Explosive Gainsborough fighter Ricardo ‘Rico’ Franco is all set for the highlight of his career when he takes on the legendary king of the bare-knuckle boxing ring.
Franco celebrates his 27th birthday next Monday, but there won’t be any cake or alcohol on the menu because he is in full training for an eagerly awaited world-title showdown with Jimmy ‘The Celtic Warrior’ Sweeney.
“This is the big one, the fight I have always wanted,” said Franco. “I know Jimmy is a legend, but I am 100 per cent confident that I can beat him.”
Tickets are already selling fast for the clash, which will form part of the BKB 19 show at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, November 16.
Businessman Richard Kane, chairman of Gainsborough Trinity Football Club, who sponsor Franco, has even organised a coach to ferry the fighter’s fans down to the capital.
The duel has been on the cards since Franco won £10,000 in the ‘Prizefighter’ final, also at the O2, in June. The winner that night was promised a shot at a world title, and after a break to allow injuries to heal, Franco can’t wait for his chance.
“It’s the fight of my life, and if I win, the amount of doors it will open up for me will be crazy,” he said. “Jimmy is the main man in bare-knuckle boxing, with 23 wins and only one loss. He is the current champion at three different weights.
“But I have now won all five of my fights. I deserve the chance, and I am in the perfect mindset. I am training every day, twice a day, and everything is going to plan.
“I am stepping up my endurance to the next level and starting to go hard. I am really picking the tempo up and aiming to peak at the right time.”
The fight, which comes under the 76kg weight-category, is being overseen by BKB, the only organisation in the world licensed to stage legalised bare-knuckle boxing.
Sweeney is the odds-on favourite with the bookies, but is coming towards the end of his career, and Franco is convinced he can beat him for speed, while also utilising his vast experience in mixed martial arts (MMA).