Maybe, Maybe Not – Robert Easter Jr.
By Pat Quinn: Robert Easter Jr. is ready to kick in the door of the lightweight division. Avoided or overlooked is open to interpretation. In the toughest of his career, he hasn’t looked past Javier Fortuna. The media has done enough of that for him. Easter isn’t a big talker, he engages just enough to promote himself, and elevate the interest level of the fight. He has been pumping unification since he earned the strap from the IBF in 2016. Both guys made it clear, they’d rather be squaring off with Mikey Garcia. They’re going to have to get on line. On Saturday, they’ll be in the ring together, and looking to make a statement.
Al Haymon has been maneuvering his fighter appropriately, thus far. Robert can’t complain with receiving a world title shot in his eighteenth pro bout. He followed that split decision victory over Richard Comey, with a home town defense against Luis Cruz. He made the Denis Shafikov fight harder than it needed to be. Easter would have beat the breaks off him if he stayed outside and boxed, the way he did against Cruz. The fighters that have been selected for Robert are there to make him look good. They gave ground in talent, but these opponents may have leveled the playing field with world class toughness. Robert Easter Jr has earned his last three victories, there’s no doubt about it. That fact, gives him a massive advantage coming into his third title defense.
On the other hand, Javier Fortuna is coming off two stay busy fights in the Dominican Republic. Before that, Omar Douglas dropped him in the first round, back in November of 2016. Fortuna can get fat with his punches and Douglas capitalized – Landing a left hook on the button in between those wide shots. Javier recovered, using his superior footwork and boxing ability to secure the unanimous decision.
The Bunny Team is a confident one. They feel where ever the fight goes, the upper hand goes to Easter. He can point the gun, like Virgil Hunter taught us, and keep everything off the stick. Easter is a pretty responsible defender when he stays outside. Fortuna’s movement causes him to hold quite a bit. That’s when Robert can shoot his sharp counters – When Javier rushes in and doesn’t get his head off the line. Easter likes his Diego Corrales impression, though. Giving up his sizeable height and reach advantages to bang on the inside. Both guys like to scrap, and they both can crack. Neither fighter is a beneficiary of one punch knockout power, but Easter’s straight shots outweigh Fortuna’s wide, sometimes slapping punches. Javier Fortuna is a very talented fighter. A southpaw, who throws from different angles, and has an awkwardness to his style. He’s had success with it, but Easter is ready and willing to accept whatever’s thrown at him. He has everything he’s going to need to take care of business on Saturday night.
Both boxers have their sights set on bigger and better things. The winner of this fight can capitalize on the exposure, and look forward to a promising future. The lightweights will be making some noise in 2018. A Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares fight seems to be in the forecast. Rey Beltran and Paulus Moses will be fighting for the WBO crown that Terry Flanagan vacated. Vasyl Lomachenko will be in the mix soon enough, and maybe he’ll make himself available for the winner of that fight. If Easter beats Fortuna, he’ll probably have to defend again, before he gets a unification fight. I hope I’m wrong. No matter how it plays out, there’s money to be made. It would be great if we were fortunate enough to get an undisputed lightweight champion by 2019. Maybe a pipe dream – Maybe not – Stay tuned.