By Keith Idec
Robert Easter Jr. doesn’t expect to just defeat Denis Shafikov on Friday night.
The unbeaten IBF lightweight champion anticipates becoming the first fighter to knock out the Russian southpaw. Whatever occurs during their scheduled 12-round fight in Toledo, Ohio, if Easter beats his mandatory challenger he wants his following fight to come against another lightweight titleholder.
Easter expects to return to the ring sometime in the fall and hopes to challenge either WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan or WBA 135-pound champion Jorge Linares.
“I wanna unify those titles,” Easter told BoxingScene.com. “I want those big fights that’ll get me over the top, to get me more exposure and everything. I’m looking for those fights. I’ve called out all the champions – Flanagan, Linares, all those guys. Hopefully those fights can be made.”
The 26-year-old Easter is willing to travel to England to face Flanagan (33-0, 13 KOs), a southpaw who resides in Manchester.
“I’d like to piece him up in front of the UK fans,” Easter said. “I’ve got a lot of fans over there in the UK, and I know they’d like to see that fight happen as well. Their boxing scene over there is crazy.”
The Venezuelan-born Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) doesn’t have a fight scheduled, either.
“I’d like to fight him, too,” Easter said. “I think he’s a skillful fighter. I’d like to give his skills a test, and I know it’d be a big fight.”
Easter wants to test himself against Mikey Garcia as well, but the unbeaten WBC lightweight champion is scheduled to battle Adrien Broner, Easter’s friend and promoter, on July 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) has said, however, that’ll he’ll move back down to lightweight after boxing Broner (33-2, 24 KOs, 1 NC) in a 12-round, 140-pound fight.
“I don’t care how they come – just get me those fights,” Easter said. “I believe I’m the best at 135, so I don’t care which form or fashion they come, just make those fights happen.”
The IBF-mandated match between Easter (19-0, 14 KOs) and Shafikov (38-2-1, 20 KOs) will headline a Bounce TV telecast scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Friday night from Huntington Center in Toledo, Easter’s hometown. The broadcast also will include a 10-round junior middleweight match that’ll pit Philadelphia’s Julian Williams (22-1-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC) against Joshua Conley (14-1-1, 9 KOs), of San Bernardino, California.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.