By Keith Idec
Robert Easter Jr. wasn’t able to land the fight he really wanted, a lightweight title unification fight against WBC champion Mikey Garcia.
The unbeaten IBF lightweight champ plans to make the most of the opportunity for which he settled, though. Easter expects to knock out Javier Fortuna on January 20 and use that impressive performance to help him land more meaningful fights later in 2018.
“This fight can definitely set a good tone for me in 2018,” Easter said. “I’m going to be making a statement with this fight. My last three fights I haven’t gotten a knockout. I’m going to be giving my fans and fight fans a good show.
“I’m going to use my reach and length, and destroy this guy from the outside. All my career I’ve been fighting shorter guys. Every short guy doesn’t fight the same. But you get in the ring and you feel him out and make adjustments.”
The 26-year-old Easter (20-0, 14 KOs) will make the third defense of the IBF 135-pound championship against Fortuna. Showtime will televise their scheduled 12-round fight as part of the Errol Spence Jr.-Lamont Peterson undercard from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The Dominican Republic’s Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs, 1 NC) is 4-0 as a lightweight since Jason Sosa (20-3-4, 15 KOs) stopped him in the 11th round to take the WBA super featherweight title from Fortuna in June 2016 in Beijing, China. Fortuna is a southpaw, but stands five inches shorter than the 5-feet-11 Easter.
“There’s nothing in particular that I have to prepare for with Fortuna,” Easter said. “I take every fight the same. Every fighter fights different, so you get in there, feel him out and make adjustments as you go along. I’m not worried about him being a southpaw. I’ve faced plenty of lefties in my career and in the amateurs. That’s no problem at all.
“I think what makes me the more dangerous boxer in this fight is having the height that I do and the punching power and the speed and the mindset as well. My mindset is that I’m not going in there to play around with him. I’m ready to destroy.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.