By Keith Idec
Robert Easter Jr. had hoped to battle Mikey Garcia next in what would’ve been a lightweight title unification bout between unbeaten champions.
Easter will settle for facing former 130-pound champion Javier Fortuna on January 20. According to multiple reports Thursday, the undefeated Easter will defend his IBF 135-pound championship against Fortuna on the Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson undercard next month at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Showtime is expected to televise the Easter-Fortuna fight as part of a telecast headlined by Spence’s first defense of the IBF welterweight title.
A source confirmed to BoxingScene.com that a deal is in place for the Easter-Fortuna fight. An official announcement is expected within the next week.
Garcia, meanwhile, has decided to remain at 140 pounds for a fight against IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets. Showtime announced Thursday that Kazakhstan’s Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) will make the first defense of the title he won November 4 against Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), of Oxnard, California, on February 10 at Alamodome in San Antonio.
Easter didn’t mention Garcia or Fortuna by name, but sent out a Tweet on Wednesday night in reference to his January 20 fight. It read: They ain’t gone be able to Run for long but for now we gotta focus on Jan. 20th at the Barclays someone was brave enough to get this a** whooping! #ManDown
By facing Fortuna, the 26-year-old Easter (20-0, 14 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, will make the third defense of the IBF 135-pound championship he won by beating Ghana’s Richard Commey (25-2, 22 KOs) by split decision in September 2016.
The Dominican Republic’s Fortuna, 28, has moved up from the super featherweight division to square off against Easter in this lightweight title fight. Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) is 4-0 since Jason Sosa (20-3-4, 15 KOs) stopped him in the 11th round to take the WBA 130-pound championship from Fortuna in June 2016 in Beijing, China.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.