Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. remained unbeaten by pulling out a split-decision victory over Javier Fortuna.
Though six inches taller than Fortuna, the 5-foot-11 Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) spent the majority of the match mixing it up inside, where he was caught frequently by Fortuna's short punches. Fortuna was deducted a point in the second round for holding behind Easter's head, which kept him from tying one of the cards he lost and making the fight a split draw.
Easter would have kept his title even with a loss, because Fortuna was about 1 ½ pounds over the lightweight limit of 135 pounds Friday and ineligible to win the belt. But the heavily booed victory probably didn't help his goal of a unification match in his division.
Now Easter wants either of the two big names at the weight - WBC champion Mikey Garcia or WBA champion Jorge Linares.
Linares defends his title next Saturday night in Los Angeles against Mercito Gesta, while Garcia is heading up to junior welterweight in March when he challenges IBF champion Sergey Lipinets - but Garcia says he's going to return to the lightweight division for big fights.
"I want to fight the champions and unify this belt," Easter said. "Fights like these aren't in my game plan. I'm ready for Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares to sign the contract."
But Fortuna (33-2-1) called for another chance before Easter looks elsewhere.
"If he's a man, let's fight again at 135 pounds," the Dominican said. "I will definitely make the weight. I didn't give myself enough time to train."
Also on the undercard, unbeaten light heavyweight Marcus Browne (21-0, 16 KOs) stopped Francy Ntetu (17-2) in the first round, and heavyweight Adam Kownacki (17-0, 14 KOs), a Poland native fighting out of Brooklyn, thrilled his crowd of fans who filled a small section of Barclays Center with a sixth-round knockout of Iago Kiladze.