability which caused me to go from perfection to non-perfection. I needed to make things right outside the ring so I can do right in the ring. It was always my mentality to do the right thing, but it just never worked out. 'You know for a fighter to be back in the ring, the outside has to be right.'
Marquez was very hot at the time and a great prospect coming up and I remember I took a good shot and I went down and thought to myself if I'm unstable when I stand up they're going to stop the fight. I remember I took an 8 count and then the ref said, fights' over!
You mentioned something about being in the Hall Of Fame, explain that?
If you look at my record my only losses are title fights. I only have 3 losses throughout my professional career and I think I have enough fights and good wins to someday put me in the both the Hall Of Fames, Florida Hall Of Fame and Canastota. Eventually it will happen. They haven't put me in the ballads yet because they say I'm still young. It's just a matter of time before I get in there because I won two world titles and have the credentials to be a Hall Of Famer. It's basically who you know...
What did you do when you won your first world title?
All your life you dream about that as a child, you dream that you're a world champion and realize when you wake up it's not reality. You dream that so many times when you actually do win it... when I won it I slept with it for about two weeks and when I wake up I had to make sure it was real.
How do you want to be remembered in the world of boxing?
I want to be remembered as a good person who did right for his community and someone who did a good thing in life. I think everybody is given a talent that God gave you, whatever it was meant for you to be. I think when you don't do what your talent was you cheat yourself and you cheat your family and everybody else. I always thought boxing was meant to be as a child and I achieved that goal.
"I really enjoyed your story Francisco, and I'm sure your fans appreciate the insights of your boxing career. You're a great inspiration for any kid who wants to someday be a world champ. You will be their guide to the promise land." -'Mean' Mike Duffau
If you happen to be in the Tampa area swing by the gym, Legends Boxing Club, where the champ himself will be glad to give you a lesson. Here is the website: http://www.legendsboxingclub.com/