Saturday night, November 29, 2014, at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, televised LIVE on HBO and streamed LIVE on TopRank.com, is the WBO World lightweight title bout featuring Omaha’s own Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (24-0, 17 KO’s) who takes on Phoenix’s Raymundo ‘Sugar’ Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KO’s) in the scheduled for 12 rounds main event of the evening.
Giving his hometown fans what is their second World Championship bout held in Omaha in the last 42 years, the now 27 years-old Crawford makes his third WBO World lightweight title defense against a tough, cagey veteran in the 33 years-old Beltran.
The more than loaded undercard includes Russian, Evgeny Gradovich (19-0, 9 KO’s) who takes on Puerto Rico’s, Jayson Velez (22-0 16 KO’s) in a scheduled for 12 rounds IBF World featherweight title bout; Mike Reed (11-0, 6 KO’s) vs Oscar Valenzuela (8-0-1, 5 KO’s) in an 8 round welterweight bout; Juan Saucedo (15-0, 11 KO’s) vs Denver’s Daniel Calzada (10-11-2, 2 KO’s) in a scheduled for 6 rounds welterweight bout and the Colorado Springs residing, former US Army Sergeant, John ‘Fast Handz’ Franklin (8-0, 4 KO’s) taking on Andre Wilson (14-7-1, 12 KO’s) in a scheduled for 6 rounds bout.
Mike Reed (Waldorf, Maryland) boxed in Colorado numerous times as an amateur, Daniel Calzada is a Denver pro fan favorite and John Franklin had an outstanding amateur career in Colorado.
Franklin’s bout is of particular interest to Colorado fight fans after him being denied participation on a fight card last month in Denver where he was anticipating showcasing his skills as a professional in front of a large contingent of friends, that opportunity put on hold the result of questionable blood work.
John ‘Fast-Handz’ Franklin (that name given by US Army assistant coach Fareed Samad after a sparring session where Franklin displayed a beautiful 7-8 punch combination), is a highly decorated former amateur boxer with the WCAP (World Class Athlete) US Army Team.
Now 30 years-old, the Kansas City, Missouri, native Franklin has found a new direction in life with 6 years-old daughter, Joniah Levae Franklin, forcing a new level of maturity when young Joniah came to live with her dad several years ago.
Being a single father has its own adjustments, those made easier for Franklin and Joniah with good friend, Shanise Lewis helping out, her own daughter, Shaniah, considered by Franklin his own.
Franklin never knew his father and remains dedicated to not only maintaining a presence in his daughter’s life but being the role model he always envisioned himself for his own child.
Something you don’t often see is the once romantically involved Lewis and Franklin now go about the business of raising their two daughters together, that being their entire focus.
John Franklin comes from a strong military background with an aunt, uncle and even his grandmother having served in the US Army.
Franklin was an ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) member at Northeast High School in Kansas City and was a superb athlete with scholarship offers in football (Missouri Western) and baseball (Missouri Southern) his options as a way to get that much needed college education, FREE of charge.
The baseball scholarship offer paperwork mysteriously vanished and the football offer somehow withdrawn left Franklin the only viable choice of signing with the Missouri National Guard in 2002, where he could complete his term of service and then be eligible for help with financing his college education.
As fate would have it, a young lady’s father Franklin was dating recommended him to an Army coach for travel to Colorado and participation in the ‘Kit Carson Games’.
Franklin won that competition and after participating a second time was then reassigned to the Army base in Fort Carson, Colorado, to box from 2004-2005, that not sitting well with his grandmother, Diane L. Franklin, who preferred he stay closer to home anywhere in Missouri.
The now 64 years-old Mrs. Franklin is a ‘Breast Cancer Survivor’ and John sees her as his inspiration and motivation, her being his guiding light from a very young age.
The words “over the top” (with old school discipline) personify the memories of Franklin when discussing his grandmother.
The mother of John Franklin, Terri Banks, wanted to move from Missouri to Oklahoma when he was 12 years-old and after a brief stay with an aunt, he went to live with his grandmother just prior to his 13th birthday, remaining in Missouri.
The relationship between Banks and Franklin is a ‘work in progress’, him recognizing she was probably doing the best she could during what was apparently a difficult time in her life.
In 2005, John Franklin became a member of the WCAP boxing program where coaches Basheer Abdullah and Joe Guzman took him under their wings, becoming mentors as well as good friends with Coach Guzman later becoming Godfather to Franklin’s daughter, Joniah.
As a member of the WCAP boxing program between the years 2005-2011, John Franklin amassed a sterling amateur record winning somewhere between 105 and 110 of 135 bouts.
US Army Sergeant John Franklin was a 7- Times All-Army and Armed Forces Champion, medaling in every competition he competed in, his crowning achievement coming when a earning the Silver Medal in the 2007 World Military Games held in Hyderabad, India.
The World Military Games are similar to the Olympic Games, both held once every 4 years, the prestige of that tournament arguably rivaling the Olympic Games themselves.
In 2011, John Franklin earned the title of USA Boxing National Champion in the Super flyweight division (114 lbs.) and in March of 2012 the decision was made to turn pro, his Army service completed.
His record now 8-0 with 4 KO’s, John ‘Fast-Handz’ Franklin has quickly learned the road to professional boxing supremacy demands patience and humility.
With fights backed out of, cancellations and finding an opponent who can push him testing his patience, Franklin is confident his management team consisting of Steve Badgely, Greg Sorrentino, Bill Yeomans and Head Coach Joe Guzman will make all the right decisions.
Franklin plans on putting on a show in Omaha, displaying lightening quick hand-speed and footwork Fred Astaire himself would be in awe of on November 29th.
Franklin asked only this: “Please thank all of my family, friends and coaches for their support. I’m hoping to gain more fans with my performance on November 29th. Thanks to Coach Basheer Abdullah for being the first to believe in me, Coach Lev for always keeping my attitude positive during the wake of disappointment and Coach Guzman for everything, especially being Godfather to my daughter, Joniah”.
John ‘Fast-Handz’ Franklin has surrounded himself with everything necessary to continue ‘The Journey’ towards becoming a World Champion.
His is the one fight you definitely don’t want to miss come November 29th in Omaha, Nebraska, streamed LIVE on TopRank.com.
Stephen Johnson feature writes for BORICUA BOXING.com.