By Jeff Aranow: IBF World lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. will be defending title on January 20 against former WBA super featherweight champion Javier Fortuna on the undercard of the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 28-year-old Fortuna has moved up from the 130-lb. division since his loss to Jason Sosa last year in June Fortuna lost a 12 round unanimous decision to the hard-hitting Sosa. Along with the defeat, Fortuna lost his WBA 130 lb. title. Sosa didn’t hold onto the WBA title for long before vacating it after one defense.
This will be the 26-year-old Easter’s third defense of his IBF 135 lb. title he won last year in beating Richard Commey by a 12 round split decision on September 9. Easter Jr. has since successfully defended his IBF strap with a 12 round unanimous decision win over Luis Cruz last February and a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision win over the always tough Denis Shafikov on June 30 of this year.
Easter Jr. had been talked about potentially fighting a unification fight against WBC champion Mikey Garcia. However, Garcia is moving up to light welterweight to challenge IBF 140 lb. champion Sergey Lipinets in February, and he’s not expected to come back down to lightweight unless there’s a chance for a big money fight against Vasyl Lomachenko.
“They ain’t gonna be able to run for long,” Easter said to RingTV.com, “but for now we gotta focus on January 20th at the Barclays (Center), someone was brave enough to get this ass whooping!”
This is going to be a difficult match-up for Fortuna, who has fought his last 4 fights at lightweight since losing to Sosa last year. Fortuna has beaten these guys in his last 4 fights:
• Marlyn Cabrera
• Omar Douglas
• Mario Beltre
• Nicolas Polanco
Douglas is a pretty good fighter, and Fortuna was able to squeak by him with a narrow 10 round unanimous decision by the scores 96-93, 95-94 and 96-93.
Fortuna, 5’6”, will be giving away 5 inches in height to the 5’11” Easter Jr. and 8 inches in reach. That’s going to make it all but impossible for Fortuna to win this fight, as most of his punches are the looping variety that he’s able to land against guys his own height or shorter at super featherweight.
It’s going to be a lot harder for Fortuna to land his punches against Easter Jr., as he’s good at fighting tall to keep his shorter opponents on the outside. Easter Jr. is also good at leaning back to avoid getting hit with head shots against his shorter opponents. Fortuna would be better off moving back down to super featherweight, because he doesn’t have the tools to beat the bigger fighters in the lightweight division.
Fortuna was at his best from 2009 to 2014. Since 2015, he’s not looked like the same guy. He’s not as powerful looking, but he’s still got the same overconfident attitude that he had previously when he was doing well in his career.