By Francisco Salazar
Abner Mares and Miguel Angel Garcia are some of the featherweights who have received press in the last few months. Whether it is being mentioned as some of the best in the division or to announce certain future fights, both have even mentioned as some of the best in boxing.
However, could a lesser-known fighter than those two take over the division and remain unbeaten?
That could be the case if Javier Fortuna keeps winning and winning impressively.
Fortuna wants to eventually fight Mares and Garcia, and even Yuriorkis Gamboa. But first, he must get by Luis Franco tonight at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, OK.
The scheduled 10 round bout will headline an ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” telecast. It will be a co-promotions event between Sampson Lewkowicz, Warriors Boxing, and Holden Productions.
Fortuna has caught the eye of media and boxing fans with spectacular knockouts in his last couple of fights. In three of his last four bouts, Fortuna has stopped or knocked out Yanudale Evans, Cristobal Cruz, and most recently, Miguel Zamudio in what has seemed like a collection of highlight-reel endings.
He will face a formidable foe in Franco, a boxer who has lost once in his 12 professional bouts. Franco is a 2004 Olympian who represented Cuba and is trying to right the ship of sorts after losing his last bout to Javier Munoz in October.
Munoz just unsuccessfully challenged Evgeny Gradovich for a world title belt last weekend.
Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) recently made headlines saying he would not only beat Franco, but that he would knock him out. Those are bold words coming from a fighter who has faced modest opposition, even less modest opposition which Zamudio represented in their April fight that only lasted one round.
With power that could change the momentum of a fight at a moment’s notice, maybe Fortuna should feel that confident.
“I’ve had very good sparring in preparation for my fight against Franco,” said Fortuna in a telephone interview on Monday. “I’ve seen video of him and I believe I’m the more technical fighter. I will show my power in the ring. I hope he doesn’t have any excuses when I beat him.”
Fortuna, who is interim WBA featherweight champion, trains at the Extreme Boxing Gym in Santa Paula, CA. The Dominican-born fighter has trained in Port Hueneme, which is located next to Oxnard, alongside Sergio Martinez. He has become one of a long list of fighters who have migrated to Ventura County to perfect their craft such as Martinez, Brandon Rios, Victor Ortiz, and Marcos Maidana. Whether it is the quality of sparring in these gyms, trainers, or mild climate, Fortuna has likened the area and has met fans of his in the process.
“This (Ventura County) is a boxing environment,” said Fortuna, who is promoted by Sampson Lewkowicz. “It is great to run in the mountains and hills. I’ve even has some boxing fans recognize me from fighting on television. They’ve shown great support to me.”
Should Fortuna defeat Franco, he already has his eyes set on a few fighters to unify title belts. One fighter Franco would like to fight is 2006 Pacifica High School graduate Miguel Angel Garcia. However, unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa is at the top of the list of those fighters.
“He (Gamboa) is mentioned as one of the best and I want to fight the best fighters out there.”
That could be an interesting fight, but realistically, Gamboa may not drop down to 126 pounds to fight Fortuna. Should Fortuna move up in weight, it could become a possibility.
However, he has to take care of business against Franco tonight. Then he would have to take care of business against Mares, Garcia, Gradovich, or even contenders such as Daniel Ponce De Leon, Billy Dib, or Hozumi Hasegawa.
Could he have the goods to be beat other featherweights? Possibly. Is it best for him to do that to measure him before he decides to move up in weight? Most likely.
Regardless, Fortuna is an exciting fighter to watch based on his recent performances. More of him on television, regardless of whom he fights and whether he wins or loses, is good for boxing.
Francisco A. Salazar has covered boxing for Boxingscene.com since September and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on twitter at FSalazarBoxing